Thirty years ago, The Phantom of the Opera debuted on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre.
At the time, no one knew the production would go on to become the longest-running show in Broadway history. It holds the record by no less than ten years.
For composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, Phantom came after Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats, and Starlight Express, and director Hal Prince was over two decades into his now-six decade directing career.
With lyrics by Charles Hart, musical staging and choreography by Gillian Lynne, scenic and costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Andrew Bridge, and sound design by Martin Levan, Phantom would go on to sweetly intoxicate audiences around the world (both from the stage and screen with its 2004 film adaptation).
The original Broadway cast starred Lloyd Webber’s then-wife Sarah Brightman as Christine Daaé, Michael Crawford as the titular Phantom, Steve Barton as Raoul, Cris Groenendaal as Monsieur André, Nicholas Wyman as Monsieur Firmin, Judy Kaye as Carlotta, David Romano as Piangi, Leila Martin as Madame Giry, and Elisa Heinsohn as Meg Giry.
On January 29 of this year, the production celebrates the unprecedented anniversary. Playbill looks back at a select few of the archival reviews from 1988 to see what critics thought of the show before the Tony-winning musical became a record-breaking smash.
Read the reviews below:
Bonus: London premiere The Guardian (Michael Billington)