PLAYBILL ON A HISTORIC NIGHT: The Phantom of the Opera; The Power of the Music of the Knight

By Harry Haun
28 Jan 2013

Howard McGillin and Rebecca Luker
Photo by Monica Simoes

Howard McGillin and Rebecca Luker, who just finished a successful two-week gig at Café Carlyle and who, in different years, did time in Phantom (McGillin, according to Guinness, longer than any other Phantom: 2,544 performances), dropped by. "We thought we would put in an appearance," said he, making a game stab at modesty.

All 12 of the Broadway Phantoms were represented in the anniversary-issue Playbill (available at PlaybillStore.com) with their half-masked mug-shots: Crawford (the Tony-winning original), Timothy Nolen, Cris Groenendaal, the late Steve Barton (who was the first Raoul), Kevin Gray (who attended with the wife he found among Phantom's ballerinas, Dodie Pettit), Mark Jacoby, Marcus Lovett, Davis Gaines (another Raoul starter), Thomas James O'Leary, Panaro, McGillin and John Cudia — plus the four limited engagement replacements: Jeff Keller, Ted Keegan, Brad Little and Gary Mauer.

Gaines made the Raoul-to-Phantom switch when he replaced Crawford in Los Angeles, and he pretty much settled out there, save for the two and a half years he spent playing Phantom on Broadway. In L.A., he has played everything from Hannibal Lecter in Silence! The Musical to Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha, winning a Best Actor in a Musical Ovation Award for the latter. Now, he's a week into his L.A. directing debut (the onetime collegiate Ali Hakim is staging an Oklahoma!).



Karimloo, the Iranian-born Canadian in the finale Phantom mix, played the Phantom for London's 25th anniversary and again in Phantom's low-flying sequel, Love Never Dies — and that's pretty much period and paragraph for him as far as Phantom goes: "No, I'm definitely not doing it in New York. My life with the Phantom is over."

 Continued...