PLAYBILL POLL: Who Is Your Favorite Phantom of The Opera? Readers Respond

On May 12 Tony nominee Norm Lewis steps into the title role of The Phantom of the Opera, marking the first time an African-American actor has played the role on Broadway. In celebration of this milestone, we wondered: What other actors have given standout performances as The Phantom of the Opera

Playbill.com polled our readers via Facebook and Twitter. Their responses follow:

Howard McGillin

Phill Greenland: Howard McGillin, hands down. I've loved him from Drood to Anything Goes to Secret Garden to Spider Woman to She Loves Me. He actually was what made me finally go to see Phantom.

Elliott Sirkin: Howard McGillin Howrd McGillin & Howard McGillin

Howard McGillin starred in the title role of The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway from August 1999 to April 2003. He made his Broadway debut in the original cast of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, which garnered him a 1986 Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. He was also Tony-nominated for his performance in the Lincoln Center Theater revival of Anything Goes.

Michael Crawford

Freya Hunt: I saw Michael Crawford in 1989 and he was astounding! There is only ONE Phantom.

Julie Simmons: I adore Michael Crawford.

Eileen Robinson: Michael Crawford, the original Phantom! 

@JeffreyKare:  @playbill Michael Crawford!

@rockstarhilary:  @playbill @PhantomOpera Michael Crawford will always be my favorite phantom.

@Bric123:  @playbill @normlewis777 @PhantomOpera Michael Crawford, the man who originated the role.

Michael Crawford originated the role of the Phantom in London and subsequently on Broadway, earning a Tony Award for his performance. He has also been seen on Broadway in  Black Comedy/White Lies and Dance of the Vampires.

Brent Barrett

Kevin Hall: Brent Barrett!

Brent Barrett starred as the Phantom in the 2006 mounting of The Phantom of Opera at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas. His other theatrical credits include the Broadway revivals of West Side Story, Chicago, Candide and Annie Get Your Gun as well as the original casts of Grand Hotel and Dance a Little Closer.

Davis Gaines

David Alverson: Davis Gaines

Davis Gaines starred as the Phantom on Broadway in 1994. He was also seen on Broadway in the 1980 revival of Camelot, and he portrayed Anthony in the 2000 semi-staged concert version of Sweeney Todd alongside George Hearn, Patti LuPone, Neil Patrick Harris and Audra McDonald.

Ramin Karimloo
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Ally O'Brien: Ramin Karimloo. His voice and emotion are beautiful.

Gigi Potter: Ramin Karimloo

Halley Ayers: Ramin Karimloo hands down!!

Gage Rancich: Ramin Karimloo!

@OliviaGes:  @playbill RAMIN KARIMLOO @raminkarimloo

@Minimiiiii:  @playbill @raminkarimloo always

@LizzyAMurray:  @playbill RAMIN AHH SO GOOD I'm sure Norm will be just as great!

@sv_bogdanova:  @playbill Ramin Karimloo!

@risajoy19:  @playbill @normlewis777 @PhantomOpera ABSOLUTELY @raminkarimloo

@leiarimes:  @playbill @normlewis777 @PhantomOpera @raminkarimloo Ramin!!! (Although they're all great!!)

Ramin Karimloo is currently making his Broadway debut as Jean Valjean in the 2014 revival of Les Miserables. The Iranian-born Canadian vocalist has been seen on the London stage as the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera and in the musical's sequel,  Love Never Dies, earning an Olivier Award nomination for his work in the latter.

Anthony Warlow

Sally Hardy: And my favourite Phantom was Anthony Warlow.

‏@timian77:  @playbill I've seen @PhantomOpera 13times around the world. Anthony Warlow in Australia was the best Phantom. Can't wait 2 c @normlewis777

@yajwang:  @playbill @normlewis777 @PhantomOpera Anthony Warlow.

A seasoned opera singer, Anthony Warlow originated the role of the Phantom in the 1990 Australian production of The Phantom of the Opera, a role he reprised in Melbourne in 2006. He recently made his Broadway debut as Daddy Warbucks in the 2012 revival of Annie.

Colm Wilkinson
Photo by Margaret Malandruccolo

Todd Planty: Colm Wilkinson

Aaron Owen Bailey: Colm. 100%

Originating the title role in the early workshops of The Phantom of the Opera, Colm Wilkinson was offered the role of the Phantom for the show's debut in the West End, but instead decided to take the role of Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, a part he would repeat on Broadway. In 1989 he played the Phantom in the original Canadian production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. He also made a special guest appearance in the 2011 25th Anniversary Celebration, The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall.

Hugh Panaro
Photo by Margaret Malandruccolo

@katemonster20:  Hugh Panaro

Hugh Panaro has starred as both the Phantom and Raoul in Broadway's The Phantom of the Opera. He has also been seen on Broadway in the original casts of Side Show, The Red Shoes and Lestat as well as in Harold Prince's revival of Show Boat.