Laird Mackintosh will step into the titular role for Phantom of the Opera's final Broadway performance the evening of April 16. Principal Phantom Ben Crawford, who has not appeared onstage at several recent performances, has been sidelined due to a bacterial infection and being on vocal rest per doctor's orders.
A longtime Phantom veteran and fan-favorite, Mackintosh's history with the musical began with playing Raoul and understudying the Phantom in the Canadian production from 1993 to 1998. He went on to serve as the principal André in the Broadway production while also understudying the Phantom beginning in 2013, before departing the production in 2019 to play Henry Higgins in the national tour of My Fair Lady. Mackintosh also had a principal run as the Phantom December 2017 through January 2018. He has played the role over 200 times.
According to a production representative: “As a full recovery is expected in the coming days, Ben and The Phantom Company had hoped he’d be able to return for the closing performance. To our regret, he’s required to take a little more time."
Mackintosh rejoined the company temporarily in October 2022 to once again cover for the Phantom, as well as in February and March 2023. He was called in to perform in the charity performance April 14 and also stepped up for the final public performance April 15.
After a history-making 35 years, the famed chandelier descends for the last time as the Tony-winning musical plays its 13,981th performance at the Majestic Theatre. The international hit musical, which resumed performances October 22, 2021, following the pandemic, previously celebrated its 35th anniversary January 26.
In September 2022 it was announced that Phantom would play its final performance at the Majestic February 18. It was subsequently revealed that the musical would play an additional two months. This postponed closing date followed an uptick in ticket sales since the news was announced; in fact, the London import has topped the box-office grosses for several weeks. Its penultimate week took in a staggering in $3,648,872.13. (It should be noted that the extension was the longest possible for the Broadway production, as the Majestic will subsequently close for renovations.
The initial closing date was due to the fact that the long-running musical had been unable to meet its weekly running costs since it returned following the pandemic. However, Phantom was the top box-office draw for years. In terms of grosses and media coverage, it was the Hamilton of its day. To put its staying power in perspective, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Into the Woods opened during the same season as Phantom. That fairytale-themed musical played its second Broadway revival earlier this season and shut its doors before Phantom ended its first run.
The final Broadway company features Laird Mackintosh as the Phantom (filling in for principal Ben Crawford), Emilie Kouatchou as Christine, John Riddle as Raoul, Nehal Joshi as Monsieur André, Craig Bennett as Monsieur Firmin, Raquel Suarez Groen as Carlotta Giudicelli, Maree Johnson as Madame Giry, Carlton Moe as Ubaldo Piangi, and Sara Esty as Meg Giry. Julia Udine is the Christine alternate.
In an earlier statement producer Cameron Mackintosh said, “As a British producer who has been lucky enough to have been producing in New York for over 40 consecutive years, it has been an unparalleled honor to have presented the longest-running musical in Broadway’s history, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera. That this legendary show has thrilled New York for nearly 35 phenomenal years is quite astounding to me. As a producer, you dream that a show will run forever. Indeed, my production of Andrew’s Cats proudly declared for decades ‘Now and Forever.’ Yet Phantom has surpassed that show’s extraordinary Broadway run. But all shows do finally close, and after considerable discussion between The Shuberts, The Really Useful Group, Andrew and myself, we concluded that the right time for Phantom was after the show’s 35th birthday."
Mackintosh added, "This production has proved to be the greatest triumph for Broadway’s legendary director and producer, Hal Prince, as well as Britain’s celebrated choreographer Dame Gillian Lynne and the inspired Norwegian designer, Maria Björnson, who are all sadly no longer with us. It is impossible to thank enough the thousands of talented American artists and musicians who have performed so brilliantly in this production. The staff at the Shubert’s Majestic Theatre have been extraordinary as have all our creative teams, who have lovingly nurtured the show so magnificently over the years. Gaston Leroux’s opera ghost may be disappearing for now, but there is no doubt that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece will continue to enchant audiences in London and around the world—and one day will return to Broadway. Our gratitude to American audiences falling in love with The Phantom is infinite.”
The final ensemble features Giselle O. Alvarez, Polly Baird, Janinah Burnett, Xiaoxiao Cao, Kanisha Marie Feliciano, David Michael Garry, Chris Georgetti, Kelly Jeanne Grant, Satomi Hofmann, Ayaka Kamei, Ted Keegan, Kfir, Kelly Loughran, Scott Mikita, Greg Mills, Trista Moldovan, Justin Peck, Richard Poole, Lindsay Roberts, Janet Saia, Paul Adam Schaefer, Carly Blake Sebouhian, Jeremy Stolle, Carrington Vilmont, Jim Weitzer, Elizabeth Welch, and Erica Wong.
The Phantom of the Opera has music by Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe), and a book by Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber. The production also features 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 with Caddick as music director. Cameron Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Group serve as producers. The late Harold Prince directed.
The complete Phantom orchestra—Broadway’s largest—also returned following the pandemic under the continued musical supervision of David Caddick with the musical’s original orchestrations.
The Broadway staging of the London-originated show won seven 1988 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Previews on Broadway began January 9, 1988, with an official opening January 26. The original Broadway cast featured Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, Judy Kaye, and the late Steve Barton.
The Phantom of the Opera became the longest-running show in Broadway history January 9, 2006, when it surpassed the nearly 18-year run of Cats. The production’s nearly 14,000 performances have been seen by 19.5 million people and grossed $1.3 billion. Phantom has been the largest single generator of income and jobs in Broadway and U.S. theatrical history. In the New York production alone, an estimated 6,500 people (including 450 actors) were employed during its more than three-decade run.
After tonight's performance, those wishing Phantom were somehow here again, fear not. Producer Mackintosh recently told Variety that "of course it will return. All the great musicals do." But for the time being, it's over now "The Music of the Night."