Phantom, for the Record: How Many Batteries Does It Take to Power the Longest Runner?

News   Phantom, for the Record: How Many Batteries Does It Take to Power the Longest Runner?
How many people does it take to screw a light bulb into the chandelier at The Phantom of the Opera?

The original glittering, beaded chandelier, for the London production in 1986, was created by five people over a period of four weeks, according to production notes that were recently released to help illuminate the experience of the mega-hit, which is celebrating a Broadway milestone Jan. 9.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical surpasses the run of Cats in New York on Jan. 9 to become the longest running show in Broadway history. For those keeping score, Monday's 6:30 PM show will be performance No. 7,486.

Here's a compendium of facts and figures about the Broadway production, provided by the producers. All figures are estimated through to the Jan. 9, 2006, record-breaking performance.

  • The Broadway production opened on Jan. 26, 1988, with a then-record advance of $18 million. The musical had its world premiere at London's Her Majesty's Theatre on Oct. 9, 1986. It won every major British theatre award, including the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards, and has since won over 50 major theatre awards including an additional Olivier Award in 2002 (Audience Award for Most Popular Show).


  • The replica of the Paris Opera House chandelier features 6,000 beads. It weighs one ton and has traveled 2,512,368 feet (476 miles).
  • The Phantom of the Opera has been seen in New York by almost 11 million people.
  • The Broadway production has grossed nearly $600 million, more than any other show in Broadway history.
  • The Broadway production won seven 1988 Tony Awards including Best Musical.
  • The New York production cost a record $8 million in 1988. The same production today would cost $12 million.
  • Phantom has been the largest single generator of income and jobs in Broadway and U.S. theatrical history.
  • 244 actors have appeared in the New York production.
  • 11 actors have been cast as The Phantom on Broadway: Michael Crawford, Timothy Nolen, Chris Groenendaal, Steve Barton, Kevin Gray, Mark Jacoby, Marcus Lovett, Davis Gaines, Thomas James O'Leary, Hugh Panaro and Howard McGillin. Hugh Panaro returned to the role in 2003, and Howard McGillin returned in 2005.
  • At almost four years and nearly 1,400 performances, McGillin has played the title role in Broadway production more than any other actor. Current leading lady Sandra Joseph has played the role of Christine in New York over 1,200 times, more than any other actress in the Broadway production.
  • Three actors from the original Broadway cast (George Lee Andrews, Richard Warren Pugh and Mary Leigh Stahl) are still with the Broadway show.
  • Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has composed the two longest-running shows in Broadway history: Phantom and Cats. Producer Cameron Mackintosh has produced the three longest-running shows in Broadway history: Phantom, Cats and Les Misérables.
  • "Highlights of the Original Cast Recording of The Phantom of the Opera" (the London cast) is the fourth longest-running pop album of all time on Billboard Magazine's Pop Album Chart, where it spent a total of 331 weeks (over six years). The Complete Original Cast Recording (a two-disc set) is 16th of all time, having spent 255 weeks (five years) on the chart. It has gone gold and platinum in both the U.S. and the U.K., selling over two million copies.
  • In 18 years, there have been 1,424,250 quarter tea spoons of shot powder (used in flash pots), 18,981 sheets of flash paper, 68,350 electric matches (to ignite The Phantom's skull staff), 3,038,400 lbs. of dry ice (1,519 tons) used to create the underground lake grotto, 53,166 flash bulbs used in chandelier, 6,899 ounces of liquid fog, and 1,540,210 light cues have been called. There are 10 fog and smoke machines employed at each performance.
  • There are 7,700 yards of fabric in the moving drapes, 281 "candles" in the show, 150 trap doors, 15 life-size mannequins, 10 candelabras.
  • There are 24 surround speakers in the house, and 455,760 AAA batteries have been used for sound for body microphone packs.
  • There have been two custom-made monkey music boxes. Made of fiberglass and fur, the music box runs on a remote-controlled motor.
  • There are 35 masks used in the "Masquerade" scene, 230 costumes in the show, 111 wigs in show (made of human, yak and synthetic hair).
  • To create the Phantom's hideous deformity, there is a prep time of 90 minutes for each performance. Each actor playing The Phantom has a mask custom-made from a mold of his face.
  • In 18 years on Broadway, 43,105 miles of Playbill pages have been used for Phantom (they would wrap around the world twice).
  • Box office for the four U.S. productions (New York and three national tours) is nearly $1.9 billion. The three U.S. touring companies alone have grossed nearly $1.3 billion.
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