Warner Brothers is seeking a director and star for its forthcoming film version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera. Lloyd Webber's spokesman has confirmed that Antonio Banderas (Che in the film of Evita) is the front-runner to play the Phantom, and Banderas has told film magazines that he's the man. But Warner Brothers says no contract has yet been signed.
Playbill On-Line asked readers: Who do you think would be best to play the Phantom? Please send your proposed casting choice to Managing Editor Robert Viagas. You must include at least two sentences on why you think your candidate is best. E-mails with just a name will not be posted.
Owing to the huge response, we have created this sixteenth file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.
I have been reading some of the E-mails for Michael Crawford for the movie POTO.
I saw Phantom a couple of years ago in Dallas and came away wondering what all the hoopla was about it. Then recently on PBS I saw Michael in concert and I was in tears at the beauty of his voice and the passion he brought to the role and I could see why so many people are Phantom fans. I only wish I could have seen him do the role on stage. I sincerely hope that I may see him in the movie.
I noticed a couple of people say he was too old. In the first place the role calls for a very mature man.....then they say he is unknown, I do think that is a joke. I am not a young person and have seen many musicals on stage and then on the screen. I shudder to think what "My Fair Lady" would have been without Harrison and tho I adored Audrey how much better it would have been with Julie Andrews. I'm always so conscious of knowing they are not doing their own singing. I have always been disappointed in the movie of "West Side Story" for that very reason. It goes on and on about the right people for roles.
As for Banderas and Madonna; I did not get to see "Evita" on stage but after seeing the movie have no desire to see it as those two completely ruined it for me. After hearing Banderas and then Michael sing "the money keeps rolling in" that should tell anyone who should play the Phantom.
From David Hellwig:
Without a doubt, the best person for the Phantom movie is Rick Hillsabeck, who starred in the "Phantom 2" tour for several years. Although not a household name like Crawford, he portrayed the Phantom with such intense emotion and passion that one quickly forgot that it was an actor portraying a role. I have seen the others, and while they were good, there is no comparison. As for Crawford, he is a figurehead normally associated with the Phantom name. Given the immense popularity of the stage version around the world, the producers do not need a "big name star" to ensure success on the screen.
I prefer Michael Crawford to be in phantom of the opera rather than the person I heard audition in this audio file (mp3) from the ALW birthday concert. He is the only true phantom and deserves the chance to make it permanent on film.
From Patricia Ruhe:
I received an E-mail today informing me about the poll: Who Should Star in the Phantom Movie?
My choice for the role of course is Michael Crawford! He has a great voice and has a quality of poise and effectiveness that enables him to achieve a close relationship with his audience. As the phantom, he is something (as a spirit) to be felt and believed.
KCET television recently aired Michael Crawford's program for his concert tour. This really enforced in my mind what a great entertainer he is and how he really wraps his audience. Of course he has a great voice that is full of passion and beauty.
I hope that they don't select Antonio Banderas! He simply doesn't have the maturity and quality of voice for this role. He is great as Zorro - but please not the Phantom!
As a playbill member I wanted to participate in your poll for the Phantom.... I vote for Michael Crawford. I admit that when I first heard the recording I wasn't impressed but after seeing him LIVE... there is no one else. His expressions,inflection,tone etc... are one of a kind. I have seen others perform the role and by far, Mr. Crawford literally blows them away. There could be no other Phantom for the movie!!!
Michael Crawford is the only one worthy of the role. I love Andrew Lloyd Webber's music, but I'm very angry with him for not thinking of Michael. He's one of the greats. Like Yul Brynner, Robert Preston, and Topol. Michael's on tour right now, he's 56, and he can still sing the Phantom of the Opera. Why Andrew cares only of a Hollywood name is beyond me. Talent is more important. This is a beautiful story, my personal favorite, and a Hollywood name doesn't mean anything. Michael has thousands of fans, it's not like no one will go see the movie if he did star in it. The movie itself will draw plenty of curious people who have never heard or seen it before. And Andrew, just to let you know, if Michael isn't in the movie I won't go see it, just as a sign of protest. So will many other fans.
There is no question that the person most suited for the role of Erik is Michael Crawford. He proved himself each time he performed on stage and left each member of the audience feeling his pain. However, most movie goers don't necessarily know Michael Crawford and Warner Brothers obviously wants to do its best to ensure the movie's commercial success. My suggestion is this: offer Michael Crawford the role; because he wears a mask, it is immaterial how old he is. Make the other two leading roles the ones with a popular star. Surely there are plenty of actors who can sing well enough to play Raoul, and though an actress with an operatic voice may be hard to find, it is not inconceivable to cast a Gwyneth Paltrow and dub her singing.
From Will Steinsiek:
I first saw Phantom of the Opera in Los Angeles with Davis Gaines playing the role of the Phantom. HOWEVER, having recently heard Michael Crawford in concert singing songs from Phantom, I was overwhelmed with his interpretation of the Phantom character and his dynamic voice. No one else should do this role in the film. It is his. Everyone should have the chance to hear him and watch him BECOME the Phantom with or without the mask.
From James Yacobacci:
Michael Crawford should play the lead, because he is the one responsible for Phantamania in the late 1980's. and it his voice on the recording that motivates people to see the musical.
Capturing the magic of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Phantom of the Opera will pose a formidable task to filmmakers. Doing so without the voice, passion, and splendor of Michael Crawford will be an impossibility. There is no choice. Michael Crawford IS the Phantom.
From Alina Alcantara:
I am 25 years old and have loved musical theater since a very early age. I had the privilege of seeing Phantom about 4 years ago in Miami. Prior to that, I had seen the "music of ALW" tour and heard Michael Crawford perform.
I choose Michael as the perfect man to play Phantom in the upcoming movie version. He brings an emotion and passion to the music that I have never heard before. In his heart, he IS the Phantom. He's in excellent health to undergo the rigors of a demanding film schedule.
Choose Michael Crawford, I say!
Like many others, I believe that the best choice for the movie version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" is Michael Crawford. Not only did he create the role, he is the only Phantom with experience in motion pictures. As much as Davis Gaines is a better Phantom on stage, Michael Crawford is definitely the one for the film.
From access systems:
Mr. Crawford is the only one to play the Phantom.
I have seen Mr. Banderas three times in movies, he does nothing for me. Maybe he appeals to the younger girls. Just being "sexy" would not get me in a movie house to see him. I would need more. Maybe a voice would help.
From JoAnn Gross:
Michael Crawford is the One and Only Phantom of the Opera. ---- Although the main character of Erik in "The Phantom of the Opera," is an evil person, MC's portrayal of him shows us a side (for a moment) that might have been if Erik's life had followed a different path. Also from the novel and from some of the previous films that I have seen about the POTO, he always appeared to me as being an older man. The main thing to remember in recreating the Broadway version is to capture the emotions that most of us felt when we saw the show - I felt at various times, love, passion, rejection, sadness - The one and only person to play these emotions in a Positive way in the movie version of the Broadway show, "The Phantom of the Opera," is Michael Crawford.......Thanks for listening.....
From Leann Olsen:
I seem to be in the minority in thinking that Antonio Banderas should be playing the phantom! I was so impressed by his portrayal of Che in "Evita". I found the prospect of him playing such a different role from the musical theater EXCITING. I believe that he has the acting ability and he has proven that he has the voice. However, being a fan of the show, I believe I will enjoy the movie whatever the outcome. I remember hearing that it was being filmed in 1992!
From Hannah Taylor:
Michael Crawford should definitely star in the Phantom movie. No one else could breathe life into the role of Erik with such passion. As far as I'm concerned, Michael is the Phantom; to cast anyone else for the sake of appearances would be a tragic--and costly--mistake.
From Anita Miller:
The Music of the Night is probably Andrew Lloyd Webber's signature song. I feel Michael Crawford has made Phantom world famous for Sir Webber. Noone can produce the tonal range of Michael Crawford. The Phantom seems to be made for Michael. Placido Domingo would be my second choice.
From Mary Lovell:
I cast my vote for the only one who should play the Phantom, Michael Crawford. I am also a fan of Anthony Warlow & Davis Gaines. But I've never heard this wonderful music sung better than by Michael Crawford. It's so typical of Hollywood to bring in big names, regardless of talent. Antonio Banderas is easy on the eyes, for sure, but his voice is not adequate. Do they think they can throw a cape on him and turn him into the Phantom? Not likely. Who then would they pick for Christine, Meryl Streep! They ruin all these wonderful stories and I guess that is why Broadway fans are Broadway fans, there's nothing like it anywhere.
It's all Michael Crawford! He invented the part, and plays it unbelievably! There are many talented actors and singers out there, but the casting directors shouldn't be looking for which actor is the most sexy, or currently popular -- that's not the show! Michael Crawford IS the Phantom, and he should portray him on the big screen. No question.
From CJ Horner:
I had the good fortune to attend MICHAEL CRAWFORD's concert in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago. The man is absolutely amazing! His "Music Of The Night" held me spellbound! His voice is beautiful, mesmerizing, magnificent... *THE BEST* concert I have ever seen! (and I have seen a lot of concerts!!!) The ONLY choice for Phantom is *The Phantom* MICHAEL CRAWFORD!!!!
From Imogene Knauf:
I vote for Michael Crawford to play the Phantom of the Opera in the movie. Without Michael's work on the Phantom it would not be the success it is today. Michael Crawford will be remembered as the Phantom in the same way Yul Brynner is remembered as the King in the King and I and Rex Harrison is remembered as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady.
Only once in a lifetime does someone come along that can play a certain type of character as if they really were him. This happened when Michael was the Phantom. If anyone can bring people to the screen he could. He played the role in LA NY and London.
Think about the Phantom. He is suppose to be the angel of music, and lets face it no ones voice is as soft or more like an angels then Crawfords. Travolta does not have the right build and sorry but the Phantom was not Mexican so Banderas would never do.
Think even more about the Phantom..... He is suppose to have a hypnotic voice.... Michael has this as proven by his role in EFX... in Vegas. This show made excellent use of that hypnotic tone and he gathered large crowds every night. He has also done radio, which means that his voice must be special....radio takes a certain quality of voice that you can not get anywhere else.... Michael has this quality.
Just think.. "Phantom of the Opera" the movie starring the original Phantom of the Opera..... Think of the number of people he alone would draw to movie screens just in Europe and the US. For he is extremely popular in the US as well, as can be told by his number of sell out performances......the number of Movie Cd's that he has sold.
Please put Michael as THE PHANTOM......I don't want a Phantom when I see the movie I want THE PHANTOM
From Lydia Walsh:
Casting anyone other than Michael Crawford in the Phantom movie will be like a publicity flash in the pan (i.e. Madonna in Evita). To create a classic that will be viewed and praised for years (and ultimately bring in more revenue) requires the timeless and brilliant talent of Michael Crawford.
From Joyce Rebaric:
My vote for the person to play the Phantom in the Phantom movie is Michael Crawford. He 'is' the Phantom. Anyone else cannot give to the role what he does.
From Regina McCullough:
I have been fortunate to see 5 other theatrical Phantoms in addition to the original. In my opinion, Andrew LLoyd Webber wrote 2 versions of his play. One is the magnificent version that Michael Crawford performs and the other the one anyone after him portrays. My vote is to see him again in the movie. Michael Crawford is the ONE and ONLY choice.
From Nikinana :
My vote goes to Michael Crawford, like lots of people he is the Phantom to me. Do you think Andrew Lloyd Webber would have chosen him to do the stage play if he wasn't the BEST choice?
If it were up to me I would pick Brad Little to play the Phantom. He currently is the Phantom on the third national tour and has been playing the role for nearly two years now. He played the part of Raoul for two years on Broadway prior to joining the national tour. His voice is the greatest I've heard in the many years I've been involved in theatre and his acting is just superb. Michael Crawford may deserve to get the role because of his reign, but let's face it, he can't sing very well. If they want the big name to draw an audience, let Banderas play Raoul. The part is much less vocally challenged and it takes a great actor to take on the role and actually make something out of it. By the way, who would be Christine? (hopefully not Sarah Brightman)
Michael Crawford I think is the only choice for the Phantom. I mean he was the first and the best! His voice gives me chills and I think he is amazing. He has proven that he is a successful Phantom and I think he would be a great asset to the movie, why not have as much of the original cast as possible, they were the ones who made the show great!
I sincerely believe the only actor who should be cast in the role of the "Phantom of the Opera", is the one who originated it in the stage show; namely, Michael Crawford. He brings to his performances such emotion and power that he is unmatched in this regard. I also believe that the role of "Christine" should also be cast with someone who performed in the stage production. I do hope "Hollywood" keeps the integrity of this incredibly emotional story; and, I echo the sentiments of one of the respondents by saying, please don't cast Leo DiCaprio or any other "flavor of the month". I saw "Man in the Iron Mask" and was deeply disappointed. I saw "Evita" and thought that while Madonna wasn't bad, she couldn't carry the weight of the part. Michael Crawford is a man who is dedicated to his craft, who is multi-talented, hardworking, and is very respected in all circles of the entertainment business. I think "Hollywood" would be very pleased by the interest and popularity of the movie with Michael Crawford playing the Phantom.
From Lynnda Weschke:
I wouldn't think one should have to ask the question of who should play in the "Phantom of the Opera" movie...the answer is so obvious. If Sir Andrew had any sense when Michael Crawford was playing the "Phantom" on stage...he would have it taped and hidden away in a vault somewhere. All that is needed is to show the "show" "with Michael of course" as a movie. Think of all the many people who wanted to go back and see it again and again with Michael playing the Phantom but couldn't afford it. If it were released as the stage show, at movie theatre prices, it would be a hell of a hit!!! The only best alternative would be to have MICHAEL CRAWFORD ONLY do the film. It would take John Travolta and Anthony Banderas 10 years to learn how to move and have the presence of Mr. Crawford. They would also have to dub either of their voices with Michael Crawfords'.