Playbill Poll: Who Should Star in the Phantom Movie? -- Part 22

News   Playbill Poll: Who Should Star in the Phantom Movie? -- Part 22
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.

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 twenty-second file of posts. Playbill On-Line thanks all those who took the time to write.

From Pioppio:
It is Andrew Lloyd Webber who made 'the phantom of the opera' but the one who completed the play is Michael Crawford. For that I think sir Webber can not insist the play belongs to him only. As long as 'the phantom of the opera' is playing in some part of the earth, the role of the phantom and Michael Crawford's name will go together no matter how nicely someone else performs the role.
I wonder who they (the studio people) are looking for in spite of having perfect choice besides themselves. Trying to waste time???

From Fernando Patau:
IS Warner Bros. "INSANE" casting Antonio Banderas as Phantom?????
I loved his performance in Evita, but the Phantom, I'm sorry Mr Banderas, it's "MICHAEL CRAWFORD'S". Nobody else's! If you happen to read the book by Gaston Leroux you'll hear him singing while you read it. His voice is one of the most important aspects of the character. Not to mention 'the accent'. Pleeeaase!!!! The Zorro, OK, but THE PHANTOM NEVER!!!!!!!

From Candy Wong:
I saw Phantom once, and one time is enough to tell you that FRANC D"AMBROSIO of the San Francisco production is amazing. He is powerful, he is wonderful, he is excellent! He even has screen experience, playing the opera singing son of Al Pacino. However, he is my second choice, only based on the fact that if he had the role in the movie, he would have to leave the production of POTO here in the Bay Area for the shooting. I love him dearly, so I wouldn't want to see him leave. I would love to see him as the Phantom on screen. He is absolutely fabulous!
So my choice is MICHAEL CRAWFORD. This man is, well, THE phantom. He is the original, and he is great. I have never seen him in a performance. HOWEVER, I have heard him in numerous sound files I found online, and his voice is exquisite. His voice was entrancing, and that was from an online sound file! Imagine it ten times grander, in better quality. MC is the phantom people want to see. I don't believe ALW's claims that he is too old, especially when the Phantom in the original book was over 50. As for MC not having enough appeal, well, why would there be so many people asking for him to be Phantom once more? Anyway, he can sing, a fact you cannot say about Antonio Banderas or John Travolta. I would LOATH having to hear my Angel of Music's voice be interpreted by Banderas, who has a Latino accent. Erik is French, and although MC is not french, he does not have the overwhelming accent AB has.
Only FRANC or MICHAEL or someone with stage experience and extensive voice training can play Erik. Anyone else would be a mockery that deserves a falling chandelier.

From Cassie Penn:
Michael Crawford, of course! I can't see anyone else playing the role, and I certainly can't think of anyone more able or deserving to play the role of Erik!!!

From Lee Ann Holly:
I have to go with Michael Crawford as the Phantom.
I just don't feel that Antonio Banderas has the voice range for the role.. Baring that, how about Robert Guilliaume??? A friend saw him in LA and said he was very good. Another thought, Colm Wilkinson, who did the show in Toronto for some time. He certainly has the voice for it. Or better yet, a talent search of all the touring companies of Phantom, both here and abroad. "Find the phantom":!

From Maria Swisher:
My vote goes to Davis Gaines for his glorious voice. Banderas looks good but who will see his face? Crawford has never been a favorite of mine. I still see him as Cornelius Hackle and Hero. Gaines has the most experience with the role and why not cast a "newcomer". Everyone else was one once. If not Gaines then Anthony Warlow. He played the role in Australia and what a voice. Or I should say - what voices. He has so many colors and styles to his singing. I'd love someone to write him his own role.

From Keri Broderick:
MIchael Crawford!!!! No one brings more tenderness and power, romance and mystery to the role. I have seen Phantom of the Opera many times, and his was the only performance that made me weep. With a single utterance of a word, you can be a witness to his (Erik's) pain-filled, horrible past. His voice can be an angel's and a seducer, a powerful tenor that could have been an Opera legend. He IS the definitive phantom.

From Andy Menke:
Ok, we all know Michael Crawford is the ONLY choice for the Phantom film. His IS the Phantom, but will Hollywood listen? Did Carol Channing, who IS and always has been Dolly get to do "Hello Dolly"? No, they cast a completely wrong Streisand - she was too young, was Jewish when the play script says her name is Dolly GALLAGHER Levi - obviously an Irish lady - and did not have the charm to make Dolly real but she is a "name". So following Hollywood's reasoning, Michael won't get the Phantom, it will go to someone completely wrong like Brad Pitt with a dubbed voice and we can all boycott the film. And who will be Christine and Raoul - Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas. It wouldn't be a surprise, thinking of past film musicals, if they cut Andrew Lloyd Webbers music and put in songs by the Spice Girls. Can Michael still sing it - compare the original recording and how he sounds in concert today and his voice has only gotten better and more powerful. Do we all have to parade in front of Warner Brothers and shout "We want Michael"?

From ScottAN:
I too saw Michael Crawford in New York. Several times.He was AMAZING. I also saw his recent concert on PBS. He is getting old. And, dare I say, he's become a parody of himself. Antonio's the one.
To the lady so concerned about finding a trained soprano in Hollywood: They're there, You just have to know where to look.

From Nurseosbo:
My vote for the role of Phantom is Michael Crawford. Michael created the role and the characteristics that go with the "phantom". He is already known to the world as the "phantom" and is the one all other phantoms are compared to. He is voice brings a special magic to the role - his range and control provide an excellent sound to the most beautiful songs in the show. People around the world are waiting to see this movie and have waited for years for it to be produced. We have been waiting for "Michael Crawford" to come to life on the screen - please make it happen - no other person should play this role. I would rather not see the movie produced than to have someone star in it that no one has ever seen in the role and who doesn't possess the strengths that Michael Crawford does.

From M. Faith Morlan:
They have got to be kidding.. The only one to play the phantom is Michael Crawford. Did you see them cast different stars in King and I, My Fair Lady..think makes sense to allow the man who created and made the role his to play it in the movies. I am an avid Michael Crawford fan and cannot see the role going to anyone else. Let Antonio Banderas play the count..not the Phantom...

From Amwfla:
One thing I read was about who should be playing the Phantom, I feel it should either be DAVIS GAINES, or Michael Crawford. My first choice is Davis Gaines I saw him several times in it in New York and he brought the phantom to life for me, his emotions and quality of acting cannot be touched, except for Michael Crawford who I sw once in it but thought Davis was number one and brought tears to my eyes when he lost Christine...

From Keith Averett:
I think the choice should be plainly obvious. Michael Crawford should be the Phantom. He is the man who made the Phantom who he is and he is the only one I could see playing him. He would be perfect for the movie also, he has had more experience playing the man than anyone else, and that is deeply important, but he also has experience playing in movies which is also important. The smartest choice I would think would be to cast Michael Crawford in the role, Warner Brothers would get much more support in making the movie if they did. And even if the movie wasn't a hit with the rest of the world, they would at least know it would be with the Phantom Phans. Whereas they don't have that guarantee otherwise. So please cast Michael Crawford!!!!!

From Christine Daae:
I think the answer has to be Michael Crawford. There are many people who have played the Phantom to great acclaim, and Crawford isn't even my personal favorite, but he is the only one who has great experience of the old, consistently excellent reviews, and many years of film experience. His name is inextricably linked with the musical. He won every award going when he created the role - his characterization of the Phantom is acknowledged to be one of the greatest achievements of modern musical theatre. He has starred in films and TV series for over 30 years. He is the obvious choice.

Mr. Lloyd Webber has often been criticized for being too commercial and not artistic enough. If he doesn't think that casting antonio banderas in the role of the phantom is simply a commercial decision, I don't know what is. The best artistic choice, beyond a doubt, is Michael Crawford. Obviously, he is more than able to handle this role both musically & dramatically. With all due respect to mr. Banderas, his voice is not that of a true musician. The phantom of the opera deserves an artist who can chill you with his anger & move you to tears with his passion. Mr. Crawford is fully capable of doing these things & has proven it in his many performances of this role.

From Eagle1lak:
I have seen several different singer/actors perform the role of Phantom on the stage. Although a younger singer/actor can play the role just fine, there are two elements that these singer/actors did not bring to the role.
First, there is no contrast between Raoul and Phantom. Raoul is a young, vibrant, virile man with a lot to offer the young Christine. He has his whole life to live. Whereas the Phantom has lived his many years in the shadows of life with no one to love or to love him. His love for Christine is his last hope of the love he never had and his age has given him the compassion he needs to win her.
Second, the younger singer/actor does not bring to the stage the experience that an older singer/actor can. He doesn't have the years of playing different roles.
This is why I am suggesting Michael Crawford.
This is an singer/actor, actor/singer who can bring and has brought years of experience, compassion and emotions no one has ever done with the role. Whenever a performer can bring the average, heterosexual male to tears, as Mr. Crawford has, 1300 times, he has my support.
If the suits are worried about box office sales, let them surround Mr Crawford with names such as ....Glen Close as Mdme Giry, Antonio as Raoul, or a big name as Christine. If they want repeat need a singer/actor that will make them want to see the movie as many as 100 + times, as some have seen the stage play.
To sum it all up.....although size doesn't make a difference, in this case, age and experience DOES!

From Sandaut:
I wish you all the best in influencing Warner Brothers with the choice of actor for the role of Erik. My vote goes for Michael Crawford. He's presence on stage is powerful and inspiring and through great direction this can be carried forward to a screen. The other characters can be filled by actors that are associated with "motion picture money drawing power" which is the bottom line with Warner Brothers.

From Gizzidog:
Who else but Michael Crawford can sing from his heart and act from deep down in his soul.
Michael Crawford is and always will be the phantom of the opera. Michael made the phantom come alive with his wonderful acting and that voice wow that voice.
I vote for Michael Crawford anyone else just won't do.
Michael Crawford forever the phantom of the opera!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From M.D. Meyers:
Someone recently asked me why I thought Michael Crawford wanted to do the movie version of the Phantom musical. As my vote in favor of Michael Crawford, I would like to share what I wrote to then with you and your readers.
"In answer to your question I have, first, a question for you. Have you ever been an actor? I was, for over twenty years, and while I can lay no claim to fame or extraordinary talent, I do feel I have achieved some understanding of the art and the artists.
It hasn't been easy to be an actor since Thespis first stepped out of the crowd, but today it is especially difficult.
Almost everything today has been reduced to the monetary bottom line and the lowest common denominator of appeal. Theater and film have not been spared. Films in general today are pretty bad artistically, the industry depending more and more on computerized special effects to draw an audience. Broadway theater was dying out and for the most part has been saved by the genius of Lord Andrew Lloyd-Webber [and his choice of actors, most especially Michael Crawford.] And television...Good Grief, Thank God for Hallmark! Into the above mix come the actors. The lucky ones are the 2% of SAG or Equity who are actually "working" instead of waiting tables and parking cars. There is some satisfaction in being seen. If you study voice for twelve years and land the jingle in a TV beer commercial, it's a start. Maybe next week you get to play a hooker or a junkie on a real show. Everyone in the business expects to pay "dues" for the average ten years or so. In the next five or ten years you might get to do your own "sit-com" or do a revival in New York. "Suddenly", you've made it! But the dream of the true artist isn't the money or the fame and all the perks that follow. It's the "ROLE", the big one, the special one, OK, the one mentioned as "Best remembered for" in your obit! The "ROLE" gives you immortality, most especially if it's captured on film.
Now consider Michael Crawford, He has turned the paying of dues into an art from! I don't know of any artist who has worked so hard and waited so long to be where he is today. He is now finally starting to become famous in this county beyond the realm of theater. His original cast recording of POTO has created a brisk market for his albums which followed. His PBS special and current tour are reaching new people each day who are amazed by this man's talent and immediately become fans.
He already has the "ROLE". He created, within that beautiful musical, the Ultimate Phantom. His is an Erik who speaks to all of us, of yearning for love and acceptance, and to some of us, of the pain of being different and unacceptable. To do this he has gone deeply within himself and used all the extreme emotions of a difficult childhood full of war, loss and frail health. He knows the pain of the character because he has experienced it himself and he is fearless when it comes to expressing it.
The film of "Phantom of the Opera" is therefore the answer to Mr. Crawford's dream. As an artist, he certainly would want his greatest creation to date preserved on film. Of course he would want to star in, potentially, the most romantic movie and greatest date film ever made! As an actor he must want ( and certainly deserves) the fame and acceptance this film would bring. He has earned it, many times over.
I can only conclude by saying it's up to Warner Brothers and Really Useful Company. Do they want a - musical- , or a "MUSICAL TRIUMPH"? Do they want a film starring some well known, less talented ( possibly dubbed ) "Hollywood Slick" or do they want a MAN who will give them a MIRACLE on the screen, a CLASSIC for the ages? These people have power. They can build Michael Crawford a TV audience, if they want. They can find roles for him in films. {Mr. Crawford is so multi-talented, HE can DO just about anything!} And the "old studio build-up" still works.
If they make Michael Crawford a STAR, they will get a COMET in return and then they should just hang on for the ride!

From Keri Hamner:
I do believe Michael Crawford should have the part as phantom in the new movie. I have been dying to see his wonders performed as phantom for a long time and this will give us the chance to see it. Well, only if michael himself wants to do it.

From Kelly Pritchard:
I am writing to encourage you to made the Phantom movie as well as let Michael Crawford star in it as the Phantom and Sarah Brightman as Christine. I think it would take all the Oscars that it would be nominated for in addition beat Ben Hur and the Titanic in winning.
Please let Michael and Sarah reprise there roles in Phantom of the Opera.

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