“The Phantom of the Opera,” the longest-running show in Broadway history and, for many, a symbol of musical theatre, will drop its famous chandelier for the last time in February, becoming the latest show to fall victim to the drop-off in audiences since the pandemic hit. “The Phantom of the Opera” is the longest-running show in Broadway history and, for many, a symbol of musical theatre.
The closing is both long-expected because no show runs forever and this one’s grosses have been softening, and startling because “Phantom” had come to seem like a permanent part of Broadway’s landscape, a period piece and a tourist magnet that stood apart from the vicissitudes of the commercial theatre marketplace. No show runs forever, and this one’s grosses have been softening.
But in the year that has passed since Broadway was allowed to reopen after the devastating pandemic lockdown, the theatergoing crowd has not entirely recovered, and “Phantom,” which had a successful comeback last autumn, has not been selling well enough to recoup the enormous weekly operating expenses it incurs.
According to a spokeswoman for the show, the celebration of the show’s 35th anniversary will take place in January, and the production’s last performance on Broadway will take place on February 18. Friday was the day when announcements were made to the cast, crew, and orchestra on the decision.
The performance will continue to run in other cities. The London version, which is even older than the one in New York, stopped in 2020, when the epidemic was at its peak, but it returned the following year with a smaller orchestra and other cost-reducing reconfigurations. The premiere of a brand-new production took place in Australia only a few days ago, and the first play to be performed in Mandarin will debut in China in 2019. Additionally, Antonio Banderas is now involved in the creation of a brand-new movie in Spanish.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, Hal Prince, and Cameron Mackintosh are three of the most iconic characters in the history of musical theatre, and their collaboration on the production of “Phantom” in the 1980s resulted in the creation of a Broadway classic that is now considered a cultural landmark. In 2018, when the show turned 30, they celebrated with a light show projected onto the Empire State Building in sync with parts of the score. The previous year, when the show resumed performances after the lockdown, Webber D.J. ‘d a block party outside the theatre. All of them had been long-time devotees of the show.
The production is famed for its chandelier, which falls onto the stage every night, and is marked by over-the-top spectacle and melodrama. The piece is about a mask-wearing opera enthusiast who haunts the Paris Opera House and gets fascinated with a young soprano.
Frank Rich, a critic for The New York Times, wrote a review of “The Phantom of the Opera” for the opening night of the Broadway production on January 26, 1988. Rich criticised many aspects of the show, but he began his review by admitting, “It may be possible to have a terrible time at ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ but you’ll have to work at it.”
When Times reviewer Charles Isherwood watched the programme in 2014, he found that many of the show’s detractors had been won over. According to what Isherwood wrote, “soon after the orchestra began up those booming, foreboding organ notes, I found my expectations to be upended, and I felt my cynical armour melting away.” “With the passage of more than a decade — and a few hundred new musicals — since my previous visit, I discovered that I had a fresh appreciation for the gothic theatricality of this well-loved performance,”
Around the course of its history, “Phantom” has developed into a mainstay that has consistently attracted massive crowds all over the globe. Since the first production opened in London in 1986, the show has been viewed by over 145 million people in 183 cities around the world. It has been performed in 17 languages, and next year, when the Mandarin production opens, that number is expected to rise to 18, making it the highest number of languages in which it has been performed.
According to numbers provided by the Broadway League, the play has been seen by 19.8 million people on Broadway since it first opened, and it has made $1.3 billion in total revenue during that time. During the week that ended on September 11, it brought in a total of $867,997, which is a respectable amount but not sufficient to support a run of a musical of this magnitude.