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"Phantom of the Opera" The record closes on Broadway after 35 years

An emotional and glowing farewell to “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway

An emotional and glowing farewell to “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway


Cast and crew at the closing performance of “Phantom of the Opera” at the Majestic Theater on April 16, 2023 in New York City.

Variety via Nina Westervelt/Getty Images

The final curtain came down on New York’s production of “The Phantom of the Opera” on Sunday, ending Broadway’s longest-running show with thunderous standing ovations, champagne toasts and bursts of gold and silver confetti from its famous chandelier.

It was show No. 13,981 at the Majestic Theater and ended with a reprise of “The Music of the Night” featuring the current cast, actors from earlier in the show — including original star Sarah Brightman — and crew members in street clothes.

Andrew Lloyd Webber took the stage in a black suit and black tie and dedicated the final show to his son Nick, who Died last month After a long battle with gastric cancer and pneumonia. He was 43.

“When he was a little boy, he heard some of this music,” Lloyd Webber said. Brightman, holding his hand, agreed: “When Andrew was writing this, he was right there. So his son is with us. Nick, we love you so much.”

Producer Cameron Mackintosh gave the crowd some hope they’ll see the Phantom again, and maybe sooner than they think.

“One question I get asked over and over again is – will Phantom come back? As a producer for over 55 years, I’ve seen all the great musicals come back and ‘Phantom’ is one of the best,” he said. “So it’s just a matter of time.”

The musical — a fixture on Broadway since opening on Jan. 26, 1988 — has weathered recessions, wars, terrorism and cultural shifts. but prolonged epidemic The final straw might be: it’s an expensive musical to sustain, with elaborate sets and costumes as well as a large cast and orchestra. Sunday’s curtain call showed how out of step “Phantom” is with the rest of Broadway but how glorious a big, splashy musical can be.

Sarah Brightman, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh at the closing performance of “Phantom of the Opera” at the Majestic Theater on April 16, 2023 in New York City.

Variety via Nina Westervelt/Getty Images

“If there’s ever a blowout, we’re going out with a bang. It’s going to be a great night,” John Riddle said just before dashing inside to play Raul for the final time.

Based on a novel by Gaston Leroux, “Phantom” tells the story of a disfigured composer who haunts the Paris opera house and falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine. Weber’s standout songs include “Masquerade,” “Angel of Music” and “All I Ask of You.”

In addition to Riddle, the New York production also bids farewell to Emily Kouachou as Christine and Laird Mackintosh as Ben Crawford as the Phantom. Crawford was unable to sing due to a bacterial infection but cheered at the curtain call, stepping to the side of the stage. The Phantom waved him over to stand next to him, Riddle and Kouchou.

There was a video presentation of many of the actors who played key roles in the show over the years, and the orchestra seats were crowded with Christines, Rawls and Phantoms. The late director Hal Prince, choreographer Gillian Lynne and set and costume designer Maria Bjornsson are also honored.

Lin-Manuel Miranda attended, as did Glenn Close, who starred in two separate Broadway productions of Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard.” Free champagne was given out at intermission and flutes were handed out on stage at the curtain call.

Riddle first saw “The Phantom of the Opera” in Toronto as a 4-year-old child. “It was the first musical I ever saw. I didn’t know what a musical was,” he said. “Now, 30-some odd years later, I’m closing the show on Broadway. So it’s incredible.”

Confetti falls over the audience during the closing performance of “Phantom of the Opera” at the Majestic Theater on April 16, 2023 in New York City.

Variety via Nina Westervelt/Getty Images

Kouachou, the first black woman in New York, never thought the show would stop. “I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to do my run, “Phantom” is going to continue and they’re going to be more of a color Christine,'” he said. “But this is it.”

The first production opened in London in 1986 and since then the show has been seen by more than 145 million people in 183 cities and over 70,000 performances in 17 languages. On Broadway alone, it grossed over $1.3 billion.

When “Phantom” opened in New York, “Die Hard” was in movie theaters, Adele was born, and floppy disks were on the cutting edge of technology. A postage stamp costs 25 cents, and the most popular songs of the year are “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood, “Faith” by George Michael and “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley.

Critics were positive, with the New York Post calling it “an impeccably crafted piece of musical theater”, the Daily News describing it as “spectacular entertainment”, and The New York Times saying it “seeks nothing more than to shower the audience’s imagination. And fun.”

Other Lloyd Webber musicals include “Cats,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Evita,” “Sunset Boulevard” and “School of Rock.” The end of “Phantom” means the composer has one show left on Broadway, the critically panned “Bad Cinderella.”

End of “Phantom”. Originally scheduled for February, was pushed to mid-April after renewed interest and a flood of ticket sales that pushed the weekly gross past $3 million. The finale means the longest-running show crown now goes to “Chicago,” which debuted in 1996. Performances began in 1997, right after “The Lion King”.

Broadway suffered a setback during the pandemic, with all theaters closed for more than 18 months. Some popular shows — “Hamilton,” “The Lion King” and “Wicked” — rebounded well, but other shows struggled.

Breaking even usually requires a steady stream of tourists, especially for “phantoms,” and city visitors have not returned to pre-pandemic levels. The pandemic has increased costs for all shows, including routine COVID-19 testing and staff safety officers. The Phantom has become a poster boy for Broadway comebacks—after all, he’s partially masked.

Fans can always catch Phantom elsewhere. The flagship London production celebrated its 36th anniversary in October and has productions in Japan, Greece, Australia, Sweden, Italy, South Korea and the Czech Republic. One is set to open in Bucharest and the other in Vienna in 2024

Kouachou, who walked the red carpet before the finale show in a hot pink clinging gown with a sweetheart neckline and a cut out, said the bitterness over the big farewell was over. Most Broadway shows that slink intimately into the dark uncelebrated.

“It’s sweet, isn’t it?” she said. “We can celebrate at the end of it. We can all get together and drink and laugh and talk about the show and all the highs and lows. It’s ending on a big note.”

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