The musical, based on Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel of the same name, has garnered 20 million viewers and grossed over $1.3 billion.
One of the most popular Broadway shows ever, "The Phantom of the Opera," delivered its final performance on April 16. It marked the end of an era, as the show concluded after a 35-year run. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical is well-known for being the longest-running show and ran for a whopping 13,981 performances, reported My Modern Met.
The Majestic Theatre has been home to the beloved musical since January 26, 1988. Over the course of its run, the show garnered a staggering 20 million viewers and grossed over $1.3 billion, making it one of the most successful productions in the history of Broadway.
The show first opened in London's West End in 1986, where it quickly became a sensation. The musical's popularity spread like wildfire and New York audiences clamored for it to be brought to the Great White Way. Eventually, their wish was granted, and the show was transferred to Broadway, where it enjoyed continued success.
The musical is based on Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel, "The Phantom of the Opera," which follows the story of a mysterious masked figure who lurks within the Paris Opera House. A gifted musician, the phantom, becomes enamored with the talented soprano Christine Daaé. As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that the phantom's love is tinged with a dangerous obsession that leads to bloodshed and tragedy.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's sweeping score provides the perfect backdrop for this chilling tale of love, jealousy and madness. With stunning visual effects and unforgettable performances, "The Phantom of the Opera" has rightfully earned its place as one of the most iconic and enduring musicals of all time.
According to NPR, the late director Harold Prince said at the show's 25th anniversary: "I think the enduring appeal is because it's so romantic and because audiences escape into it. It has a world of its own. And whatever problems they have out on the street and in their daily lives, they come in here and it's like a little kid tripping on a fairy tale or something. Only this is a slightly dangerous one. But the point is, I think that they escape from reality for a couple of hours and in a romantic world."
A little illumination! Our chandelier rises on Broadway for the final time 🌹 pic.twitter.com/GTmKacZYZO— The Phantom Of The Opera (@PhantomOpera) April 16, 2023
Regrettably, despite its allure, the production couldn't sustain itself due to several factors. The show heavily relied on international tourism, which has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic levels. Additionally, the exorbitant cost to run the show, which amounted to a million dollars weekly, coupled with inflation, adversely impacted its lifespan, reported NBC News. As a result, the show's 125 personnel, including the cast, musicians and crew, some of whom have been with the show for thirty years, will now have to seek employment opportunities in other productions. Although the end of such an iconic institution is a sorrowful occasion, both performers and fans transformed the final performances into a celebration of the Phantom's enduring legacy.
Actor Ben Crawford, who had been slated to appear as the titular character for the final performance, was unable to do so due to a bacterial infection. Nevertheless, the show persevered, and it was actor Laird Mackintosh, who had previously understudied the role and returned to the company for its final months, who embodied the phantom's persona one last time, donning the mask and cape for the closing performance.
During the final bows, the cast paid tribute to the show's dedicated stagehands, who received a well-deserved round of applause, a gesture that is uncommon during regular Broadway performances. With a sense of nostalgia and reverence for the production's thirty-five-year run, the final moments of "The Phantom of the Opera" were a bittersweet but fitting tribute to its enduring legacy.