Saturday, January 26, 2008

Twenty Year Old Phantom

Twenty Year Old Phantom

Today marks a most auspicious occasion for Broadway's longest running show ever. Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom Of The Opera celebrates its twentieth anniversary treading the boards of Rialto's Majestic Theatre, after opening there on January 26, 2008.

As Kenneth Jones of Playbill points out, after today's showings (both matinee and evening) conclude, the tuner will have enjoyed 8,319 performances.

When Phantom opened stateside a year and a half after its West End debut, its two London leads -- Sarah Brightman (then Webber's wife) and Michael Crawford -- transferred to New York. The original Broadway cast also featured a very young Rebecca Luker in her Great White Way debut.

The Phantom Of The Opera would dominate the 1988 Tony Awards, winning Best Musical over the original Into The Woods, Romance/Romance and Sarafina! Overall, the show received ten Tony nominations and won seven, including for Crawford, Judy Kaye (Best Featured Actress in a Musical) and Hal Prince for Best Direction of a Musical.

Even though I've now seen The Phantom Of The Opera twice (three times if I count my visit last year to Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular), I've never seen it on Broadway. Is that heresy? I mean, I did see the show in London 20 years ago, but the only other time I took in the show was in Los Angeles in 1998 when I was provided a free ticket.

While I've never truly understood the lasting appeal of The Phantom Of The Opera, I realize this is often the very first entry level Broadway or West End show for millions of fans around the world. Over 12.5 million have seen the Broadway incarnation alone, and the production at the Majestic has grossed over $675 million -- more than any film.

And so, The Phantom phenomenon continues. Happy anniversary to everyone associated with the show.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular (The SOB Review) (September 12, 2007)
Where's Oscar The Cat When We REALLY Need Him? (July 20, 2007)
London: The Show Must Go On (June 29, 2007)
Phantom Sequel: So Much For Writing On Otto-Pilot? (June 17, 2007)
Broadway's Longest Running Hits (March 17, 2007)
The Phantom Of Manhattan? (March 12, 2007)
Is It Just Me, Or...(Part II) (February 21, 2007)
Wicked Becomes Broadway's 8th Overall Cumulative Grosser Among Current Hits (June 2, 2006)

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At 26 January, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

I've never had a huge desire to see "Phantom of the Opera," but I suppose I should check it out one day, just to see why it's been around for 20 years. Plus, by the end of March I'll have been in nearly 20 Broadway theaters, and if I want to reach my goal of seeing a show in every single one, I'll have to see "Phantom," because obviously nothing else is moving into the Majestic Theatre for a very long time!

At 26 January, 2008, Blogger SarahB said...

Not heresy. It's my idea of torture.

At 26 January, 2008, Anonymous BroadwayBaby said...

Well, Phantom has quite a few wonderful melodies. Unfortunately, most of them are plagiarized- from Puccini, Debussy and Loewe. Most people don't realize that Webber was actually sued by the Puccini estate for plagiarizing "The Point of No Return" from Puccini's "Girl of the Golden West". I believe ALW had to buy them off with quite a lot of money to make the lawsuit go away.

At 27 January, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, I can understand why you might feel compelled to see Broadway's longest running champ. As Broadway Baby points out it does include some wonderful melodies, but I have to echo Sarah's warning that it can seem liek torture.

Quite frankly, given how absolutely clever Into The Woods is, the Tony voters 20 years ago clearly were buying into the the notion that bigger (translated: spectacle) was better.

At 27 January, 2008, Blogger Mondschein said...

I thought it was the phrase from "Music of the Night" that borrowed from "Golden Girl..."

Also, as much of a Sondheim fan as I am, Phantom has a better book. ITW's second act is just a train wreck - a running issue that the brilliant Mr. Sondheim has always struggled with when writing his own libretti (see also Act II of "Sunday in the Park...") It also would seem to be why he licenses a one-act version of ITW of just the first act (other than to keep it "kiddie-accessible").

IMHO. :-)

At 27 January, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Mondschein, I really loved the second act of ITW, probably for the very reasons you didn't. I thought it was ingenious in its upending of the notion of "happily ever after."

At 27 January, 2008, Blogger Vance said...

I actually finally bit the bullet and saw Phantom for the first time last year (again, surprising for my friends since I'm a musical lover and they were shocked I had never seen it yet) and I got the cheap $25 tickets.

Yeah, it was pretty torturous. Thank goodness I only payed $25. My friend was speechless too (in the bad way).

My theory now is, I think a lot of people actually like musicals but since Phantom was their first (and usually only) musical they saw, they think all musicals are this horrid. If Phantom was the only musical I saw, I would hate musicals too. MANY of my friends have only seen Phantom and say they hate musicals. So this is my whole theory. It explains a lot. No?

(BTW, I LOVED the 2nd act of ITW too. In fact, It's one of my top 5 musicals ever (from what I've seen))

At 28 January, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Vance, We see completely eye to eye on this. I do think that if the first foray into the theatre is a bad experience, that's all it takes in being turned off for life (or at least many years). It's such a shame that TPOTO serves as that vehicle for so many potential theatre lovers.

Glad I'm not alone on ITW. I thought the second act was pure brilliance.

At 28 January, 2008, Blogger Vance said...

Mainly cause many of my friends claim they HATE musicals but the only ones they've seen are Phantom or Cats (and it didn't help that they both played for years in Toronto as well which has a more limited number of musicals).

Meanwhile when I mention Sondheim or stuff, people generally to be clueless so I've been slowly forcing friends to come with me to see better shows in my pursuit to convert everyone! ha! (I actually convinced a huge group of friends to see Into the Woods back in high school when it played in Toronto and everyone loved it, and we've been all going to shows since).

At 29 January, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Vance, Good for you.

The very first Broadway musical I ever saw on Broadway was Cats, which still ranks among the absolute worst shows I've ever seen. I agree with every word you've said and just wish people didn't think that longevity necessarily is equated with great.


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