By Adia Miller
It’s not news to anybody that when it comes to plays and musicals, making it to Broadway is hitting it big. Andrew Lloyd Webber is one of the beloved musical composers with works such as Cats, Sunset Boulevard, and Evita. But perhaps his best-known work is the 1986 musical The Phantom of the Opera based on Gaston Leroux’s 1909 French novel.
The Phantom of the Opera follows young ballerina and singer Christine Daae who works as a chorus girl at the Paris Opera House. She becomes the object of obsession of a mysterious masked stranger who lives beneath the opera house. Known to her as the Angel of Music, he writes the productions performed at the Opera in return for a cut and an open box seat from which to watch the performances, uninterrupted and unseen.
The Phantom is enchanted by Christine’s voice and seeks to place her as the star of all future performances. When the Opera’s owners ignore his request, the Phantom murders a stagehand.
Then Christine’s childhood friend and lover Vicomte Raoul de Chamsey returns to her life as a patron of arts, so the Phantom feels threatened and begins to take it out on the opera house’s residents.
Webber’s musical is the longest-running Broadway show, with 35 years on the stage totaling 13,925 performances, 16 Phantoms, and 37 Christines.
Webber innovated the musical with a signature rock opera composition and performers who must possess a wide vocal range. Songs like the title theme “The Phantom of the Opera,” “All I Ask of You,” and “Music of the Night” have become Broadway classics that can easily compete with the likes of its predecessors like Carousel or The King and I.
Originally scheduled to end in early February, the musical ended up extending its run another eight weeks to finish out April 16 after a sudden demand for tickets.
While Broadway has never had a problem getting people to attend their shows, people are flocking to the theaters to see this show before its record-breaking run ends resulting in the show’s highest-grossing week. Currently, the few and cheapest tickets left are selling at $695.
Luckily, Broadway is not the only place to see the Phantom on stage. Regional and traveling productions show up here and there as well as higher budget runs at London’s West End or in Melbourne, Australia. A film version of the musical was also made in 2004 with Gerard Butler as the title character and Emmy Rossum as Daae.
Plus, if you’re just looking for more Phantom, the book is a classic and there have been numerous adaptations that play off different elements of the original work, mainly horror and romance, such as the 1925 Universal silent film starring Lon Chaney, or the disturbing 1975 cult classic Phantom of the Paradise.