With liters of champagne, gold and silver confetti and of course a standing ovation, Broadway has said goodbye to The Phantom of the Opera. With 13,981 performances, it was the longest-running New York musical ever.
“It kind of feels like your childhood home is being sold after 35 years,” said actor Laird Mackintosh, who played the title role in the latter show. “We were like a family, a home.”
The British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber had come to New York especially for the farewell. “I thought this was one of the best performances the Phantom has ever had.” He dedicated the last performance to his son Nick, who died of cancer last month at the age of 43. “He heard this music when he was a little boy.”
“Maybe the musical will return,” said Andrew Lloyd Webber. “You never know”:
The Phantom is about the doomed love of a deformed opera talent for the young soprano he accompanies. The New York version began on January 26, 1988, following success in London’s West End, where the show continues to run.
The musical grew into a worldwide success: spread over 183 cities, the production was seen by 145 million people. A Dutch edition ran in the early 1990s with Henk Poort in the title role. Versions are still running in Japan, Australia, Italy and South Korea, among others.
In New York, the receipts rose to 1.3 billion dollars. Although the show survived 9/11, recessions and Hurricane Sandy, the covid pandemic proved to be the final blow. Weekly it cost a million dollars to stage the production because of the large cast, full orchestra, and elaborate sets and costumes. It was no longer profitable due to the absence of tourists.
When the producers announced that the curtain would fall last year, it meant another uptick in ticket sales. The final closure could therefore be postponed from February to mid-April, but last night it was really over. The longest-running Broadway show is now Chicago, which had its first performance in 1996.
The last night was attended by many celebrities, such as actress Glenn Close, musical star Lin-Manuel Miranda and Senator Chuck Schumer. Former players were also invited, including Sarah Brightman, who was the first to play the role of the young soprano Christine on Broadway. “It feels strange, I think it should never end,” she said in advance on the red carpet. “I think people are going to miss it so much that there’s going to be a reprise at some point.”
In any case, producer Cameron Mackintosh believes in it. “I’ve been a producer for 55 years and I’ve seen all the great musicals come back. With the Phantom being one of our best, I think it’s only a matter of time.”
Lloyd Webber also sees a future for his most famous work. “A comeback is possible,” he said during his open cloth. “You never know.”
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