The Phantom of the Opera is a New York City landmark, but it first premiered at Her Majesty’s Theater in London. With music and book by Andrew Lloyd Webber, direction from Harold Prince, and gorgeous costume and production designs from Maria Björnson, the Phantom of the Opera became one of Broadway’s most beloved musicals. It’s the third longest-running West End show overall, after The Mousetrap.
Based on the 1910 novel of the same title by Gaston Leroux, this musical tells the story of a beautiful soprano who becomes obsessed with a disfigured musical genius who lives in the subterranean labyrinth beneath the Paris Opera House. The Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway in 1986, and celebrated its 10,000th performance in 2012 – the first production to ever do so. With a total Broadway gross of more than $1 billion and total worldwide gross receipts of over $6 billion, Phantom was the most financially successful theater event until The Lion King surpassed it in 2014.
Phantom of the Opera previewed at Her Majesty’s Theater in London’s West End on September 27, 1986, and officially opened by October 9. Its original cast included:
- Michael Crawford as The Phantom of the Opera
- Sarah Brightman as Christine Daaé
- Steve Barton as Raoul de Chagny
- Rosemary Ashe as Carlotta Giudicelli
- David Firth as Monsieur Gilles André
- John Savident as Monsieur Richard Firmin
- Mary Millar as Madame Giry
- John Aron as UbaldoPiangi
- Janet Devenish as Meg Giry
- Janos Kurucz as Joseph Buquet
In 2011, its 25th anniversary held in London was screened live in cinemas around the world. During its 30th anniversary in October 2016, the original cast appeared during the curtain call.
The production was forced to go on a hiatus since March 16, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In June 2020, it was announced that the musical is permanently shut down, but the producers are determined to bring it back to London in the future.
In Broadway, Phantom opened in January 1988 at the Majestic Theatre in Manhattan. The production continued throughout the years, where it became the first Broadway musical ever to surpass 10,000 performances in February 2012. By April 2019, the Phantom of the Opera has been staged over 13,000 times.
As of March 12, 2020, the show suspended its production due to the pandemic and will be postponed until September 2020 at its earliest.
The story is based on a horror novel by Gaston Leroux, which has been adapted into numerous films. Phantom of the Opera is a thrilling and romantic account of the legendary Phantom, a deformed musical genius who dwells deep beneath the grand Paris Opera, haunting the place often. Sheltered from the outside world, this lonely romantic man tutors and composes operas for Christine, a beautiful, promising young soprano star-to-be. As Christine experiences success in the theater, a handsome young man from her childhood named Raoul begins to court her. Christine loves Raoul back, but she is torn with her awe of the Phantom.
The Phantom, who is in love with Christine, grows mad and descends into a jealous rage. He terrorizes the opera company with increasingly dangerous threats. Christine becomes secretly engaged with Raoul. The Phantom taunts Raoul and declares war upon them both. This war caused flames to spring up around the mausoleum, and the Phantom ended up murdering Buquet and Piangi. An angry mob vows vengeance for the murders and search together for the Phantom.
In the lair, the Phantom forces Christine to wear a wedding dress and persuade her to stay with him, while ensnaring Raoul in a lasso. He offers her an ultimatum: if she stays with him, he will spare Raoul, but if she refuses, Raoul will die. Christine, still drawn to the Phantom, shows compassion and says that he is not alone and kisses him.
After having experienced Christine’s kindness, he realizes that he can’t force her to stay and frees Raoul. The Phantom yells for them to leave before collapsing to tears. As the angry search mob comes near, the devastated Phantom huddles on his throne beneath his cloak. Along with the mob, Meg approaches the throne and pulls away Phantom’s cloak, but finds only the mask.
- Overture – Orchestra
- “Hannibal Rehearsal” – Carlotta, Piangi, Reyer, Lefevre, André, Firmin, Madame Giry, Meg, Buquet, Ensemble
- “Think of Me” – Christine, Raoul
- “Angel of Music” – The Phantom, Meg, Christine
- “Little Lotte” – Raoul, Christine
- “The Mirror/Angel of Music (Reprise)” – The Phantom, Christine, Raoul
- “The Phantom of the Opera”– Christine, The Phantom
- “The Music of the Night” – The Phantom
- “I Remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It – Christine, The Phantom
- “Magical Lasso” – Buquet, Madame Giry, Meg
- “Notes/Prima Donna” – André, Firmin, Raoul, Carlotta, Madame Giry, Meg, Piangi, The Phantom
- “Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh” – Carlotta, Piangi, The Phantom, Ensemble
- “Why Have You Brought Me Here/Raoul, I’ve Been There” – Raoul, Christine
- “All I Ask of You” – Raoul, Christine
- “All I Ask of You (reprise)” – The Phantom
- Entr’acte – Orchestra
- “Masquerade” – Andre, Firmin, Company
- “Why So Silent” – The Phantom
- “Notes/Twisted Every Way” – André, Firmin, Carlotta, Piangi, Raoul, Christine, Madame Giry, The Phantom
- “Don Juan Triumphant Rehearsal/Phantom of the Opera (Reprise)/Little Lotte (Reprise)” – Christine, Piangi, Reyer, Carlotta, Madame Giry, Ensemble
- “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” – Christine
- “Wandering Child/Bravo, Monsieur…” – The Phantom, Christine, Raoul
- “Don Juan Triumphant” – Carlotta, Piangi, Christine, Ensemble
- “The Point of No Return” – The Phantom, Christine
- “Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer” – The Phantom, Madame Giry, Raoul, Ensemble
- “Finale” – Christine, The Phantom, Raoul, Ensemble
The Phantom of the Opera has nagged numerous awards from prestigious award-giving bodies. Here are some of the notable awards by the original productions both in London and Broadway:
Original London Production
- Best Musical, Evening Standard Theatre Award (1986)
- Best New Musical, Laurence Olivier Award (1986)
- Best Actor in a Musical, Laurence Olivier Award (1986) – Michael Crawford
- Most Popular Show, Laurence Olivier Award (2002)
- Magic Radio Audience Award, Laurence Olivier Award (2016)
Original Broadway Production
- Outstanding Actor in a Musical, Drama Desk Award (1988) – Michael Crawford
- Outstanding Director in a Musical, Drama Desk Award (1988) – Harold Prince
- Outstanding Music, Drama Desk Award (1988) – Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Outstanding Orchestrations, Drama Desk Award (1988) – David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Outstanding Set Design and Costume Design, Drama Desk Award (1988) – Maria Björnson
- Outstanding Lighting Design, Drama Desk Award (1988) – Andrew Bridge
- Best Musical, Tony Award (1988)
- Best Direction of a Musical, Tony Award (1988) – Harold Prince
- Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical, Tony Award (1988) – Michael Crawford
- Best Performance by a Featured Actress in Musical, Tony Award (1988) – Judy Kaye
- Best Scenic Design and Best Costume Design, Tony Award (1988) – Maria Björnson
- Best Lighting Design, Tony Award (1988) – Andrew Bridge
- Best Broadway Musical, Outer Critics Circle Award (1988)
- Best Actor in a Musical, Outer Critics Circle Award (1988) – Michael Crawford
- Best Set Design and Best Costume Design, Outer Critics Circle Award (1988) – Maria Björnson
- Best Lighting Design, Outer Critics Circle Award (1988) – Andrew Bridge