It’s a shock, but it probably shouldn’t be. “The Phantom of the Opera,” the longest-running show in Broadway history, will close on February 18th, shortly after commemorating its 35TH ANNIVERSARY in January.
(See videos below of performances throughout the years.)
The show has grossed a gobsmacking $1.3 billion on Broadway alone. But since its reopening last October after its 19-month pandemic shutdown — celebrated with much fanfare, including a block party djed by Phantom’s composer Andrew Lloyd Webber – the recent weekly grosses have not covered the enormous cost of running a show with a huge cast, full orchestra, and elaborate set, featuring that famous crashing chandelier. (The show’s highest-ever weekly gross, in December, 2017, was $2.1 million. Last week’s gross was $868,000 — more than five other shows, including”Chicago,” but reportedly just not enough to meet expenses.)
After February, “Chicago” will be the longest currently running show on Broadway (having opened in 1996), and Phantom fans will have to travel to London, or Australia, or, soon, China, where productions of the musical are scheduled to continue.
The Phantom of the Opera, written and composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, directed by Hal Prince and produced by Cameron Mackintosh, opened on Broadway at the Majestic Theater on January 26, 1988. Based on a 1911 French novel by Gaston Leroux, the musical tells the story of a disfigured genius named Erik who lives in the catacombs of the Paris Opera House and falls in love with Christine, an aspiring singer whom he helps…until an old flame of Christine’s named Raoul steps back into the picture.
However, the story in the musical— with more than its share of 1980′s heavy power ballads — arguably took second place to the story of the musical, which is by far the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, and probably the most profitable.
Its fans are legion — enough in 2014 to spur The Phantom of the Opera Art Gallery and Pop-Up Shop, showcasing the 26 winners of a nation-wide contest to create artistic Phantom masks.
Webber wrote a “sequel,” entitled “Love Never Dies,” which was set for Broadway in the 2010-2011 season, but, after scathing reviews in London, never materialized.
Every year for the past decade (except during the pandemic), I’ve recorded performances by members of the cast of the show at various free outdoor concerts, most regularly the Broadway at Bryant Park lunchtime concerts. Here are some of those videos, starting in 2012, and as recently as last month:
Trista Moldovan, Kyle Barisich, Paul D. Schaefer
Hugh Panaro and Mary Michael Patterso:
Ali Ewoldt and and Jordan Donica:
Emilie Kouatchou and John Riddle