The Phantom of the Opera (1986 musical)
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The Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera (1986 musical).jpg
Music Andrew Lloyd Webber
Richard Stilgoe (additional)
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Basis The Phantom of the Opera
by Gaston Leroux
Premiere 9 October 1986; 36 years ago: Her Majesty's Theatre, London
1986 West End
1989 US tour (Christine Tour)
1990 US tour (Raoul Tour)
1993 US tour (Music Box Tour)
1993 UK tour
1999 UK tour
2009 Buenos Aires, Argentina
2012 UK tour
2013 North American tour
2019-2020 World Tour
2020 UK and Ireland tour
2021 New West End production
2022 Sydney Harbour Bridge Production
2022 Australia Tour
1986 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical
1986 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best New Musical
1988 Tony Award for Best Musical
1988 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Broadway Musical
The Phantom of the Opera is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart, and a libretto by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe. Based on the 1910 French novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux, it tells the story of a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, masked musical genius living in the subterranean labyrinth beneath the Paris Opéra House.
The musical opened in London's West End in 1986 and on Broadway in New York in 1988, in a production directed by Harold Prince and starring English classical soprano Sarah Brightman (Lloyd Webber's then-wife) as Christine Daaé, and Michael Crawford as the Phantom. It won the 1986 Olivier Award and the 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical, with Crawford winning the Olivier and Tony for Best Actor in a Musical. A film adaptation, directed by Joel Schumacher, was released in 2004.
Phantom is currently the longest running show in Broadway history, and celebrated its 10,000th Broadway performance on 11 February 2012, the first production ever to do so. The original West End production remains the second longest-running West End musical, after Les Misérables, and the third longest-running West End show overall, after The Mousetrap. With total estimated worldwide gross receipts of over $6 billion and total Broadway gross of over $1 billion, Phantom was the most financially successful entertainment event until The Lion King surpassed it in 2014. By 2019, it had been seen by over 140 million people in 183 cities across 41 countries. The Broadway production is expected to close in February 2023. 48 hours after the announcement in September 2022, ticket sales for The Phantom of the Opera skyrocketed.
1.4 Design, direction, and choreography
2 West End and Broadway
2.1 First preview at Sydmonton
2.2 The West End
2.2.1 2021 West End Production
3.2 Act I
3.3 Act II
4.1 Original casts
5 Musical numbers
5.2 Act I
5.3 Act II
7.1 Sales and certifications
7.1.1 Original 1986 London production
7.1.2 Local productions
7.1.3 Highlights from The Phantom of the Opera
8 Allegations of plagiarism
9 Other productions
9.1 Film adaptation
9.2 Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular
9.3 Planned French production
10 Copyright release
11 Awards and nominations
11.1 Original London production
11.2 Original Broadway production
13 See also
15 External links
In 1984, Lloyd Webber contacted Cameron Mackintosh, the co-producer of Cats and Song and Dance, to propose a new musical. He was aiming for a romantic piece, and suggested Gaston Leroux's book The Phantom of the Opera as a basis. They screened both the 1925 Lon Chaney and the 1943 Claude Rains motion picture versions, but neither saw any effective way to make the leap from film to stage. Later, in New York, Lloyd Webber found a second-hand copy of the original, long-out-of-print Leroux novel, which supplied the necessary inspiration to develop a musical: said Lloyd Webber, "I was actually writing something else at the time, and I realised that the reason I was hung up was because I was trying to write a major romantic story, and I had been trying to do that ever since I started my career. Then with the Phantom, it was there!"
Lloyd Webber first approached Jim Steinman to write the lyrics because of his "dark obsessive side", but he declined in order to fulfill his commitments on a Bonnie Tyler album. Alan Jay Lerner was then recruited, but he became seriously ill after joining the project and was forced to withdraw; none of his contributions (mostly involving the song "Masquerade" wink are credited in the show. Richard Stilgoe, the lyricist for Starlight Express, was then hired and wrote most of the original lyrics for the show. However, Charles Hart, a young and then-relatively unknown lyricist, later rewrote many of the lyrics, along with original lyrics for "Think of Me". Some of Stilgoe's original contributions are still present in the final version nevertheless. Phantom is primarily a sung-through musical with very little spoken dialogue.
Inspired in part by an earlier musical version of the same story by Ken Hill, Lloyd Webber's score is sometimes operatic in style but maintains the form and structure of a musical throughout. The full-fledged operatic passages are reserved principally for subsidiary characters such as Andre and Firmin, Carlotta, and Piangi. They are also used to provide the content of the fictional operas that are taking place within the show itself, viz., Hannibal, Il Muto, and the Phantom's masterwork, Don Juan Triumphant. "Here, Lloyd Webber pastiched various styles from the grand operas of Meyerbeer through to Mozart and even Gilbert and Sullivan." These pieces are often presented as musical fragments, interrupted by dialogue or action sequences in order to clearly define the musical's "show within a show" format.
The musical extracts from the Phantom's opera, "Don Juan Triumphant", heard during the latter stages of the show, are dissonant and modern—"suggesting, perhaps, that the Phantom is ahead of his time artistically".
Design, direction, and choreography
Maria Björnson designed the sets and over 200 costumes, including the elaborate gowns in the "Masquerade" sequence. Her set designs, including the chandelier, subterranean gondola, and sweeping staircase, earned her multiple awards. Hal Prince, director of Cabaret, Candide, Follies, and Lloyd Webber's Evita, directed the production, while Gillian Lynne, associate director and choreographer of Cats, provided the integral musical staging and choreography.
West End and Broadway
First preview at Sydmonton
A preview of the first act was staged at Sydmonton (Lloyd Webber's home) in 1985, starring Colm Wilkinson (later the star of the Toronto production) as the Phantom, Sarah Brightman as Kristin (later Christine), and Clive Carter (later a member of the London cast) as Raoul. This very preliminary production used Richard Stilgoe's original unaltered lyrics, and many songs sported names that were later changed, such as "What Has Time Done to Me" ("Think of Me" wink , and "Papers" ("Notes" wink . The Phantom's original mask covered the entire face and remained in place throughout the performance, obscuring the actor's vision and muffling his voice. Maria Björnson designed the now-iconic half-mask to replace it, and the unmasking sequence was added. Clips of this preview performance were included on the DVD of the 2004 film production.
The West End
Phantom began previews at Her Majesty's Theatre in London's West End on 27 September 1986 under the direction of Hal Prince, then opened on 9 October. It was choreographed by Gillian Lynne and the sets were designed by Maria Björnson, with lighting by Andrew Bridge. Michael Crawford starred in the title role with Sarah Brightman as Christine and Steve Barton as Raoul. The production, which played at Her Majesty's Theatre, celebrated its 10,000th performance on 23 October 2010, with Lloyd Webber and the original Phantom, Crawford, in attendance. At the time of its closure in 2020, it was the second longest-running musical in West End (and world) history behind Les Misérables, and third overall behind The Mousetrap. The production ran for 13,629 performances, with its final performance taking place on 14 March 2020, prior to the shutdown of theatres resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A 25th-anniversary stage performance was held in London on 1 and 2 October 2011 at the Royal Albert Hall and was screened live in cinemas worldwide. The production was produced by Cameron Mackintosh, directed by Laurence Connor, musical staging & choreography by Gillian Lynne, set design by Matt Kinley, costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Patrick Woodroffe, and sound design by Mick Potter. The cast included Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom, Sierra Boggess as Christine, Hadley Fraser as Raoul, Wynne Evans as Piangi, Wendy Ferguson as Carlotta, Barry James as Monsieur Firmin, Gareth Snook as Monsieur Andre, Liz Robertson as Madame Giry, and Daisy Maywood as Meg Giry. Lloyd Webber and several original cast members, including Crawford and Brightman, were in attendance. A DVD and Blu-ray of the performance was released in February 2012, and it began airing in March 2012 on PBS's "Great Performances" television series.
In March 2012, a new production directed by Laurence Connor began a UK and Ireland tour to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the show, beginning at the Theatre Royal Plymouth and travelled to Manchester, Bristol, Dublin, Leeds, Edinburgh, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, and Southampton. John Owen-Jones and Earl Carpenter alternated as the Phantom, with Katie Hall as Christine and Simon Bailey as Raoul. The 30th anniversary was on 10 October 2016 with a special appearance of the original cast during the curtain call.
In November 2019, the co-producers of Phantom, Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group (RUG), announced that the show would again tour the UK and Ireland, but this time with a return to the original production rather than the 2012 production. Although this announcement stated that the tour would be an "exact replica" of the musical on Broadway and in the West End, alterations were made to the set design in order to make the tour "lighter". These included a scaling down of the production's false proscenium, with the centrepiece Angel statue designed by Maria Björnson removed. Performances of this latest 2020 tour, together with the original London production at Her Majesty's Theatre, were both suspended from 16 March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2020, Mackintosh and RUG announced the premature closure of the tour as a result.
The following month, it was announced that an extended closure of the original London production would be required to refurbish the sets and the theatre. In July 2020, social media outlets posted photographs of the sets, props, and costumes being loaded out from Her Majesty's Theatre. As Mackintosh had only recently closed the original 1985 London production of Les Misérables in order to replace it with a newer production that had previously toured the UK, speculation mounted that the original production of Phantom was to be overhauled or replaced entirely. Confirmation of this speculation was given on 28 July 2020, when Mackintosh announced that he and Lloyd Webber had decided to "permanently close" the original London production after a 33-year run, but that the two were "determined" for the musical to return to the West End.
In response to this announcement, the Really Useful Group denied that the original production was permanently closing, stating that the extended closure was simply to enable a refurbishment of the theatre and that the show would return "unchanged" and any returning production would "not be a new version of the show", but without confirming upon request by The Stage as to whether the production's 27-piece orchestra would return. In October 2020, Mackintosh contradicted this clarification by stating that the "new version" based on the 2020 UK tour would in fact be the production that would be staged at Her Majesty's Theatre post-pandemic.
Mackintosh confirmed in an interview on 4 December 2020 that the original London staging had officially ended, with investors having been given their closing notices, and that the 2020 tour would be moved into the show's original home at Her Majesty's Theatre. Lloyd Webber and Mackintosh announced a planned reopening on 27 July 2021. Planning documentation submitted by LW Theatres confirmed considerable redesigns of Maria Björnson's set, with the removal of the Angel statue and fewer gargoyles on the proscenium as had featured in the original production. It was additionally confirmed on 12 April 2021 that, contrary to claims by Lloyd Webber that the original production would return "in its entirety", the orchestra of the original production (once the largest for any West End musical) was to be halved for the show's return to the West End using the reduced tour orchestrations. On 15 April 2021, Mackintosh confirmed that the original staging would not be reinstated at Her Majesty's Theatre and that the designs of Maria Björnson, direction of Hal Prince, and choreography of Gillian Lynne would be "reimagined by a new team". The producer reconfirmed in an interview with the Daily Telegraph in April 2021 that the 2020 reduced touring redesigns would replace the originals at Her Majesty's Theatre. Full casting for the reopening was announced on 27 April 2021, with all previous longtime cast members having departed the show.
2021 West End Production
The current West End production opened at Her Majesty's Theatre, where the musical had originally premiered in 1986, on 27 July 2021. Ticket sales currently run until 3 March 2023.
Although Lloyd Webber described the show as "substantially identical" to the original production, changes were made to the show's set design by Matt Kinley. This included, among other modifications, the loss of Maria Björnson's sculptures covering the sides of the proscenium (previously described by Harold Prince as the "key to the show") and the levitating Angel statue during the "All I Ask of You" sequence (replaced by a replica of Lequesne's La Renommée retenant Pégase that appears on the stage). Other sequences, including that of the descent to the lair (in which doubles of the Phantom and Christine were excised, previously mobile candelabra became stationary, and the number of candles populating the lake were reduced), were also restaged by Seth Sklar-Heyn. Whereas Prince had envisioned the show as a "black box" production requiring the use of black velour and paint around the proscenium, this was removed as part of the restoration to Her Majesty's Theatre, with once blacked-out stage boxes returned to their original green and red colours and reintroduced for audience use. Gillian Lynne's original choreography was revised by Chrissie Cartwright. The orchestra was reduced to 14 players from the original 27.
The show reopened with Killian Donnelly as the Phantom, Lucy St. Louis as Christine, Rhys Whitfield as Raoul, Saori Oda as Carlotta, and other cast members from the aborted 2020 UK tour.
At the Majestic Theatre
Phantom began Broadway previews at the Majestic Theatre on 9 January 1988 and opened on 26 January. Lloyd Webber had hoped to open in Toronto prior to Broadway, but political pressure forced the change. Crawford, Brightman, and Barton reprised their respective roles from the West End. The production continues to play at the Majestic, where it became the first Broadway musical in history to surpass 10,000 performances on 11 February 2012. On 26 January 2013, the production celebrated its 25th anniversary with its 10,400th performance. It is, by over 3,500 performances, the longest-running show in Broadway history. The 30th anniversary was on 26 January 2018 with special activities and an extra performance during the week. By April 2019, Phantom had been staged over 13,000 times.
Critical reviews were mostly positive on opening. The New York Times' Frank Rich writes: "It may be possible to have a terrible time at The Phantom of the Opera, but you'll have to work at it. Only a terminal prig would let the avalanche of pre-opening publicity poison his enjoyment of this show, which usually wants nothing more than to shower the audience with fantasy and fun, and which often succeeds, at any price." Howard Kissel from New York Daily News commended the production, calling it "a spectacular entertainment, visually the most impressive of the British musicals", and praised Lloyd Webber's score despite its "synthetic, borrowed quality" as well as Michael Crawford's "powerful" performance. Maria Björnson's set and costume design in particular garnered critical acclaim, with reviewers calling it "a breathtaking, witty, sensual tribute to 19th century theater" as well as "marvels of period atmospheric detail and technical savvy".
On 12 March 2020, the show suspended production due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and did not resume performances until 22 October 2021. Unlike the West End production, the Broadway show returned with the original Harold Prince-directed production and Maria Björnson's original set and costume designs. After Prince's death in 2019, his daughter Daisy, who is also a theater director, began serving as an informal advisor for the production.
The show struggled to return to pre-pandemic attendance levels after its return. In September 2022, it was announced that the Broadway production would close on 18 February 2023, shortly after its 35th anniversary. Mackintosh stated that that he was "sure Phantom will come back at some point" to New York City,  provoking speculation that the downscaled 2021 London production will likely transfer to Broadway in the near future.
In the year 1919, the Paris Opéra House hosts an auction of old theatre memorabilia. Among the attendees is an aged Viscount Raoul de Chagny, who purchases Lot 665, a papier-mâché music box with a monkey figurine. He eyes it sadly, cryptically observing that it appears "exactly as she said". The next lot – Lot 666 – is an old chandelier, renovated with electrical wiring. The auctioneer reveals that this chandelier was involved in a famous disaster, connected to "the strange affair of the Phantom of the Opera, a mystery never fully explained". He commands the auction assistants to turn on the power and light up the chandelier for all to see. As the overture plays, it flickers to life and ascends to the ceiling, as a transition back in time restores the opera house to its former grandeur ("Overture" wink .
The year is 1881 – the cast of a new production, Hannibal, is rehearsing ("Hannibal Rehearsal" wink . Carlotta, the Opéra's resident soprano prima donna, begins to perform an aria when a backdrop inexplicably falls from the flies, causing anxious chorus girls to shout, "He's here! The Phantom of the Opera!" The new owners, Firmin and André, try to downplay the incident, but Carlotta angrily storms offstage. Madame Giry, the Opéra's ballet mistress, suggests that Christine Daaé, a chorus girl and orphaned daughter of a prominent Swedish violinist, has been "well taught" and can sing Carlotta's role. As their only alternative is cancelling the sold-out show, the managers reluctantly audition her, and discover that she is indeed talented. As Christine sings the aria during the evening performance, the Opéra's new patron, Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, recognizes her as his childhood friend and playmate ("Think of Me" wink .
Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman performing the title song
Backstage after her triumphant debut, Christine confesses to her friend, Madame Giry's daughter Meg, that her singing has been inspired by an unseen tutor she knows only as the "Angel of Music" ("Angel of Music" wink . Raoul visits Christine in her dressing room and the two reminisce about "Angel of Music" stories that her late father used to tell them. Christine confides that the Angel has visited her and taught her to sing ("Little Lotte" wink . Raoul indulges what he assumes are fantasies and insists on taking Christine to dinner. When Raoul leaves to fetch his hat, Christine hears the jealous Phantom's voice and entreats him to reveal himself. The Phantom obliges by appearing in her mirror ("The Mirror/Angel of Music (Reprise)" wink . Christine is irresistibly drawn through the mirror to the Phantom, who leads her down into the shadowy sewers below the Opéra house. The two board a small boat and cross a subterranean lake to his secret lair ("The Phantom of the Opera" wink . The Phantom explains that he has chosen Christine to sing his musical compositions. A mirror reflects an image of her in a wedding dress; when the mirror image spreads its arms towards the real Christine, she faints from shock. The Phantom lays her on a bed and covers her tenderly with his cloak ("The Music of the Night" wink .
As the Phantom is composing music at his organ, Christine awakens to the sound of the monkey music box ("I Remember" wink . She slips behind the Phantom, lifts his mask, and beholds his disfigured face. The Phantom rails at her prying, then ruefully expresses his longing to be loved ("Stranger Than You Dreamt It" wink . Moved by pity, Christine returns the mask to the Phantom, and he escorts her back above ground.
Meanwhile, Joseph Buquet, the Opéra's chief stagehand, regales the chorus girls with tales of the "Opéra Ghost" and his terrible Punjab lasso. Madame Giry warns Buquet to restrain himself ("Magical Lasso" wink . In the manager's office, she delivers a note from the Phantom: he demands that Christine replace Carlotta as the Countess in the new opera, Il Muto ("Notes" wink . Firmin and André assure the furious Carlotta that she will remain the star ("Prima Donna" wink .
The première of Il Muto initially goes well, until the Phantom suddenly enchants Carlotta's voice, reducing it to a frog-like croak. Firmin rushes to defuse the situation by announcing to the audience that Christine will take over the starring role, and he instructs the conductor to bring the ballet forward to keep the audience entertained. Suddenly, the corpse of Joseph Buquet drops from the rafters, hanging from the Punjab lasso. Mayhem erupts and the Phantom's evil laugh is heard throughout the auditorium ("Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh" wink .
In the ensuing chaos, Christine escapes with Raoul to the rooftop and tells him about her subterranean encounter with the Phantom ("Why Have You Brought Me Here?/Raoul, I've Been There" wink . Raoul is skeptical but promises to love and protect her ("All I Ask of You" wink . The Phantom, who overheard their conversation, is heartbroken and swears revenge on them both. In the auditorium, the chandelier crashes onto the stage during the Il Muto curtain call ("All I Ask of You (Reprise)" wink .
Steve Barton and Sarah Brightman in the final scene
Six months later, the Opera house hosts a masquerade ball. The Phantom, who has been conspicuously absent since the chandelier disaster, appears in costume as the Red Death. He announces that he has written an opera entitled Don Juan Triumphant, and demands that it be produced with Christine (who is now engaged to Raoul) in the lead role. He pulls Christine's engagement ring from the chain around her neck and vanishes in a flash of light ("Masquerade/Why So Silent" wink .
Raoul accosts Madame Giry and demands that she reveal what she knows about the Phantom. She reluctantly explains that the Phantom is a brilliant scholar, magician, architect, inventor, and composer, who was born with a deformed face. Feared and reviled by society, he was cruelly exhibited in a cage as part of a travelling fair until he eventually escaped and took refuge beneath the opera house.
Raoul plots to use the première of Don Juan Triumphant to trap the Phantom and end his reign of terror, knowing he will attend the opera's debut. He begs Christine to help lure the Phantom into the trap ("Notes/Twisted Every Way" wink . Torn between her love for Raoul and her awe of the Phantom, Christine visits her father's grave, begging for his guidance ("Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" wink . The Phantom appears atop the mausoleum ("Wandering Child" wink . Christine begins to succumb to the Phantom's influence, but Raoul arrives to rescue her. The Phantom taunts Raoul, hurling fire balls at him until Christine begs Raoul to leave with her. Furious, the Phantom declares war upon them both.
Don Juan Triumphant premieres with Christine and Piangi, the house tenor, singing the respective lead roles of Aminta and Don Juan. During Don Juan and Aminta's duet, Christine realizes that the Phantom has somehow replaced Piangi ("Don Juan Triumphant/The Point of No Return" wink . She calmly removes his mask, revealing his deformed face to the horrified audience. Exposed, the Phantom hurriedly drags Christine off the stage and back to his lair. Piangi's garrotted body is revealed backstage and the opera house plunges into chaos. An angry mob, vowing vengeance for the murders of Buquet and Piangi, search for the Phantom. Madame Giry tells Raoul how to find the Phantom's subterranean lair and warns him to beware the magical lasso ("Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer" wink .
In the lair, the Phantom forces Christine to don a wedding dress. Raoul comes to the rescue and is ensnared in the Punjab lasso. The Phantom offers Christine an ultimatum: if she will stay with him, he will spare Raoul, but if she refuses, Raoul will die ("The Point of No Return Reprise" wink . Christine tells the Phantom that he's not alone and kisses him.
Having experienced both kindness and compassion for the first time, the Phantom frees Raoul. He also tells Christine that he loves her and she tearfully exits the lair with Raoul. As the angry search mob closes in, the Phantom huddles on his throne beneath his cloak. Meg is the first to enter the lair. She approaches the Phantom's throne and pulls away the cloak, finding only his mask ("Finale" wink .
The original casts of the major productions of The Phantom of the Opera:
Character Original West End cast Original Broadway cast Original Los Angeles cast Original Canadian cast Original Australian cast Original Las Vegas cast Royal Albert Hall 25th Anniversary cast 2019 World tour cast
The Phantom Michael Crawford Colm Wilkinson Anthony Warlow Brent Barrett
Anthony Crivello[a] Ramin Karimloo Jonathan Roxmouth
Christine Daaé Sarah Brightman Dale Kristien
Mary D'Arcy Rebecca Caine Marina Prior Sierra Boggess
Elizabeth Loyacano[a] Sierra Boggess Meghan Picerno
Claire Moore Patti Cohenour
Raoul Steve Barton Reece Holland Byron Nease Dale Burridge Tim Martin Gleason Hadley Fraser Matt Leisy
Carlotta Guidicelli Rosemary Ashe Judy Kaye Leigh Munro Lyse Guerin Christa Leahmann Elena Jeanne Batman
Geena Jeffries Mattox[a] Wendy Ferguson Beverly Chiat
M. Gilles André David Firth Cris Groenendaal Norman Large Paul Massel John O'May John Leslie Wolfe Gareth Snook Curt Olds
M. Richard Firmin John Savident Nicholas Wyman Calvin Remsberg Gregory Cross Jon Ewing Lawson Skala Barry James James Borthwick
Madame Giry Mary Millar Leila Martin Barbara Lang Kristina-Marie Guiguet Geraldene Morrow Rebecca Spencer Liz Robertson Melina Kalomas
Meg Giry Janet Devenish Elisa Heinsohn Elisabeth Stringer Donna Rubin Sharon Millerchip Brianne Kelly Morgan Daisy Maywood Kiruna-Lind Devar
Three roles (The Phantom, Christine, and Carlotta) were double-cast in the original Las Vegas production, with the two actors in each pair singing alternate performances. Later, Las Vegas casting became identical to that in the Broadway production, with single casting for all characters except Christine.
The role of Christine Daaé is double-cast in most professional productions. The secondary actress performs the role twice a week (on Broadway, Thursday evening and Saturday matinée).