If there was a hierarchy of Broadway musicals, sitting at the top would be Phantom of the Opera. If it’s not at the top then it’s second or third. Phantom of the Opera is the longest running Broadway musical off all-time.
In fact, the difference between Phantom’s run, which is well over ten thousand performances, and the second place show, Cats, which ran for 7,485 performances, is enough to put it on the list of the longest running shows on the Great White Way. Worldwide, Phantom has been seen in nearly 30 countries, by more than 130 million people, and has grossed more than $5.5 billion.
Phantom of the Opera is set in 1881 at an opera house in Paris. The story revolves around a mysterious figure named “The Phantom” (also referred to as the “Angel of Music”) and his muse, the opera singer Christine Daa. There are a couple of problems though. The Phantom is a murderous crackpot (as well as a musical genius) and Daa is in love with another man, Raoul. Eventually, the Phantom forces the company to produce an opera he composed and demands that Daa play the lead role. The fun really starts on opening night when Daa realizes that she’s on stage singing with the Phantom and not the company’s lead tenor.
Those with Phantom of the Opera tickets are not only in for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best and most complex musical score, they are also in for some great stage effects. Two of the best are the Phantom rowing a boat to his underground lair and a crashing chandelier. Not really a stage effect, but an exciting moment nonetheless, is when Daa rips off the Phantom’s mask and reveals his hideous facial deformity.
Phantom of the Opera debuted on London’s West End in 1986 and Broadway two years later. It won both the Olivier and Tony Award for Best Musical. Even more impressive, Michael Crawford won the same two awards for Best Actor for playing the titular character. Sarah Brightman originated the role of Christine Daa in London and New York. The musical is based on the novel Le Fanta´me de l’Opera by Gaston Leroux. The book was written by Webber and Richard Stilgoe with lyrics by Charles Hart and additional lyrics by Stilgoe. Phantom of the Opera has been produced all over the world and spawned several national tours.