Posted in Andrew Lloyd Webber, long running Broadway musical, Majestic Theatre, Phantom, The Long Running Broadway Musical, Tony winner

The “Angel of Music”

Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre
The Company in a London production performing “Masquerade.” Photo by Matthew Murphy.

It is unrivaled, really, to have a show run for so long that it has gone well past its first  generation. Longevity, of course, is not the only thing to recommend the longest-running musical melodrama on Broadway.

The Phantom of the Opera, still going strong after 30 years on Broadway at The Majestic, has a new leading anti-hero, the young Broadway veteran Ben Crawford. He will be donning the mask  originally worn by Michael Crawford when the show opened in January 1988. and more recently by Norm Lewis and James Barbour. Crawford was last seen on the stage as Mr. Salt in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The 19th Raoul in the musical’s storied history on Broadway, Jay Armstrong Johnson will be joining the cast on April 30th. Johnson has appeared in the original Broadway casts of Hair (revival, in his Broadway debut), and Catch Me If You Can to name a few of his many theater credits. Johnson has also appeared in movies and television, including his leading role in ABC TV’s Quantico.

Ben Crawford as the malevolent masked man and Jay Armstrong Johnson as the dashing Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, join current principal cast members Ali Ewoldt as Christine, (with Kaley Ann Voorhees taking on the role at certain performances,)  Laird Mackintosh as Monsieur André, Craig Bennett as Monsieur Firmin, Raquel Suarez Groen as Carlotta, Carlton Moe as Piangi, Maree Johnson as Madame Giry and Kara Klein as Meg Giry.

To learn more about Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic Phantom, and for tickets to the Broadway production (with links to its worldwide reach), please visit The Phantom‘s website.

Posted in also a film, Andrew Lloyd Webber, based on a film, film, long running Broadway musical, Long running musical, Phantom, similar to a film plot, The Long Running Broadway Musical

“The music of the night…” plays on

Your assignment, my pets, is to see the 1943 film of the same name as  the long-running Broadway musical.

The cinematic version is not strictly speaking a musical but it is full of melodies. Many a colorful opera is staged during the course of the movie. Nelson Eddy is Anatole, the baritone in love with the soprano Christine Dubois (Susanna Foster), who is also the object of adulation for Raoul (Edgar Barrier), the prefect of the Sécurité– in other words, a police captain.

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Leading trio celebrating the 29th year anniversary of New York’s longest running musical. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

She is also adored at a distance by a modest and timid older man, Erique Claudin, played by Claude Rains. Unlike Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom, he is not a singer; he is the first violin in the Paris Opéra Orchestra. Like Broadway’s Phantom he is so obsessed with Christine that he will kill for her advancement. Along the way, this meek and odd little man collects some genuine and deep-seated grievances to warrant his unravelling as well.

Claudin has a champion in the figure of Franz Liszt (Fritz Lieber) who admires the concerto the violinist submitted- without success- to a recalcitrant publisher, Pleyel (Miles Mander). None of this diverts Claudin from Christine. And, oh, do watch out for that chandelier!

Once you have completed your homework, go see #PhantomBroadway again, or for the first time. It is lusher and more layered than the wonderful 1943 film version of Phantom of the Opera.  (Note that if it happens you are not in New York City, you may find Phantom on Tour or in London and Budapest, for instance.)

It is truly a musical, operatically filled with memorable lyrics and superb music. It is also so fantastical as to invite repeated visits to a theater near you.

The production is the longest running Broadway musical, having hit its 29th year mark last January. The Phantom currently in residence is James Barbour, with Ali Ewoldt and Rachel Eskanazi-Gold alternating as Christine. Raoul, who is a Vicomte and not a policeman here, is played by Rodney Ingram.

In the Lloyd Webber incantation, the Phantom is a singer with some of the most gorgeous songs to sing. He is a beautiful, evil-hearted beast. He is Christine Daaé’s Svengali and his melodies haunt as he haunts the Paris Opéra House.

For tickets, please visit the #PhantomBroadway website, which will also guide you to the touring companies.

Posted in Andrew Lloyd Webber, long running Broadway musical, Tony winner

“The Music of the Night”

jeremydaniel
(c) Jeremy Daniel from the stage of the Majestic Theatre

Okay, so now as Phantom approaches its 12,000 performance at the Majestic on November 28th, it is time to visit (or perhaps re-visit) this record-breaking musical.

After  January 26, 2017, as it enters its 29th year on Broadway, Phantom of the Opera becomes an event, a go-to destination, a bright fixture. You get the picture. Go, see James Barbour in the lead role opposite Ali Ewoldt as Christine Danae, and welcome the returns of Kaley Ann Voorhees as the Christine alternative, and Linda Balgord as Madame Giry in the new year.

Phantom has broken records before, of course, in January 26, 2013, it was the first show to celebrate 25 years on the stage. It became  the longest-running show in Broadway history on January 9, 2006 with its 7,486th performance, surpassing the previous record-holder Cats, also by Andrew Lloyd Webber and also produced by Cameron Mackintosh. Since breaking the record 11 years ago, Phantom has played  more than 4,500 performances – which by itself would be a smash hit run for a Broadway musical.

To put this in perspective, sort of, note that Broadway’s second longest-running show, Chicago (in revival) has played for just 20 years. Phantom has had the curtain fall on 4,000 more shows than Chicago over the years. Even now, it is consistently among Broadway’s highest-grossing shows and remains a box office star. Phantom also plays to the world, and its productions around the globe have been enjoyed by a staggering 140 million people in 35 countries and 160 cities in 15 languages. As we said, its an event!

 

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After 11,000 performances, a musical drama could be forgiven if it began to show some wear.  In theater time, a run of more than 25 years is a very long lifetime.

The Company in “Masquerade” in a photo by Matthew Murphy. The Company in “Masquerade” in a photo by Matthew Murphy.

The Phantom of the Opera, in its 27th year on Broadway, at the Majestic Theatre, hasn’t aged, or rather it has aged well. This is not a show resting on its laurels. Or on its worldwide success in tours all over the US, in Stockholm or Budapest or Istanbul, among the many places it has found a home.

Despite the myriad other accomplishments of his career, Phantom may prove to be Andrew Lloyd Webber’s crowning legacy. It was a breakout hit from its opening night at the Majestic in 1988, where it walked away with 7 Tony Awards, including for Best Musical, Design and Direction.

A scene from "The Phantom of the Opera," Jeremy Hays – Solo “Final Lair” in a photo by Joan Marcus. A scene from “The Phantom of the Opera,”…

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