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'Phantom of the Opera' takes a final Broadway bow after 13,981 performances

Jeff Lunden

Jeff Lunden

phantom of the opera broadway wiki

John Riddle as Raoul, Laird Mackintosh as the Phantom and Emilie Kouatchou as Christine, take a bow at the end of the final performance of the Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater in New York City on April 16, 2023. Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

John Riddle as Raoul, Laird Mackintosh as the Phantom and Emilie Kouatchou as Christine, take a bow at the end of the final performance of the Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater in New York City on April 16, 2023.

On Sunday night, April 16, the curtain will fall on the longest-running show in Broadway history. The Phantom of the Opera , Andrew Lloyd Webber's mega hit musical, is closing after more than 35 years.

The stats are absolutely staggering – since it opened on Broadway in January of 1988, Phantom has played almost 14,000 performances to audiences of over 20 million, grossing over $1.3 billion. An estimated 6,500 people have been employed by the production – including over 400 actors – and it takes a cast, orchestra and crew of 125 to put on the show. On Monday, it will all be over.

"I got the gig of a lifetime. There's no other way to describe it," says Richard Poole, who's been a member of the ensemble, playing small roles, for almost 25 years. "It's given me the ability to have security, to plan ahead," says Poole. "It gives me discipline and structure in my life, and it gives me a constant way to maintain my craft."

phantom of the opera broadway wiki

Steve Barton (from left), Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman during the curtain call at the end of the premiere performance of The Phantom of the Opera on Jan. 26, 1988 at New York's Majestic Theatre. Ed Bailey/AP hide caption

Musician Joyce Hammann has been at the show even longer than Poole: "I'm concertmaster at Phantom of the Opera , which is first violin. And holy moly, I've been there 33 and a half years." Hammann is one of several members of the orchestra to have a "Phantom baby" – her son, Jackson just turned 18. "This has been his home away from home," she says. "People [here] have watched him grow up. He had the pleasure of sitting backstage during Saturday matinees sometimes when I wasn't able to get a babysitter."

The Phantom of the Opera , for those who've never seen it, is the story of a disfigured genius who haunts the Paris Opera House, pining away for a young soprano, Christine, who's in love with a dashing count. People die, a chandelier crashes to the stage, but love kinda triumphs ... all set to a sweeping romantic score.

25 Years Strong, 'Phantom Of The Opera' Kills And Kills Again

25 Years Strong, 'Phantom Of The Opera' Kills And Kills Again

"I was very keen to write something which was a high romance at the time, having done Evita and having done Cats and various things, which ... didn't let me ... go in that direction at all," Lloyd Webber recalled in 2013, for the show's 25 th anniversary on Broadway. When he read Gaston Leroux's novel, he found the vehicle and collaborated with Richard Stilgoe and Charles Hart on the adaptation, directed by Hal Prince.

"I think the enduring appeal is because it's so romantic and because audiences escape into it," the late director said for the 25 th anniversary. "It has a world of its own. And whatever problems they have out on the street and in their daily lives, they come in here and it's like a little kid tripping on a fairy tale or something. Only this is a slightly dangerous one. But the point is, I think that they escape from reality for a couple of hours and in a romantic world."

Music Interviews

'phantom of the opera': 20 years in the pit.

"The Phantom being misunderstood, I think is a big symbol for a lot of people," says Ben Crawford, who now has the distinction of being the last Phantom to haunt the Majestic Theatre on Broadway. [Ed. Note: Laird Mackintosh played the Phantom at the final performance on Sunday, April 16, filling in for Crawford who was ill.] Like other Phantoms before him, he has a special relationship with the Phans who've visited the show over and over. Some even send him their own artwork. "They saw that I had dinosaurs in my room," he says, "because when I play with my kids on FaceTime, my son loves dinosaurs, so they 3D printed this velociraptor that's, like, in a tuxedo with a phantom mask. And it came to my dressing room in a box with, like, holes in it so it could breathe."

But even the longest running show in Broadway history has to close at some point. Producer Cameron Mackintosh says Phantom was losing money, even before the pandemic. So, last September, he and Andrew Lloyd Webber announced a final date. "The following week, we were profitable for the first time," Mackintosh said in a phone interview from London. "So, you know, it was the right decision to take at the right time. And, you know, I think people's memory now is back with people saying Phantom of the Opera is one of the great successes of all time, which is what one always prays when a great show finishes."

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So, Phantom is going out with a bang – it's been selling out again. Music supervisor and conductor David Caddick has been around since the very beginning – he was music director for a staged reading on Andrew Lloyd Webber's estate back in 1984. He's conducting the final performances on Broadway. "I simply don't know how I'll feel on the morning of the 17th of April," Caddick says. "At the moment, it's about maintaining what we have: keeping the show vibrant. I still give notes to the actors, to the orchestra. We will look to maintain every element of the production through to the very last note."

There are plans for some surprises at the final curtain call. Actor Richard Poole says the closing is bittersweet. " I was retiring anyway," he says. "So, I have a very enviable spot in my life in the fact that I had something to go to, which was nothing!" For the other 124 people employed by The Phantom of the Opera , it's time to find a new gig.

phantom of the opera broadway wiki

The Phantom of the Opera marquee is shown above on April 13, 2023, at the Majestic Theater in New York City. The final performance will be on Sunday, April 16. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

The Phantom of the Opera - The Phantom of the Opera 1988

The Phantom of the Opera

About this production.

  • Production Staff
  • Opening Night Cast
  • Replacements

Majestic Theatre (Jan 26, 1988 - Apr 16, 2023)

  • Songs music by Andrew Lloyd Webber ; lyrics by Charles Hart Act 1 Sung By Think of Me Carlotta Guidicelli, Christine Daaé and Raoul Angel of Music Christine Daaé and Meg Giry Little Lotte/The Mirror (Angel of Music) Raoul, Christine Daaé and Phantom of the Opera The Phantom of the Opera Phantom of the Opera and Christine Daaé The Music of the Night Phantom of the Opera I Remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It Christine Daaé and Phantom of the Opera Magical Lasso Joseph Buquet, Meg Giry, Madame Giry and Ballet Chorus of the Opéra Populaire Notes/Prima Donna Monsieur Firmin, Monsieur André, Raoul, Carlotta Guidicelli, Madame Giry, Meg Giry, Ubaldo Piangi and Phantom of the Opera Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh Carlotta Guidicelli and Company Why Have You Brought Me Here/Raoul I've Been There Raoul and Christine Daaé All I Ask of You Raoul and Christine Daaé All I Ask of You (Reprise) Phantom of the Opera Act 2 Sung By Masquerade/Why So Silent Full Company Notes/Twisted Every Way Monsieur André, Monsieur Firmin, Carlotta Guidicelli, Ubaldo Piangi, Raoul, Christine Daaé, Madame Giry and Phantom of the Opera Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again Christine Daaé Wandering Child/Bravo, Bravo Phantom of the Opera, Christine Daaé and Raoul The Point of No Return Phantom of the Opera and Christine Daaé Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer Full Company

Tony Award®

phantom of the opera broadway wiki

Best Musical

Best book of a musical, best original score, best actor in a musical, best featured actress in a musical, best scenic design, best costume design, best lighting design, best choreography, best direction of a musical, drama desk award, outstanding musical, outstanding actor in a musical, outstanding actress in a musical, outstanding featured actress in a musical, outstanding choreography, outstanding director of a musical, outstanding orchestration, outstanding music, outstanding costume design, outstanding lighting design, outstanding set design, the phantom of the opera statistics, more productions by opening date.

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Discover the real history behind 'The Phantom of the Opera'

Learn about the myths and legends that inspired the classic musical.

Gillian Russo

The Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your... history book? He could be, or at least inside a book of legends. The story of a masked, disfigured Paris Opera House dweller who puts an ingenue under his musical spell sounds like the stuff of myths. But stories of a chandelier crash and a ghost at the opera house in Paris circulated long before The Phantom of the Opera , now set to close in February 2023, became the longest-running Broadway show and third-longest-running West End show in history.

Compoer   Andrew Lloyd Webber based the show on a 1910 novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux. And he based his novel on multiple spooky events in the Palais Garnier, the opera house where the  Phantom book and musical are set.

Some of the stories of people, places, and events that inspired  The Phantom of the Opera are true. Others are probably not, but they're fun legends that Leroux immortalized and Webber later made famous with his iconic score. While no one knows exactly how true these stories are, here's how they inspired Leroux to create the tale that haunts and thrills audiences over a century later, and how Webber made them his own.

Experience these tales now before  The Phantom of the Opera  closes on Broadway.

Get The Phantom of the Opera tickets now.

Is  The Phantom of the Opera  based on a true story?

Yes and no — the plot of  The Phantom of the Opera  is fictional, but parts are inspired by true stories and legends. While everything in the musical did not actually happen, many elements of the show (and the novel it's based on) are taken from real stories of what happened at a Paris opera house. For example, there was actually a devastating chandelier accident, and there are many rumors of a ghostly presence haunting the theatre.

Read more below to find out what true (and ghost) stories inspired the record-breaking show, and see them on stage before The Phantom of the Opera  closes. 

The chandelier crash in Phantom  was inspired by a true event. 

The Act 1 finale, during which a one-ton chandelier comes crashing down onto the stage, is one of the most iconic moments in The Phantom of the Opera musical. It's thrilling to watch live, and it was inspired by a real tragedy at the Palais Garnier. Contrary to popular belief, though, it wasn't actually the chandelier that fell. On May 20, 1896, a performance of the opera Helle was underway when a counterweight, one of multiple which held the chandelier up, broke loose and fell through the ceiling.

One person was killed, and several others were injured. Forensic investigators later said a nearby electrical wire probably overheated and melted the steel cable holding up the counterweight, causing its fall. In The Phantom of the Opera book and musical, the Phantom cuts the whole chandelier loose during the curtain call of the opera Il Muto , in order to exact revenge on Christine for falling in love with Raoul instead of him. Luckily, no one in the musical dies from the crash.

phantom 750-nytg

The Paris Opera House really has an underground lake.

Yes, the Palais Garnier actually has an underground lake! In the  Phantom musical and book, the lake is the centerpiece of the Phantom's lair. A feat of theatrical magic transforms the Broadway stage into the lake, on which the Phantom and Christine ride on a canoe amid the mist, as he sings the music of the night.

Legend goes that a faceless man (and some fish) once lived in the lake. Leroux heard the rumor and ran with it. In reality, the lake looks more like a sewer and had a much more practical purpose: keeping well and steam pump water away while the opera house foundation was being built. The only occupants of the "lake" as of late are a single white catfish (the opera house staff's unofficial pet) and French firefighters, who practice swimming in the dark there. We wonder if they've ever heard music coming from seemingly nowhere while doing so...

The Phantom is based on a real ghost story.

The many legends that inspired the Phantom are shrouded in as much mystery as the character himself. One story goes that in 1873, a stage fire destroyed the Paris Opera company's old venue, the Salle Le Peletier. (That part is true.) A ballerina died and her fiancé, a pianist, was disfigured. Legend has it that he retreated to the underground of the Palais Garnier, the company's new venue, and lived there until he died. Is he the same faceless man that supposedly lived in the lake? That's uncertain, but it's clear how these legends inspired the Phantom's appearance and living situation in Leroux's book.

Another rumor that inspired Leroux is the story of a ghost who haunts the Palais Garnier. Not only did the tale inspire him, but Leroux became obsessed with proving that the ghost was real. In the prologue to The Phantom of the Opera  novel, he talks about the mysterious disappearance of one Vicomte de Chagny, who disappeared to Canada for 15 years without a trace. When he finally returned to Paris, he immediately went to the Palais and asked for a free opera ticket.

Leroux goes on to claim that Chagny and his brother were fighting over Christine Daaé (a fictional character), insinuating that a "tragedy" happened between the two. Since the Vicomte is clearly the inspiration for Christine's childhood friend and lover, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, in Leroux's novel, it appears he believed the brother is the ghost, who was killed in some sort of tussle and now haunts the shadowy corners of the Palais Garnier.

Though the ghost's presence is hearsay — or, according to some sources, the opera house ghost is actually a jilted old woman — Leroux firmly believed the ghost is real. He also claimed that a body was unearthed below the Palais Garnier, which belonged to the would-be ghost and proved his story. (The fact that the revolutionary French Commune government used the Palais basement to hold prisoners is a somewhat more likely explanation for the body.) After all that, it's almost ironic that the titular character of The Phantom of the Opera isn't an actual ghost, but he kept the name "The Phantom" for his otherworldly, ghostly presence.

The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote Christine Daaé based on his real love story. 

Christine Daaé is a fully fictional character, but some researchers say she was inspired by Christina Nilsson, a Swedish soprano who enjoyed a 20-year career as an acclaimed international opera singer. Other accounts say that Christine was partly inspired by a ballerina named Nanine Dorival, though no one knows for sure. Dorival (along with an acquaintance of Leroux's named Madame la Baronne de Castelot-Barbezac) is also said to have inspired the character of Meg Giry, as Dorival and Giry's mothers are both boxkeepers.

What's certain is that Webber's real-life romance inspired how he'd adapt Christine's character for the musical 70 years later. When he was writing The Phantom of the Opera , Webber was married to Sarah Brightman, a classical soprano who he'd met and married after she starred in his musical Cats in the West End.

He wrote the role of Christine for Brightman, composing the character's songs to fit her vocal range. After she originated the role in the West End, Webber naturally wanted Brightman to do so on Broadway, too. The Actor's Equity union refused at first, saying he should cast an American actor and that international Broadway leads had to be major stars. But love conquered all — Webber insisted, and he came to a compromise with Equity that he'd cast an American lead in his next London production. Webber and Brightman eventually divorced, but her influence on the role remains forever.

The Phantom of the Opera love triangle comes from a legend. 

One of the inspirations for the main characters' love triangle is mentioned above, about how two brothers supposedly fought over a woman named Christine. There's another spooky story, though, that is said to have inspired Leroux. According to legend, a ballet dancer named Boismaison fell for the aforementioned  ballerina Nanine Dorival. However, a French sergeant, Monsieur Mauzurier, also loved her, and he took it upon himself to get Boismaison out of the picture.

Boismaison had willed his bones to the Paris Opera in the hopes that he'd stay near his lover even after he died. According to a now-debunked legend, they honored his wishes and held onto his bones, even using his skeleton as a prop in Le Freischütz , an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. Nevertheless, the fabled love triangle inspired that of Raoul, the Phantom, and Christine. With source material as bizarre as this, it's no wonder that The Phantom of the Opera 's love story became a Gothic horror for the ages.

Originally published on Sep 29, 2022 13:00

The Phantom of the Opera

  • Edit source
  • View history
  • 1.1 Prologue
  • 2.1 Original casts
  • 2.2 Notable West End replacements
  • 2.3 Notable Broadway replacements
  • 3 Musical Numbers
  • 6 References

Sypnosis [ ]

Prologue [ ].

In 1911 Paris, the Paris Opéra hosts an auction of old theatrical props. [1] Among the attendees is the Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, who purchases a papier-mâché music box and eyes it sadly, remarking how the details are "exactly as she said." [2] [3] The auctioneer presents the next item for bid, "lot 666", "a chandelier in pieces", alluding to a connection with "the Phantom of the Opera". As the porters remove the drop cloth covering the fixture, it flickers to life and ascends to the ceiling as the auditorium's former grandeur is restored ("Overture").

It is now 1881 [4] and the cast of a new production, Hannibal , are rehearsing onstage when they learn that new owners, Firmin and André, are taking over the Paris Opéra House ("Hannibal Rehearsal"). Carlotta, the Opéra's resident soprano prima donna , begins to perform an aria for the new managers when a backdrop inexplicably falls from the flies, barely missing her and prompting anxious chorus girls to whisper, "He's here! The Phantom of the Opera!". The managers try to downplay the incident, but Carlotta angrily insists that such things have been happening for "three years" and she storms out, quitting the show. Madame Giry, the Opéra's ballet mistress , informs Firmin and André that Christine Daaé , a chorus girl and orphaned daughter of a prominent violinist, has been "well taught" and can sing Carlotta's role. With cancellation of the sold-out show being their only other alternative, the managers reluctantly audition her and are surprised to discover that she is indeed talented. As Christine sings the aria during the evening performance, the Opéra's new patron, Raoul, the Vicomte de Chagny, recognises her as his childhood friend and playmate ("Think of Me").

Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman performing the title song

Backstage after her triumphant début, Christine confesses to her friend Meg, Madame Giry's daughter, that she knows her mysterious teacher only as an invisible "Angel of Music" ("Angel of Music") who sings to her in her dreams. Raoul pays a visit to Christine's dressing room and the two reminisce about the "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"). 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 as a ghostly, partially masked face in her mirror ("The Mirror/Angel of Music (Reprise)"). Believing him to be the Angel of Music sent by her deceased father, Christine is irresistibly drawn through the mirror to the Phantom, who leads her down into the cellars of the Opéra house. The two then board a small boat and cross a subterranean lake to his secret lair (" The Phantom of the Opera "). The Phantom explains that he has chosen Christine to sing his music and serenades her. When he reveals a mirror that reflects an image of her in a wedding dress , the figure in the mirror gestures to Christine and she faints from shock. The Phantom then covers her tenderly with his cloak and puts her on a bed (" The Music of the Night ").

As the Phantom is composing music at his organ, Christine awakens to the sound of the monkey music box ("I Remember"). Overcome with curiosity, she slips behind the Phantom, lifts his mask, and beholds his grotesquely disfigured face. The Phantom rails at her prying gesture and Christine runs in fear. He then ruefully expresses his longing to be loved ("Stranger Than You Dreamt It"). 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 arrives and warns Buquet to exercise restraint or face the Phantom's wrath ("Magical Lasso"). In the managers' office, André and Firman read notes from the Phantom and are interrupted by Raoul, who accuses them of sending him a note saying that he should make no attempt to see Christine again. Carlotta and Piangi then burst in, demanding to know who sent Carlotta a note warning that her "days at the Opéra Populaire are numbered." As André and Firmin try to calm Carlotta, Madame Giry delivers another note from the Phantom: he demands that Christine replace Carlotta as the Countess in the new opera, Il Muto, and that Box 5 be kept empty for him. The managers are warned they will face a "disaster beyond imagination" if these demands are not met ("Notes"). Firmin and André assure the furious Carlotta that she will remain their star and Christine will play the Pageboy, a silent role ("Prima Donna").

The première of Il Muto initially goes well, until the voice of the Phantom suddenly cuts through the performance, enraged that Box 5 was not kept empty for him as he had directed. As Christine whispers that she knows the Phantom is near, Carlotta reminds her that her role is silent, calling her a "little toad ". The Phantom states that it is Carlotta who is the toad and reduces the diva's voice 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. Firmin and André plead for calm as mayhem erupts and the Phantom's sinister laugh is heard throughout the auditorium ("Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh").

In the ensuing chaos after Il Muto, Christine escapes with Raoul to the roof and tells him about her subterranean encounter with the Phantom ("Why Have You Brought Me Here?/Raoul, I've Been There"). Raoul is skeptical but promises to love Christine cries in tears and protect her, and Christine reciprocates his vow (" All I Ask of You "). Christine and Raoul go back inside, unaware that the Phantom has overheard their entire conversation. The heartbroken Phantom angrily vows revenge before returning to the auditorium. After the curtain call, the chandelier crashes on the stage ("I Gave You My Music").

Steve Barton and Sarah Brightman in the final scene

Six months later, during a masquerade ball , the Phantom 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 secretly engaged to Raoul) in the lead role, and he warns of dire consequences if his demands are not met. Noticing an engagement ring on a chain around Christine's neck, the Phantom angrily pulls it from her and vanishes in a blinding flash of light ("Masquerade/Why So Silent").

As the masquerade attendees scatter in fear, Raoul accosts Madame Giry and demands that she reveal what she knows about the Phantom. Madame Giry reluctantly explains that the Phantom is actually a brilliant scholar, magician, architect, inventor, and composer who was born with a terrifyingly deformed face and was ostracized for it. Feared and reviled by society, he was cruelly exhibited in a cage as part of a traveling fair until he eventually escaped and disappeared. He subsequently took refuge beneath the opera house, which has now become his home.

Before rehearsals, Raoul plots to use the première of Don Juan Triumphant as a trap to capture the Phantom and put an end to his reign of terror. Carlotta falsely accuses Christine of being the mastermind, suggesting that it is all a ploy to make her the star. Christine angrily defends herself, explaining that she is his victim just like everyone else. Raoul, knowing of the Phantom's obsession with his fiancée, asserts that the Phantom will attend the opera's première and begs a reluctant Christine to help lure the Phantom into the trap, but she refuses ("Notes/Twisted Every Way"). During rehearsal, Piangi is unable to sing his part in the new opera, causing frustration and chaos for everyone. The piano suddenly begins to play the piece by itself (having been possessed by the Phantom) and the entire company immediately sings the proper notes in unison.

Torn between her love for Raoul and her awe of the Phantom, Christine visits her father's grave, longing for his guidance ("Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"). The Phantom appears atop the mausoleum, again under the guise of the Angel of Music ("Wandering Child"). The weary 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 and causes flames to spring up around the mausoleum ("Bravo Monsieur").

With armed policemen having secured the auditorium and watching for the Phantom, Don Juan Triumphant premieres with Christine and Piangi singing the lead roles. During Don Juan's and Aminta's duet, Christine comes to the sudden realization that the Phantom has somehow replaced Piangi ("Don Juan Triumphant/The Point of No Return"). Mimicking Raoul's vow of devotion on the rooftop, the Phantom once again expresses his love for Christine and forces his ring onto her finger. Christine rips off his mask, showing his horrifically deformed face to the shocked audience. Exposed, the Phantom hurriedly drags Christine off the stage and back to his lair. Piangi's garroted 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").

Down in the lair, the Phantom has compelled Christine to don a wedding dress. In a moment of epiphany, she explains that she is not fearful of his physical appearance, but rather his inner nature. Raoul reaches the lair and attempts to persuade the Phantom to spare Christine and begs him for compassion. The Phantom retorts that the world had never shown him any and ensnares Raoul 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"). As the Phantom and Raoul both vie for Christine, she sadly asks the Phantom what life he has been forced to live. Finally, she tells the Phantom that he is not alone and kisses him, showing him compassion for the first time in his life.

Having experienced kindness at last, the Phantom realizes that he cannot win Christine by force and sets them both free. Raoul hurries Christine out of the lair, but she returns alone to give the Phantom back his ring. The Phantom once again pledges his love to her as she tearfully exits the lair to rejoin Raoul. As the angry search mob closes in, the devastated Phantom huddles on his throne beneath his cloak. Meg is first to reach the lair and finds no one there. She approaches the throne with curiosity and quickly pulls away the Phantom's cloak, but finds only his mask. She lifts the mask up into the light and gazes at it in wonder as the curtain falls ("Finale"). [5]

Original casts [ ]

The original casts of the major productions of The Phantom of the Opera : [6] [7]

† 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). [10]

‡ 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. [11] Later, Las Vegas casting became identical to that in the Broadway production, with single casting for all characters except Christine. [12]

Notable West End replacements [ ]

  • The Phantom: Martin Smith , Peter Karrie , Dave Willetts , John Owen-Jones , Ramin Karimloo , Peter Jöback , Simon Bowman , Earl Carpenter , Marcus Lovett , Peter Cousens , Peter Polycarpou , Ben Forster , Ben Lewis , Tim Howar , David Thaxton
  • Christine Daaé: Claire Moore , Rebecca Caine , Celia Graham , Myrra Malmberg , Gina Beck , Rachel Barrell , Sofia Escobar , Leila Benn Harris , Robyn North , Katie Hall , Anna O'Byrne , Meredith Braun , Celinde Schoenmaker
  • Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny: Michael Ball , John Barrowman , Simon Bowman , Simon Burke , Clive Carter , Killian Donnelly , Ramin Karimloo , Robert Meadmore , Oliver Thornton , Sean Palmer , Garðar Thór Cortes
  • Carlotta Giuducelli: Morag McLaren , Julia Goss , Margaret Preece , Shan Cothi
  • Monsieur Richard Firmin: Andy Hockley
  • Monsieur Gilles Andre: Martin Ball

Notable Broadway replacements [ ]

  • The Phantom: Timothy Nolen , Steve Barton , Mark Jacoby , Marcus Lovett , Davis Gaines , Thomas James O'Leary , Hugh Panaro , Howard McGillin , Gary Mauer , Brad Little , John Cudia , Peter Jöback , Norm Lewis , James Barbour , Amick Byram , Laird Mackintosh , Ben Crawford
  • Christine Daaé: Patti Cohenour , Rebecca Luker , Lisa Vroman , Rebecca Pitcher , Jennifer Hope Wills , Kimilee Bryant , Sierra Boggess , Samantha Hill , Mary Michael Patterson , Julia Udine , Ali Ewoldt , Meghan Picerno
  • Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny: Davis Gaines , Ciarán Sheehan , Gary Mauer , Hugh Panaro , Brad Little , John Cudia , Tim Martin Gleason , Jay Armstrong Johnson
  • Monsieur Gilles Andre: George Lee Andrews , Laird Mackintosh
  • Meg Giry: Tener Brown

Musical Numbers [ ]

  • "Prologue" - Auctioneer, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny
  • Overture – Orchestra

A film version of the musical was released in 2004 which was directed by the late Joel Schumacher.

  • Not only is this the longest running musical, it is the first play that comes to mind when people think about Broadway.
  • The show broke the record for the number of Tony Awards won.

References [ ]

  • ↑ Template:Cite news
  • ↑ Script error: No such module "citation/CS1".
  • ↑ POTO Onstage Template:Webarchive , phantom-media.info – accessed 10 May 2009
  • ↑ The Phantom of the Opera : opening night production credits. IBDB.com. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  • ↑ Westley, Christine: "Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular. TheatreMania.com. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  • ↑ Casting: PhantomLasVegas.com Retrieved 8 September 2011
  • 2 Hadestown
  • 3 Heathers the Musical

The Phantom of the Opera • New York


At an auction of opera memorabilia at the Paris Opera House, an old man, Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, bids for a strange musical box which seems to hold for him some special memory. The remnants of a chandelier are revealed and we are swept back to the time of Raoul’s youth, when the chandelier hung in splendour from the dome of the Opera House.

A new opera, Hannibal, is in rehearsal. Lefèvre, manager of the Opera House, arrives and explains to the company that he is retiring. He introduces the new managers, André and Firmin. André asks the prima donna, Carlotta, to sing, but a backdrop falls suddenly from the flies, almost killing her. There are murmurs among the company that it must have been the work of ‘the ghost’. Carlotta storms out, leaving the new production without a star. The new managers learn that there have been too many accidents. Madame Giry, the ballet mistress, hands the managers a note from ‘the opera ghost’ demanding a salary and a free box at the opera. Meg, Madame Giry’s daughter, suggests to André and Firmin that her friend and fellow dancer Christine Daaé could take Carlotta’s place. Christine has been taking singing lessons, but is unable (or unwilling) to say from whom. The managers grant her an audition.

Audition and performance merge and, from the managers’ box, the young Raoul, patron of the Opera House, voices his enthusiasm for the new star. After the Gala, Meg asks Christine about her mysterious teacher, but Christine can only tell Meg that he is the Angel of Music whom her late father had always promised would one day visit her. Christine’s performance is met with unanimous approval and Raoul goes backstage to congratulate her. The meeting becomes a reunion, both realising that they used to play together as children. As soon as Christine is alone, a figure appears behind the mirror. It is The Phantom, the teacher whom she has never seen – her Angel of Music. The Phantom draws Christine into the dark beyond the mirror and, when Raoul returns, the room is empty. Christine is led beneath the Opera House. They cross a lake and arrive at The Phantom’s subterranean lair. The Phantom explains that he is a composer and she has been his inspiration. He is teaching her so that she can sing his music. 

Christine falls into a trance, waking the following morning to the sound of the music box. Consumed with curiosity, Christine succeeds in uncovering The Phantom’s face. His anger dissolves into self-pity and Christine feels herself almost reciprocating his affection. The Phantom agrees to return her to the outside world. Backstage at the Opera, Buquet, the flyman, catches sight of the two re-emerging from below. Madame Giry cautions him to hold his tongue.

Meanwhile the Opera has been thrown into confusion by Christine’s disappearance. Everyone has received notes from The Phantom. The Phantom demands that Carlotta be replaced by Christine as leading lady in a forthcoming revival of the opera Il Muto. News arrives of Christine’s return, but the managers assure Carlotta that no heed will be paid to The Phantom’s demands. 

The Phantom’s voice is heard threatening ‘a disaster beyond imagination’. Il Muto is performed with Christine cast in a silent role. The Phantom’s voice reiterates his demands and, when these are ignored, he causes Carlotta to emit the croak of a frog instead of singing. As the indisposed prima donna is led away, André replaces her with Christine. But The Phantom is still much in evidence as the body of Buquet drops from the flies with a rope around his neck.

In the ensuing pandemonium Christine flees with Raoul to the safety of the roof of the Opera House. They agree to leave together that night. The Phantom emerges from his hiding place, where he has heard everything, and vows vengeance. As Christine and the cast take their bows, the chandelier crashes down from the ceiling.


At a masked ball, all celebrate the New Year and the disappearance of The Phantom. Raoul and Christine have secretly become engaged. At the height of the festivities a strange figure descends the staircase. The Phantom has returned. He flings to André the score of his new opera, Don Juan Triumphant, commanding that it be performed. Backstage, Raoul interrogates Madame Giry about the identity of The Phantom. He is an escaped fairground freak – a physical monstrosity with a brilliant mind. Presumed dead, he in fact lives still, somewhere in the Opera House.

Raoul hits upon a scheme to ensnare The Phantom using his own opera as bait. If Christine agrees to sing the principal role, The Phantom is sure to attend. With the doors locked and guarded he will be unable to escape. Christine unhappily agrees to co-operate. The singers have immense difficulty learning the dissonant score, but their task is mysteriously facilitated when the piano magically takes over and the singers, mesmerised, begin to perform flawlessly. 

Christine visits her father’s grave. She knows that if she can free herself from his memory she will no longer be in thrall to The Phantom. The Phantom appears to her in the graveyard. His hypnotic influence, however, is broken when Raoul arrives on the scene. Enraged, The Phantom declares war on them both.

In the final scene of the opera, Christine becomes aware that The Phantom has taken the place of Piangi in the role of Don Juan. As her duet finishes, she tears the mask from his face. Surrounded by police, The Phantom is nevertheless able to escape, dragging Christine with him. The garrotted body of Piangi is revealed.

Madame Giry agrees to lead Raoul to The Phantom’s lair. An angry mob follows. In the underground lair, Christine confronts The Phantom: his true disfigurement lies not in his face but in his soul. Raoul appears and The Phantom traps him. The Phantom offers Christine a bizarre choice: she must either stay with him forever or see Raoul killed. The mob drawing ever closer, The Phantom relents and orders them both to go. The mob descends towards the lair, but all that remains of The Phantom is a white mask.

The Phantom of the Opera

Why Do Audiences Love This Show?

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  • M.A. in Literature, California State University – Northridge
  • B.A. in Creative Writing, California State University – Northridge

The Phantom of the Opera is a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Based on Gaston Leroux’s gothic novel, Phantom holds the record as the longest-running musical on Broadway. For over twenty years, Webber’s masked musical has wowed audiences with its over 9000 performances on the West End, not to mention the countless touring companies that have spread Phantom-mania throughout the world.

So, What Makes Phantom So Popular?

The Phantom of the Opera combines high-tech stagecraft with good old fashioned melodrama. Consider some of the elements featured in this musical:

  • A sweeping musical score.
  • Powerful, operatic voices.
  • Sharp, direction by Harold Prince.
  • A sprinkling of ballet choreographed by Gillian Lynne.
  • Elaborate costumes and dozens of quick changes.
  • And when all else fails to entertain: Throw in a falling chandelier.

Why Do Some People Hate Phantom ?

Anytime something is immensely successful, a critical backlash is to be expected. In my observations, many who are serious about musicals despise much of Webber’s work, opting instead, for instance, for the more complex compositions of Stephen Sondheim. Some might argue that The Phantom of the Opera is filled with gimmicky effects, flat characters, and sub-par trilling.

As warranted as these criticisms might be, there is a component to this show that remains the secret of its phenomenal success. The show has been a hit for over two decades because the character of the Phantom is a mesmerizing anti-hero.

The Bad Boy Image

Step one in winning the hearts of the female audience: create a mysterious character with a dark side. Step two: Make certain that underneath that dangerous exterior lurks a loving heart, ready to bloom when the right woman happens along. A character that is seemingly cold, callous, and even cruel delights the hearts of romance addicts. Just look at some of these supposed jerks who turned into dreamboats:

  • The Beast from Beauty and the Beast
  • Edward Cullen from Twilight
  • Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice

The Phantom’s character possesses these traits – but there are some key differences. For one, the Phantom murders two innocent people. He crosses a moral boundary, making us wonder – should we despise him or pity him? Also, most romantic leads are stereotypically attractive. Even the protagonist from Beauty and the Beast was secretly a handsome prince. Not so, with the Phantom. He appears attractive until the mask is wiped away, revealing his hideous deformation.

Musical Genius and Renaissance Man

To contrast his violent nature, the Phantom is a masterful composer of brooding ballads which have the power to transfix the young singer, Christine Daae. More than just a musician, the Phantom is also almost like a Parisian Batman. He’s got a cool lair, which he constructed himself. He has created a plethora of inventions (some of them deadly). Also, he is a shrewd businessman (or extortionist) because he constantly sends payment notices to the opera managers. We can only assume he also designs his own costumes. All of this talent almost makes the viewer want to ignore his murderous crimes.

Sensitive Soul or Sinister Stalker?

Yes, The Phantom of the Opera has been called the most “haunting romance” of all time. But think of it: would you really want someone becoming obsessed over you the way the Phantom becomes obsessed with Christine? Maybe not. Today we call that stalking. However, because deep down the Phantom has a sensitive soul, audiences ultimately become sympathetic to him, despite his villainous behavior.

Through exposition, we learn that the Phantom was imprisoned in a carnival freak show. We also learn that his own mother despised him. He sings about his appearance: “This face which earned a mother’s fear and loathing.” These details put the audience in a forgiving mood.

In the final scene, the Phantom attempts a devious plan. He threatens to kill Christine’s handsome boyfriend, Raoul unless she decides to live with the Phantom. However, his plan backfires. Christine sings, “Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known. God give me courage to show you, you are not alone.” Then, she bestows upon the Phantom a long, passionate kiss.

After the smooch, the Phantom is overwhelmed by the experience of physical affection. He feels an unselfish love for Christine and he releases the young lovebirds. His transformation differs from other stories which hinge upon true love’s kiss. In this case, the Beast archetype doesn’t turn into a handsome prince. However, he does undergo a moral awakening. And it is that moment, the Phantom's reaction to the kiss, that makes The Phantom of the Opera a classic.

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The longest-running show in Broadway history, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera debuted in 1988, winning seven Tony Awards® including Best Musical. Based on Gaston Leroux’s horror novel, it tells the enticing story of the Phantom, who haunts the stage of the Paris Opera and subsequently falls in love with a beautiful young soprano. Audiences are in for a thrilling night of spectacle and romance, accompanied by Broadway’s most unforgettable score.

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‘Phantom of the Opera,’ Broadway’s Longest-Running Show, to Close

The theatergoing audience has been slow to return after the pandemic lockdown, and the show hasn’t been selling well enough to defray its running costs.

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By Michael Paulson

“The Phantom of the Opera,” the longest-running show in Broadway history and, for many, a symbol of musical theater, will drop its famous chandelier for the last time in February, becoming the latest show to fall victim to the drop-off in audiences since the pandemic hit.

The closing is at once long-expected — no show runs forever, and this one’s grosses have been softening — but also startling, because “Phantom” had come to seem like a permanent part of the Broadway landscape, a period piece and a tourist magnet that stood apart from the vicissitudes of the commercial theater marketplace.

But in the year since Broadway returned from its damaging pandemic lockdown, the theatergoing audience has not fully rebounded, and “Phantom,” which came back strong last fall , has not been selling well enough to defray its high weekly running costs.

The show will commemorate its 35th anniversary in January, and then will play its final performance on Broadway on Feb. 18, according to a spokesman. The cast, crew and orchestra were informed of the decision on Friday.

The show will continue to run elsewhere: The London production, which is even older than the one in New York, closed in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, but then returned, with a smaller orchestra and other cost-lowering reconfigurations, a year later. A new production opened last month in Australia , and the first Mandarin-language production is scheduled to open in China next year. Also: Antonio Banderas is working on a new Spanish-language production.

“Phantom” is an icon of 1980s Broadway, created by three of the most legendary figures in musical theater history: the composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, the director Hal Prince and the producer Cameron Mackintosh. All were long devoted to the show — in 2018, when it turned 30, they celebrated with a light show projected onto the Empire State Building in sync with parts of the score; last year, when the show resumed performances after the lockdown, Webber D.J.’d a block party outside the theater. (Yes, there was a remix of the “Phantom” theme.)

The show, about a mask-wearing opera lover who haunts the Paris Opera House and becomes obsessed with a young soprano, is famous for that chandelier, which crashes onto the stage each night, and is characterized by over-the-top spectacle and melodrama.

When the Broadway production opened on Jan. 26, 1988, the New York Times critic Frank Rich criticized many elements of the show, but began his review by acknowledging, “It may be possible to have a terrible time at ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ but you’ll have to work at it.”

By 2014, when Times critic Charles Isherwood revisited, the show had won over many of its skeptics. “Soon after the orchestra struck up those thundering, ominous organ chords, I found my expectations upended, my jaded armor melting away,” Isherwood wrote . “With the distance of more than a decade — and a couple hundred new musicals — since my last visit, I found myself with a new appreciation for this beloved show’s gothic theatricality.”

Over the years “Phantom” has become a fixture that has drawn enormous audiences around the world. Since the first production opened in London in 1986, the show has been seen by more than 145 million people in 183 cities around the world; it has been performed in 17 languages, and next year that number is expected to rise to 18, when the Mandarin production opens.

On Broadway, the show has been seen by 19.8 million people, and has grossed $1.3 billion, since opening, according to figures compiled by the Broadway League. It grossed $867,997 during the week ending Sept. 11, which is decent but not good enough to sustain a run of a musical of this scale (with a large cast and large orchestra and elaborate set, all of which drive up running costs).

The production’s intention to close the show was reported on Friday by The New York Post .

Michael Paulson is the theater reporter. He previously covered religion, and was part of the Boston Globe team whose coverage of clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. More about Michael Paulson

The Phantom of the Opera: 10 things you didn't know about the hit Broadway musical

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The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most successful musicals ever staged, and Broadway Across Canada is bringing Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tony Award-winning blockbuster to major cities across the country throughout 2017.

Based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera is a gothic thriller and a twisted love story, but it also has a sweeping, romantic score and epic songs ("The Music of the Night", "All I Ask of You") that highlight the grandeur and mystery at the heart of the narrative.

The new touring production is one of the largest in North America, with a cast and orchestra of 52. Vancouver's own Eva Tavares plays the lead role of Christine, the ingenue who goes from chorus girl to soloist when she becomes the deadly obsession and inspiration for the Phantom, a disfigured musical genius who resides in the maze of tunnels deep beneath the Paris Opera House.

Given its record-breaking Broadway run, and countless other touring productions, what could there possibly be to rediscover about Phantom in 2017? Well, turns out, there's a lot.

Here are 10 things you probably didn't know about Webber's gothic musical extravaganza, as well as a couple of bonus bits of information about the Broadway classic that's coming to a city near you.

1. Webber actually wrote The Phantom of the Opera , in part, as a vehicle for his then-wife, Sarah Brightman

In a 2016 interview with the Washington Post , theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh, who helmed this new, revamped touring production of The Phantom of the Opera described Brightman, the original Christine in London's West End in 1986 and on Broadway in 1988, as a "phenomenal muse."

2. The Phantom's make-up and mask were an incredible ordeal — but very effective

Acclaimed musical theatre actor Michael Crawford originated the role of the Phantom in the West End and on Broadway. In order to play the character for the standard eight shows a week, he endured two hours in the make-up chair every day for application. At the end of the day, it was back to the chair, where it took two make-up artists another 20 minutes to loosen the three layers of foam latex from his face.

The make-up was created by Christopher Tucker , who had also created the make-up for the Elephant Man.

On days when Crawford had performed a matinee and an evening show, he opted to just eat liquid meals because of the mask.

To get an idea of just how huge Phantom was in London and in New York, consider this: according to a People magazine interview, Crawford had to shred the mask personally every night or it would be stolen from the garbage by rabid fans. The scarred flesh make-up he wore for the role was a pain to apply, but it was, apparently, gruesomely real.

From People magazine, 1988:

"Put your mask back on," shuddered Britain's Queen Mother when she viewed actor Michael Crawford backstage in his ghoulish guise in The Phantom of the Opera during the show's London run. "It's horrid," gasped Princess Diana, who nevertheless has seen the show three times.

3. Theatre critics praised the show and lost their minds over that famous prop

New York theatre critic Patricia Morrisroe wrote , "The chandelier is dazzling and so is Phantom of the Opera ."

The new chandelier for the touring production comes with its own fact sheet: it weighs 1,500 pounds and features more than 6,000 crystals and 50 pyro elements. Spoiler alert: it drops at 10 feet per second. It's based on the actual Paris Opera House chandelier, but it's not an exact replica.

4. Phantom was such a huge hit at the box office when it debuted, it caused 1 theatre to change its curtain time

With record-breaking advance ticket sales for the Broadway opening, the person behind 42nd Street pushed his opening curtain to 8:15 p.m. rather than 8 p.m., so if people got shut out of Phantom , which they would, they could buy last-minute seats to his show.

5. Early Phantom rehearsals in London included animatronics

According to Broadway.com , Phantom originally featured animatronic rats, a white horse and real doves flying through the theatre, but "these ideas were scrapped before previews began."

6. Even Beyoncé is 1 degree of separation from Phantom

Webber composed an extra 15 minutes of music for the 2004 film adaptation, which included the new song, "Learn to be Lonely", sung by one of the film's stars, Minnie Driver. The song was nominated for an Academy Award, and Beyoncé filled in for Driver at the 2005 Oscars, with Webber himself on piano.

7. Phantom has acquired a lot of stamps in its passport over the years

Worldwide, there have been more than 65,000 performances in 35 countries and 160 cities in 15 languages.

8. One uber fan changed her name in honour of The Phantom of the Opera

From the Independent ,1996: "Take for example Miss Christine Daae herself. Not the fictional diva who inflames the Phantom to murder for her love in the swirling Gothic romance, but the 22-year-old PA from Bishop's Stortford in Hertfordshire who changed her name from Victoria Bohm by deed poll. Miss Daae of Bishop's Stortford has seen the show 41 times, once travelling to Canada to do so, and has spent around pounds 6,000 [sic] on tickets and merchandise. The show, she said yesterday, 'totally took my breath away. I felt completely carried away to another world, caught up in the hypnotic power he has over Christine.'"

9. Webber's Phantom of the Opera wasn't actually the first stage musical version of Phantom

Ken Hill wrote the first stage musical version of The Phantom of the Opera in 1976. Webber saw it when Hill revived the show in 1984, and was so inspired, he asked Hill to collaborate with him on a lavish, grand-scale version in London's West End. The two had worked together previously on a revival of Webber's own Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat .

Ultimately, Webber went ahead and did his own version of Phantom with lyricist Charles Hart and it became one of the biggest blockbuster musicals of all time.

Both ended up running in London at the same time in 1991, prompting lots of media attention, like the archival clip below, about duelling Phantoms.

10. Phantom of the Opera is a blockbuster and record-breaker

It made the Guinness World Records book in 2012.

And it's made some major bucks. In the summer of 2014, Phantom became the first stage production to reach worldwide grosses of $6 billion.

Bonus fact: Phantom is getting the Muppets treatment, in book form, later this year !

Broadway Across Canada's The Phantom of the Opera 2017 tour information:

Edmonton: July 26-Aug. 6 Calgary: Aug. 9-20 Winnipeg: Aug. 23-Sept. 3 Montreal: Oct. 4-15 Ottawa: Oct. 18-29

This is paid content produced by or on behalf of The Phantom of the Opera .

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  • 2 The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
  • 3 Raoul de Chagny

Meet Emilie Kouatchou, Broadway’s 1st Black Christine in ‘Phantom of the Opera’

Emilie Kouatchou and Ben Crawford star as Christine and the Phantom in "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway.

Broadway’s groundbreaking musical “Phantom of the Opera” has once again made history.

The musical is the longest-running show on Broadway, celebrating 34 years last month. It marked the milestone by debuting its first Black Christine on Broadway, played by Emilie Kouatchou.

In celebration of Black history , Kouatchou sat down with TODAY to discuss disrupting an industry set in its ways and the significance of Black representation on Broadway, especially in predominately white musicals and plays.

Becoming Christine

Kouatchou still remembers the first time she hit the stage playing Christine as an understudy in October 2021. She felt pressure to live up to the role, yet also taken care of at the same time.

“I remember feeling a lot of support from the audience. They cheered when I first came on stage,” the 25-year-old actor told TODAY via Zoom. “I remember feeling like, ‘OK, no matter what happens, the people out there have me and the people backstage have me and are supporting me.’ I remember it being a whirlwind and being extremely tired by the end, ready to drop. But yeah, it was a wonderful night.”

Based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel, “Phantom of the Opera” tells the story of a love triangle that blossoms after two businessmen take ownership of a haunted opera house. The Phantom, a mysterious character who inhabits the rafters, sabotages the ongoing opera to get what he wants from the new owners. Christine — a young soprano — starts the musical with a small role in the show within the show, but becomes the Phantom’s love interest and he uses his influence to get her the lead role by any means possible.

Christine is a beloved character in the iconic musical, known for her sweeping ballads “Think of Me,” “All I Ask of You” and “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.” No longer an understudy, Kouatchou stepped into the role full-time for the show’s anniversary on Jan 26, 2022. She said it can be difficult to assume a historic role people are familiar with, while still making it feel like it’s hers.

“It was a big conversation when I was rehearsing first with our production supervisors. He was really adamant about making sure that Christine felt like me, and that I didn’t have to put on any sort of airs that I thought an ingenue character had to be or a Christine had to be,” she said. “This Christine feels very much close to me, and I relate a lot to her. I try and bring myself to her as much as I can even in just the inflection of my voice, something as simple as that. The temptation might be to inflect up ... (but) it’s OK for her to have a more grounded lower voice if that’s true to me.

“So things like that; just remembering that although I do have to stay in the confines of the time period and in dialect, I can be as expressive as myself, Emilie.”

‘Phantom’ secrets

Known for its stellar music and stage production, “Phantom of the Opera” has won seven Tony Awards — including best musical — and was made into a major motion picture starring Emmy Rossum as Christine in 2004. Year after year, it remains a staple in the musical theatre canon, and Kouatchou attributes the musical’s success to composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

“It really took me being in the show and learning the music and seeing other people do all these other songs to realize how genius it is,” she said. “Webber does an amazing job of creating these specific characters, who, as an actor, you can also just embody them differently. Every ‘Phantom’ is different, every Christine is different. You’re not going to get the same cookie-cutter character and I think that’s the exciting part of ‘Phantom,’ too. They cycle in new leads and audiences get to see a new take on this classic show. That’s one of the reasons why it’s stood the test of time.”

The singing in the musical reaches some of the highest octaves. The high notes — particularly in the title song — can be hard to sustain throughout the two and a half hour long show. This combination has long left audiences wondering if any of the singing is prerecorded.

“Oh, gosh. You’re trying to get me to spill some ‘Phantom’ secrets,” she coyly responded. “I mean, it is me singing. I will say  that. “

Emilie Kouatchou (left) and Ben Crawford (right) performing the title song in "Phantom of the Opera" on Broadway.

‘Feeling the weight’

Kouatchou — a Chicago native and University of Michigan graduate — unsuccessfully auditioned for the musical twice before landing a role as the understudy. But she’s at peace with how things unfolded.

“There’s probably a number of reasons that I’m not privy to and some things just are not meant to be at that time and that’s OK,” shew said. “I’m learning to take things as they come and realize that my journey is going to happen when it needs to happen. Honestly, this was the perfect time for something like this to happen, even though it had been quite a long time. There have been so many different Black women that  could  have played Christine. We’re in a period of intense change in this industry, and I’m just happy that I could be a part of that change.”

The entertainment industry at large has struggled with diversity and representation, especially Broadway.  A 2019 report  by the Actor’s Equity Association found that just 8% of Broadway’s nearly 52,000 actors and stage managers are Black. But Black representation on Broadway has recently increased. In October 2021, seven plays by Black playwrights with predominately Black casts debuted.

Kouatchou said just thinking of all the trailblazing Black women that were overlooked for the role but who nonetheless made it possible for her to play Christine makes her emotional. She said what trailblazers have sacrificed for her makes her want to pay it forward by always doing her best.

“I think about it every day. Even when I did my first show as the full time Christine (Jan. 26), I remember doing ‘Think of Me.’ I was really trying to center myself because I was feeling so emotional because I was thinking about all the women who have come before me who made it possible for me to be in this spot. People I look up to in the industry. Just feeling the weight, but also like I was covered by something bigger than myself.”

Keeping this in mind grounds Kouatchou and informs her purpose-driven life and career.

“That’s how I’m trying to approach this role. No matter what’s going on during my day — if I had a bad day or if I feel like I’m not doing my best on stage or whatever — I just know that me being on stage is bigger than what is necessarily going on with me,” she said.

“I want to take care of myself, but it’s so important that audiences see someone who looks like me playing Christine.”

This story originally appeared on Today.com.

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Randi Richardson reports for TODAY Digital and NBC BLK from New York.


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  7. The Phantom of the Opera (musical)

    Story The story is about a deformed musical genius who lives in a sewer beneath the opera house in Paris. Obsessed with a young soprano by the name of Christine, he terrorizes everyone at the opera in an effort to make her a star. Awards

  8. All the Times Phantom of the Opera Made History on Broadway

    January 26, 2023. The Phantom of the Opera's 35th anniversary Playbill cover. Thirty-five years ago, a new musical took the Broadway stage on the heels of its smash-hit success on the West End ...

  9. Discover the real history behind 'The Phantom of the Opera'

    The chandelier crash in Phantom was inspired by a true event. The Act 1 finale, during which a one-ton chandelier comes crashing down onto the stage, is one of the most iconic moments in The Phantom of the Opera musical. It's thrilling to watch live, and it was inspired by a real tragedy at the Palais Garnier.

  10. The Phantom of the Opera

    The Phantom of the Opera is a 1986 musical written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It is the longest running-Broadway musical ever as it has been running for over 35 years. The show was closed in April 2023 due to the lack of ticket sales, Andrew Lloyd Webber has stated that even though the show has closed, The Phantom will be back on Broadway very soon. In 1911 Paris, the Paris Opéra hosts an ...

  11. About The Phantom of the Opera • The Phantom of the Opera

    The Phantom draws Christine into the dark beyond the mirror and, when Raoul returns, the room is empty. Christine is led beneath the Opera House. They cross a lake and arrive at The Phantom's subterranean lair. The Phantom explains that he is a composer and she has been his inspiration. He is teaching her so that she can sing his music.

  12. Overview of the Musical "The Phantom of the Opera"

    The Phantom of the Opera is a musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe. Based on Gaston Leroux's gothic novel, Phantom holds the record as the longest-running musical on Broadway. For over twenty years, Webber's masked musical has wowed audiences with its over 9000 performances on the West End, not to mention the countless touring companies ...

  13. Andrew Lloyd Webber Brings the Music of the Night Back to 'Phantom

    21. By Joshua Barone. Oct. 22, 2021. "The Phantom of the Opera," the longest-running show in Broadway history, resumes performances Friday. Mark Sommerfeld for The New York Times. Andrew Lloyd ...

  14. The Phantom of the Opera

    The longest-running show in Broadway history, Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera debuted in 1988, winning seven Tony Awards® including Best Musical. Based on Gaston Leroux's ...

  15. 'Phantom of the Opera,' Broadway's Longest-Running Show, to Close

    By Michael Paulson. Sept. 16, 2022. "The Phantom of the Opera," the longest-running show in Broadway history and, for many, a symbol of musical theater, will drop its famous chandelier for the ...

  16. The Phantom of the Opera: 10 things you didn't know about the hit

    The Phantom of the Opera is one of the most successful musicals ever staged, and Broadway Across Canada is bringing Andrew Lloyd Webber's Tony Award-winning blockbuster to major cities across the ...

  17. Phantom of the Opera

    The Phantom of the Opera Wiki was established on September 13, 2006. Categories Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.

  18. Meet Emilie Kouatchou, Broadway's 1st Black Christine in 'Phantom of

    Feb. 19, 2022, 3:01 AM PST. By Randi Richardson. Broadway's groundbreaking musical "Phantom of the Opera" has once again made history. The musical is the longest-running show on Broadway ...

  19. James Barbour (singer)

    James Barbour (born April 25, 1966) [1] is an American singer and theatre actor who played the title role in the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera from February 2015 until December 2017.

  20. The Phantom of the Opera (novel)

    Plot summary In the 1880s, in Paris, the Palais Garnier Opera House is believed to be haunted by an entity known as the 'Phantom of the Opera', or simply the 'Opera Ghost', after stagehand Joseph Buquet is found hanged, the noose around his neck missing.

  21. The Phantom of the Opera (2004 film)

    The Phantom of the Opera is a 2004 musical romantic drama film based on Andrew Lloyd Webber 's 1986 musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the 1910 French novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux.