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Sierra Boggess reflects on the staying power of 'The Phantom of the Opera'

Boggess previously played the role of Christine Daaé in the storied Broadway production, which has set its closing date.

Gillian Russo
Gillian Russo

"It's hard to think of living in a world where Phantom isn't playing at the Majestic Theatre."

So said Broadway actress Sierra Boggess soon after The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running show in Broadway history, announced its closing after 35 years. Her sentiment isn't unique.

The closing news immediately multiplied ticket demand from die-hard "phans" and casual theatregoers alike — those who assumed Phantom would always be around and now have a deadline to check it off their bucket lists. Luckily, the increase in sales allowed Phantom to extend, pushing back its closing date to April 16 from the originally announced February 18.

The lead role of Christine Daaé, an opera ingenue whose romance with her childhood sweetheart is threatened by the obsessive Phantom, remains one of her best-known roles globally. She first played Christine in Las Vegas in 2006, then twice in London: in the musical's 25th anniversary concert at Royal Albert Hall and in the world premiere of Love Never Dies, a Phantom of the Opera sequel musical. She finally starred in the Broadway production twice, in 2013 and 2014.

It's been eight years since Boggess's last performance as Christine, but and her love — and memory — for the show has never died. If called on to reprise the role tonight, Boggess would be ready: "For some reason that I don't know why, Christine comes so naturally to me. There is something about that character — I don't know if it's a past life, or what it is. But I really seem to understand and empathize with her story and her journey. I just get the love relationships with both of those men. I can tap into her quite easily."

"There's little bits of Phantom that go out of your mind, but they could call on me and at any time and I could easily slot in there," she continued. "But that’s also not specific to me. People come in all the time because it's a show where once you know it, you really know it."

That, too, can be said of The Phantom of the Opera's audiences. It's impossible to exit the theatre without Andrew Lloyd Webber's rich music, Gillian Lynne's iconic choreography, and Maria Bjornson's dazzling designs on your mind, and the show's most loyal phans return time after time to experience it. And even those who haven't seen the show have at least heard of its most famous moments, like the "Music of the Night" or "Masquerade" songs, the boat ride through an underground lake during the title song, and the infamous chandelier crash that ends Act 1.

For all these reasons and more, "it's going to be weird seeing another marquee at the Majestic that's not Phantom," Boggess said. "It's devastating... but I suppose everything has to come to an end. We just assume it's always going to be there. But of course it's a living and breathing thing and nothing can last forever."

Though The Phantom of the Opera has reached the point of no return on Broadway, the musical continues to run in London's West End (in fact, it reopened there in a revised version shortly after its own closing) and around the world, and the timeless Gothic romance is also immortalized in The Phantom of the Opera films and the original 1910 novel that started it all.

For performers like Boggess and millions of people that have seen its performances (nearly 14,000 on Broadway alone), the music of the night will never truly fade out.

Get The Phantom of the Opera tickets now.

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Sophie Thomas contributed reporting to this story.

Photo credit: Sierra Boggess in The Phantom of the Opera. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

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