Everything you need to know about 'The Phantom of the Opera' on Broadway
Here's your ultimate guide to The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running show on Broadway.
He's here, the phantom of the opera...and he's been haunting Broadway since 1988. The Phantom of the Opera, by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart, and Richard Stilgoe, is the longest-running Broadway show of all time. This musical has appealed to theatregoers for over three decades, but after a record-breaking run that will go down in history, the music of the night will soon play for the last time when the show closes in February 2023.
The Phantom of the Opera is part romance, part Gothic melodrama, and part spectacle. It is about a composing genius, the Phantom, who hides from the world in an opera house. He is obsessed with an ingenue opera singer named Christine, who is both drawn to and frightened of him.
The plot seems simple, but where Phantom stands out is the music and the visuals. With songs such as the haunting and bombastic title song, "The Phantom of the Opera," as well as the ballads "Music of the Night," "Think of Me," and "All I Ask of You," Lloyd Webber's music is sweeping, big, and romantic — just like the show.
And the special effects are awe-inspiring — from the now-iconic image of the Phantom and Christine on a boat in a sea of fog, to the one-ton chandelier that flies up and over the audience's heads, to stage fire — Phantom is not just an emotional journey; it's also a feast for the eyes.
Find out more about The Phantom of the Opera below, with characters, running time, songs, and behind-the-scenes history of how the show was made. Then, get tickets to see this living piece of Broadway history before the show becomes a phantom of Broadway's past.
Get The Phantom of the Opera tickets now.
What is The Phantom of the Opera about?
The Phantom of the Opera is based on the 1910 French novel by Gaston Leroux of the same name. It features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, and a book by Stilgoe and Webber. It is about an ingenue opera singer named Christine, who works at the Paris Opera House. She is haunted by a figure that she calls the Angel of Music.
This angel is actually a real man, who wears a white mask and who calls himself the Phantom of the Opera. He is also a music genius, haunting the opera house and terrorizing the people who work there. The Phantom is also in love with Christine and her voice, and he is determined to make her a star so that the world can finally hear his music (of the night).
When Christine's childhood sweetheart Raoul comes back into her life, the Phantom becomes jealous and more terrible things start happening in the opera house. And yet, Christine continues to be drawn to the Phantom. Who should Christine choose? Raoul or the Phantom? That's a question that has haunted Phantom fans (or rather, phans) for over 30 years.
Part mystery, part romance, The Phantom of the Opera is considered the best of the '80s megamusicals, where the budget, the story, and the music were big and bombastic. Considering that The Phantom of the Opera includes a giant chandelier which flies over the audience's heads and crashes onto the stage, this Broadway titan more than fits the bill when it comes to "mega."
Where is The Phantom of the Opera playing?
The Phantom of the Opera opened in 1988 at the Majestic Theatre and has been playing there ever since. The Majestic is located at 247 West 44th Street, between Seventh Avenue and Eighth Avenue. The Majestic opened in 1927. It was a favorite theatre of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, who premiered four of their musicals there, among them Carousel and South Pacific.
How long is The Phantom of the Opera?
The Phantom of the Opera runs at 2 hours and 15 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission. This is a standard running time for a Broadway musical. It's recommended that you eat before the show.
What days is The Phantom of the Opera playing?
The Phantom of the Opera plays seven performances a week at the Majestic Theatre. The show typically runs Monday to Sunday, with two performances on Thursdays and Saturdays. Phantom does not perform on Tuesdays. For the complete weekly performance schedule and up-to-date show times, please visit the Phantom of the Opera page to learn more.
When did The Phantom of the Opera premiere?
The Phantom of the Opera was actually inspired by a 1910 same-named horror novel and a real-life romance between a genius composer and an ingenue: Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the role of Christine for his wife at the time, Sarah Brightman, who was a rising star. Here's the history of the Phantom of the Opera musical.
- 1984: Webber marries Brightman. He then contacts his producing partner at Really Useful Group, Cameron Mackintosh, who produced Webber's hit musical Cats, about a romantic musical based on French author Gaston Leroux's book, The Phantom of the Opera. Brightman would play Christine. Webber then asked Jim Steinman to write the lyrics to Phantom (Steinman had helped Meat Loaf write the songs for his Bat Out of Hell album). Steinman declined. Richard Stilgoe then agreed to write lyrics for the musical. Charles Hart was brought on in 1985 later to rewrite some of Stilgoe's lyrics. Webber also brought in Harold Prince to direct.
- 1986: The Phantom of the Opera opens on the West End at Her Majesty's Theatre. The show was a hit. A cast album was soon released in 1987 and also topped the charts, going platinum four times in the U.S. Phantom is still running on the West End and is the third-longest-running show there.
- 1988: Phantom opens on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre. Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, and Steve Barton reprised their roles as the Phantom, Christine, and Raoul from the West End.
- 1989: The first U.S. tour of Phantom begins. It would become the longest-running continuous tour in U.S. history, running until 2010. The first international production of Phantom also begins, in Canada at the Pantages Theatre in Toronto.
- 1990: The first Australian production of Phantom begins at the Princess Theatre. Phantom would run in Australia until 1998.
- 1993: The first U.K. tour of Phantom begins. It runs until 1996.
- 2006: Phantom opens a sit-down production in Las Vegas, called Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular, at the Venetian. This production of the musical is shortened to 90 minutes. It runs until 2012.
- 2012: A new production of Phantom, the first to not be a replica of the Harold Prince production, begins a UK and Ireland tour. This was to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Phantom.
- 2019: The Phantom of the Opera embarks on a world tour, beginning in Manila.
- 2021: Following the Covid-19 pandemic, Phantom reopens on the West End, but with some retooling to the show that is different from the original production that had played there since 1987. The number of musicians is decreased, some parts are restaged and choreographed, and parts of the set are redesigned. Phantom also reopens on Broadway.
- Other productions: Phantom has played to over 140 million people in 35 countries. Phantom has been performed in 15 languages, showing that the music of the night is truly universal.
Who wrote The Phantom of the Opera?
The Phantom of the Opera is based on the 1910 French novel by Gaston Leroux of the same name. It features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, and a book by Stilgoe and Webber.
Webber, who has been knighted by the Queen of England as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, is the winner of six Tony Awards and seven Olivier Awards. He is also one of 16 people who have won an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a Tony. He runs the theatre company Really Useful Group, one of the biggest theatre producers in England. As a musical theatre composer, Webber has also written Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Sunset Boulevard, and Evita.
Richard Stilgoe has collaborated with Webber on three musicals: Phantom, Cats, and Starlight Express. He founded the Alchemy Foundation, from his royalties from the American productions of Starlight Express and The Phantom of the Opera. The Alchemy Foundation donates money to charitable causes. Stilgoe has been knighted by the Queen for his charity work.
Charles Hart was still a student when he met Webber, and he was soon brought on to help write lyrics for Phantom. Hart also collaborated with Webber on Aspects of Love. His other musicals include Bend It Like Beckham, based on the film, and The Dreaming, based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
The Phantom of the Opera characters
It takes 130 cast, crew, and orchestra members to put each performance of The Phantom of the Opera together. Below are the major characters in the show and some of the notable musical theatre performers who have played them.
- The Phantom: The composer who haunts the Paris Opera House. He lives in a subterranean lair under the opera house. He resents the world for rejecting him because of his disfigured face, and he is obsessed with Christine. Michael Crawford originated the role of the Phantom, but the other actors who have played that role include Colm Wilkinson, Ramin Karimloo, Hugh Panaro, and Norm Lewis.
- Christine DaaÃ©: A chorus girl who wants to become a prima donna. Christine is drawn to the Phantom for his music but is also afraid of him. She is in love with Raoul. Sarah Brightman originated the role of Christine, and the role has also been played by actresses including Sierra Boggess and Rebecca Luker.
- Raoul: Christine's childhood sweetheart who reunites with her at the Opera House when he becomes a patron. He is in love with Christine and wants to rid the Opera House of the Phantom. Steve Barton originated the role of Raoul. Hugh Panaro, Ramin Karimloo, and John Barrowman have also played the role.
- Carlotta Guidicelli: The prima donna of the Opera House. She is angered at the incidents that keep occuring because of the Phantom but refuses to cede the limelight to Christine.
- Gilles AndrÃ©: One of the new owners of the Opera House. He is trying to keep Carlotta happy and things running, despite the Phantom causing mayhem.
- Richard Firmin: One of the new owners of the Opera House. He is trying to keep things running smoothly, despite the Phantom.
- Madame Giry: The ballet mistress at the Opera House. She is a strict and foreboding presence, and the one who delivers messages between the Opera House owners and the Phantom.
- Meg Giry: Meg is Madame Giry's daughter. She is Christine's friend and a ballerina and chorus girl.
The Phantom of the Opera songs
The Phantom of the Opera is a sung-through musical, with very little dialogue. Some of the most famous songs include "The Music of the Night," "All I Ask of You," "Masquerade," "The Point of No Return," and the title track, of course! Here are all the songs in the show.
- "Hannibal Rehearsal" - Carlotta, Piangi, Reyer, Lefevre, AndrÃ©, Firmin, Madame Giry, Meg, Buquet, Ensemble
- "Think of Me" - Christine, Raoul
- "Angel of Music" - The Phantom, Meg, Christine
- "Little Lotte" - Raoul, Christine
- "The Mirror/Angel of Music (Reprise)" - The Phantom, Christine, Raoul
- "The Phantom of the Opera"- Christine, The Phantom
- "The Music of the Night" - The Phantom
- "I Remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It - Christine, The Phantom
- "Magical Lasso" - Buquet, Madame Giry, Meg
- "Notes/Prima Donna" - AndrÃ©, Firmin, Raoul, Carlotta, Madame Giry, Meg, Piangi, The Phantom
- "Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh" - Carlotta, Piangi, The Phantom, Ensemble
- "Why Have You Brought Me Here/Raoul, I've Been There" - Raoul, Christine
- "All I Ask of You" - Raoul, Christine
- "All I Ask Of You (Reprise)" - The Phantom
- Entr'acte - Orchestra
- "Masquerade" - Andre, Firmin, Ensemble
- "Why So Silent" - The Phantom
- "Notes/Twisted Every Way" - AndrÃ©, Firmin, Carlotta, Piangi, Raoul, Christine, Madame Giry, The Phantom
- "Don Juan Triumphant Rehearsal/Phantom of the Opera (Reprise)/Little Lotte (Reprise)" - Christine, Piangi, Reyer, Carlotta, Madame Giry, Ensemble
- "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" - Christine
- "Wandering Child/Bravo, Monsieur..." - The Phantom, Christine, Raoul
- "Don Juan Triumphant " - Carlotta, Piangi, Christine, Ensemble
- "The Point of No Return" - The Phantom, Christine
- "Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer" - The Phantom, Madame Giry, Raoul, Ensemble
- "Finale" - Christine, The Phantom, Raoul, Ensemble
What awards has The Phantom of the Opera won?
It's rare for a show to be both critically acclaimed and popular with the masses. But Phantom is both, if its longevity is any indication. And the musical received a diverse array of awards for acting, design, composition, and leadership alike. Here are the major awards Phantom has won.
- Olivier Awards: The West End production won four Olivier Awards of its five nominations: Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (for Michael Crawford), Most Popular Show, and the Audience Award.
- Tony Awards: The Broadway production of Phantom won seven Tony Awards out of 10 nominations: Best Musical, Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical (for Crawford again), Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical (for Judy Kaye as Carlotta Guidicelli), Best Direction of a Musical, Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, and Best Lighting Design.
- Drama Desk Awards: The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway also won seven Drama Desk Awards in 1988: Outstanding Actor in a Musical (for Crawford), Outstanding Director of a Musical, Outstanding Music, Outstanding Orchestrations, Outstanding Set Design, Outstanding Costume Design, and Outstanding Lighting Design.
Major productions of The Phantom of the Opera
The major productions of Phantom have mostly been replicas of the original West End production directed by Harold Prince, aside from the 25th anniversary U.S. and U.K. tours. Below are the major productions of Phantom and behind-the-scenes facts about them.
- 1987 West End production: For the original production, it took five people four weeks to build the chandelier, which is made of 6,000 beads and weighs one ton. It flies over the audience's heads and crashes on the stage at the end of Act One. Plus, a number of song lyrics in this production are different from the productions that came after it; those differences can be heard on the different cast albums.
- 1988 Broadway production: The Broadway production of Phantom almost didn't happen. Prior to the show coming to Broadway, Actors' Equity Association, the union for stage actors in the U.S., told the Phantom team that they would have to recast Christine with an American actress (per union rules). Andrew Lloyd Webber threatened to pull the production if Sarah Brigthman could not be in the show. The union relented, and the show went on to make Broadway history.
- Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular: This version of Phantom was edited down to just 90 minutes. The biggest change was that "The Point of No Return" was shortened, and the chandelier crash was staged after "The Point of No Return" rather than "All I Ask Of You."
- The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall: To celebrate the musical's 25th anniversary, Phantom was staged at the Royal Albert Hall for a two-night performance in 2011. Laurence Connor directs, and original creative team member Gillian Lynne returns to choreograph and do the musical staging. The cast includes Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom and Sierra Boggess as Christine (the two would later star in the original production of the Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies). Original cast members Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman perform some songs post-show. The performance was released on DVD in 2012. Connor also stages the 2012 UK tour of Phantom, which is more pared down than the original Harold Prince production, though the costuming remains the same.
Onscreen adaptations of The Phantom of the Opera
Talks about adapting Phantom for the screen had swirled since 1989 after Warner Bros. purchased the film rights to the show. Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman were in talks to reprise their roles. But production stalled on the film because of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Brightman's divorce. The film languished in development for over a decade, until 2002, when Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group had purchased the film rights from Warner Bros. Here are some more facts about the Phantom of the Opera film adaptation, which ultimately came out in 2004.
- The Phantom film starred Gerald Butler as the Phantom, Emmy Rossum as Christine, Patrick Wilson as Raoul, and Minnie Driver as Carlotta.
- Unlike the stage adaptation, the Phantom film had mostly negative reviews. Nonetheless, The Phantom of the Opera was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Song.
- Butler was the only main cast member who did not have music experience. He had to take singing lessons!
- Webber wrote some new music for the film, including the song "Learn to Be Lonely," which was written with Charles Hart and sung by Driver. The song was nominated for an Oscar. Some of the new music that Webber wrote for the film was later reused in Love Never Dies, his stage musical sequel to Phantom.
Fun facts about The Phantom of the Opera
From sequels to how the Broadway production almost didn't happen, there are enough facts and trivia about Phantom that would surprise even a longtime opera ghost. Here are some phun phacts about The Phantom of the Opera.
- The original Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera cost a record-at-the-time $8 million to produce, which would be $20 million today.
- There are 19 cast albums of The Phantom of the Opera available, including cast albums in non-English languages.
- The full white mask that has graced Phantom posters since 1987 isn't actually the mask that's worn in the show. The Phantom's mask in the show only covers one side of this face, from his right eye to his right cheek. But the mask that covers the entirety of the Phantom's face was actually tried out in a workshop production. That mask proved too difficult for the actor playing the Phantom, then Colm Wilkinson, to perform in, and he couldn't see well in it. So set and costume designer Maria BjÃ¶rnson designed the now-iconic half mask.
- Phantom fans (or "phans") have long debated whether Christine should choose the Phantom or Raoul. In 2010, Webber gave his opinion on the matter with his musical sequel to Phantom, Love Never Dies, which takes place 10 years after the ending of Phantom and reunites Christine with her angel of music in Coney Island. The musical was thoroughly panned on the West End, and despite getting a U.S. tour and productions worldwide, Love Never Dies has never been to Broadway. But Phantom phans can watch a filmed version of the Australian production, which was released on DVD in 2021.
- Princess Diana was such a fan of Phantom that for the seventh anniversary of her marriage to Prince Charles, she filmed a music video of herself on the Phantom set at Her Majesty's Theatre, singing "All I Ask Of You" dressed as Christine. The musical's choreographer, Gillian Lynne, even directed Diana in the video. Webber was there to oversee.
- Michael Jackson saw Phantom in 1988 and loved it so much, he told Webber backstage after a show that he wanted to play the Phantom in a film version. Webber declined since Michael Crawford was also on board to play the Phantom in the film version. But the thought of the King of Pop playing the Angel of Music â€” talk about a thriller night!
How to get The Phantom of the Opera tickets
Don't miss this iconic Broadway staple in its final months. If you love romance and spectacle, give in to the power of the music of the night by seeing The Phantom of the Opera. Make sure to watch your head for the falling chandelier.
The Phantom of the Opera tickets are available now. Get tickets to The Phantom of the Opera on New York Theatre Guide today.
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