The show was reportedly struggling to recover from the ticket slump that much of Broadway has been facing amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Composed by British theater legend Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Charles Hart, the memorable musical features the songs ‘Music of the Night’, ‘Think of Me’ and ‘All I Ask of You’. It debuted in New York in 1988, produced by Cameron Mackintosh and directed by Hal Prince, and won seven Tony Awards including Best Musical.
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Based on a novel by French author Gaston Leroux, the romantic thriller tells the story of a disfigured masked man, the Phantom, who haunts the Paris Opera and is obsessed with dancer Christine Daaé. He teaches her to sing, makes her a reluctant muse for his genius, and later kidnaps her to his hideout.
The production is known for its dramatic set design – and an iconic moment when a large chandelier falls from the ceiling.
“As a producer, you dream of a show going on forever,” Mackintosh told the Associated Press. “Indeed, my production of Andrew’s ‘Cats’ proudly proclaimed ‘Now and Forever’ for decades. But “Phantom” surpassed that show’s extraordinary Broadway performance. But all shows eventually close.”
Like other creative industries, Broadway has been hit hard by the pandemic, with theaters closing to audiences in 2020. The shows returned in fall 2021, and theater critics predicted a rebound in New York’s cultural life. But the definitive closure of Phantom underscores the difficulties the costly entertainment industry still faces. Since July, spectator vaccination requirements have been lifted and mask-wearing has become optional.
Overall, the show ends after a whopping 13,925 performances. It has won more than 70 major theater awards and has been viewed by more than 140 million people worldwide.
Actors in his 35 years included Michael Crawford, George Lee Andrews, Howard McGillin, Judy Kaye and Sarah Brightman. In 2021, Emilie Kouatchou made history as the first black actress to be cast as Christine on Broadway. The show was also filmed in 2004, starring Gerard Butler in the title role.
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Webber has ruled the musical theater world for more than 50 years, writing hit shows like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Woman in White and Cats, which ran on Broadway for 18 years and ended in 2000. He is also one of the few artists who have achieved “EGOT status” and received Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.
After “Phantom” retires its Broadway crown, the next longest-running show is the revival of “Chicago,” which began in 1996, followed by “The Lion King,” which launched a year later.
But in theater as in life, endings can lead to new beginnings, and “Phantom” is slated to make its Mandarin debut in 2023 when it arrives in China. It also made its Sydney Opera House debut last month.
Fans can still buy tickets for Broadway performances until Jan. 22, and tickets for the final shows should go on sale “soon,” according to the theater company.