Fans of “Phantom of the Opera” bid farewell to the longest running show on Broadway

(CNN) The Phantom of the Opera isn’t just a Broadway icon — it’s a cultural giant.

There’s Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lavish organ score, his lavish sets and elaborate costumes. There is a melodramatic love triangle between the beautiful soprano, her oversized beau, and the misunderstood sewer-dweller, composer, and voice teacher. Then there is the chandelier, of course. There are few moments in musical theater more exciting than before the gigantic lighting unit came to life.

People wait in line to see “The Phantom of the Opera” in midtown Manhattan as temperatures enter the 90s on July 21, 2022 in New York City.

After 35 years and nearly 14,000 performances, The Phantom of the Opera is taking its turn last bow Sunday on Broadway. Soon, the posters advertising the show featuring nothing but the famous Phantom mask and a single rose will be removed from Times Square, and the Majestic Theater will remain empty for the first time since Phantom opened in 1988.

news of its closure Musical theater fans stun – Broadway’s longest-running show has always seemed like a stable presence on West 44th Street. But it’s an expensive venture—after the show returns from pandemic-induced lockdown, it’s weekly operating costs Close to a million dollars, and often It will not be gross enough to offset those costs. It became impossible for such a lavish production to maintain its place on Broadway without losing money.

No one took the news harder than the most devoted Phantom fans — ororphansRather. Many of them have watched the show dozens or even hundreds of times. They have followed the show all over the country and the world, and some even got tickets for Sunday night’s final “Phantom” performance. They took solace in his imagination, identified with the heroes at its center and shaped enduring links with fellow theater-goers throughout his career.

Many of the orphans have been fascinated by music, like Christine under the title character’s spell, and for a long time could no longer pinpoint what makes her so charming – it has been a constant in their lives.

Stagehands unveils the chandelier during preparations for the reopening of The Phantom of the Opera at New York’s Majestic Theater on September 28, 2021.

“I can tell I love the music, the scenery, and the fact that the ghost sacrifices its happiness for Christine in the end,” said Katie Yelink, a Pennsylvania librarian who fell in love with “Phantom” in 1993. “They create magic and a sense of awe. But listing these individually does not account for the indescribable sum of their parts that make ‘Phantom’ unparalleled in any other music.”

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Charlie Peterson, a pupil since the eighth grade, said they used to spend months after their mother’s death listening to soundtracks with their best childhood friends. Although they now live across the country from this friend, they still meet to enjoy a performance of the musical that encouraged them in their youth.

“It was a place to go when I felt I needed to,” Peterson told CNN. Losing ‘The Ghost’ on Broadway Now ‘It Feels Like Another Friend Walking Away’.

The “Ghost” Phantom is spectacularly dedicated to music

Actor Ben Crawford, who plays the Phantom, takes a selfie with a fan after his performance at “Phantom of the Opera” reopening night at the Majestic Theater in New York City on October 22, 2021.

Sierra Boggis, one of the most beloved illustrators of female lead Christine Bean’s “Van” base, told CNN that fans of the show are “incredibly special” even among the most ardent musical theater fans.

Take Dick Moore, for example: The Denver native has watched the show more than 200 times, and his house is decorated with Phantom memorabilia from “35 years on the hunt for the Phantom,” he told CNN.

“Every time I watch the show, it’s like seeing it for the first time,” he said Tell Denver Center for the Performing Arts in 2019, in honor of his 198th performance of “I Never Get Tired of It.”

Phantom follows the lifestyle of some orphans – many of whom have made regular trips to Majestic throughout their lives to seek new interpretations of Kristen and the Masked Maestro. And when news of the show’s closure broke, fans clamored to buy tickets for the rest of the show—the closing date was pushed back several weeks to meet Fan request. About a week after announcing its end, her The weekly total rose From $964,000 to $1.2 million. Last week, it grossed $3.6 million — tickets to see the show’s final performances didn’t come cheap.

Vance told CNN in the days leading up to the final production of “Phantom” that they were preparing for their final farewell with a heavy heart. Wallace Phillips, a New York filmmaker and animator, has seen the show 140 times in the last 13 years. Speaking with CNN before the show wrapped, he said he hopes to squeeze in a few more shows before Sunday.

Even if The Phantom of the Opera returns to Broadway, Ian Petrillo Eisenberg said, it may not be the same.

Ian Petrillo Eisenberg learned of the closure while working in Hawaii. “Phantom” was the show that inspired him to study theater at the University of Texas at Austin, and years later, he won the opportunity to join a Broadway troupe for one night and overshadowed veteran James Barbour, who played the Phantom in 2015.

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Eager to relive what he described as one of the best nights of his life, he quickly booked a flight to New York for a show earlier this month.

“I am devastated that this Broadway icon is leaving for good,” Eisenberg said. “And even if she did come back, it would never be the same.”

Many orphans share Eisenberg’s sorrows: “Phantom” is back To London’s West End with the Orchestra halfway through in 2021 after the pandemic halted all performances. Many feared that the score would lose its impact with fewer musicians. Many now fear that if the show eventually returns to Broadway, it will lose much of the magic of the original show.

He has become an icon off stage

A scene during the performance of the musical “The Phantom of the Opera” at the Majestic Theater in New York, February 7, 2012.

The pandemic has made them, for some, appreciate “the ghost” more than ever. Andrew Devrin, a student at Fordham University studying theater directing, has been “totally fascinated” by Phantom since he first saw the show at the age of six. Special Phantom Mask. But he did not watch the show again until he returned from the Covid-induced lockdown in 2021.

He said he will be attending his 20th screening of “Phantom” on Saturday. Plan to bring tissues.

“It’s really the end of an era,” Defren told CNN. “I’ve never seen any other marquees at the Majestic Theatre. Not to see that mask there would be devastating.”

“Phantom” is the most enduring relic of the ’80s musicals built on a scene: “Les Misérables” had a huge cast and an even bigger blockbuster. Miss Saigon had her chopper and Kats in the junkyard. (All four of the huge musicals, not coincidentally, involve producer Cameron Mackintosh.) But all of those shows have closed, been revived on and off again since Phantom first appeared on the scene.

The musical reintroduced the novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux to fans who couldn’t get enough of Phantom. While adaptations of the source material existed before Webber’s musical, quotes and parodies that specifically refer to the show’s interpretation of “Phantom” can be seen throughout popular culture – including films and even Children’s TV.

Andrew Defren has said he became “fascinated” by “The Phantom of the Opera” at the age of six.

Devrin acknowledged that Weber’s musical has its fair share of detractors who are not impressed by its melodramatic script and score. But he said it’s hard to deny the cultural “phenomenon” — its icons have become so recognizable that its marquee doesn’t even include the title of the music.

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“Of course there will be a hole in my heart,” Dufresne said of her closure.

Parents say goodbye to “Phantom” on Sunday

Some followers, like Phillips, are taking the show’s end in stride, even if it hurts them too.

“Part of me sees this as a new beginning,” he said. “I want to keep the show’s legacy alive in the best possible way.”

Phillips said he dreams of adapting the musical as an animated film one day — another way that “Phantom” could survive off Broadway.

Meanwhile, Boggis has come to terms with the severity of the Phantom’s role in her life. She played Christine across the pond — not just on Broadway — and in the musical sequel, Love Never Dies.

Hugh Panaro and Sierra Boggs during the “Phantom of the Opera – 25 Years on Broadway” Gala Performance Curtain Gala at the Majestic Theater in New York City on January 26, 2013.

From rehearsing for a Las Vegas production with the late original director Hal PrinceHitting the high point on the music’s title song, which is the highest note Kristen sings on the show, she told CNN that she treasured her memories of the performance in “Phantom” as one of the fondest memories of her career.

“Singing (Weber’s) music is one of the greatest gifts in my life,” she said.

While Defrin eagerly studied “Phantom” as an aspiring director, he’ll miss sharing the show with friends more than ever. He brought over 20 people with him to the show, and watching another person’s jaw drop as the chandelier rises and the iconic organ begins to play was a one-of-a-kind thrill.

“There is no reaction like that,” he said of sharing the “Gift of the Phantom” with his loved ones.

Phantom will not completely disappear from the theatrical scene – it will likely continue to tour, and licensing rights are available to amateur theater companies. But when Majestic’s marquee dims Sunday night, and the Phantom finally gives up the stage haunting he’s been haunting for 35 years, Broadway will feel a little unimaginative without him.

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