‘The Phantom of the Opera’ to end record Broadway run

Caryl Anne Francia, Business Editor

“The Phantom of the Opera” dropped a chandelier onto the theater world after announcing its long-running Broadway production would close next year.

The show is set to close on Feb. 18, 2023, almost a month after it will celebrate a record 35 years of performances.

“I know we still have some time between now and February of next year, but I’m going to cherish every moment as I have for the last five years — even the ups and downs of this pandemic,” Ubaldo Piangi’s understudy Chris Georgetti said in an Instagram post. “I didn’t think anyone thought we were going anywhere, but everything ends at some point.”

The musical has generated one of the highest revenues in American theater history, with $1.3 billion in income and 19.8 million people in attendance since opening at the Majestic Theatre. It is also a huge employer in the NYC theater industry, employing about 6,500 people over time with 450 currently in the production, according to Playbill.

“Phantom” was one of the last Broadway shows to perform before the day-turned-weeks-turned-months-long shutdown went into effect due to COVID-19. After enduring the pandemic, the Broadway production reopened on Oct. 22, 2021.

Increasing in net worth to $950,000, the musical cited its inability to meet weekly production costs since reopening, as the reason for the closure. “Phantom” has been losing $1 million in revenue per month, and Producer Cameron Mackintosh attributed the decline to less international tourism.

The musical is an adaptation of the 1910 Gaston Leroux gothic novel of the same name. It follows ballerina Christine Daaé as she faces romantic advances from a childhood friend and the titular character, who helps her rise as an opera star.

After a successful year into its West End run in London, the musical opened at Broadway’s Majestic Theatre on Jan. 26, 1988. Notable songs that were composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber include “All I Ask of You,” “Masquerade,” “The Music of the Night” and the titular song.

The show won seven of the 10 Tony Awards it was nominated for, including best new musical, best leading musical actor and best costume design. The show broke the record for the longest-running Broadway show with 7,486 performances on Jan. 9, 2006. The show is slated to close after 13,925 performances.

Upon the show’s reopening in 2021, Emilie Kouatchou made history by becoming the first Black actress to play Christine on Broadway. Initially the alternate performer, she was promoted to the principal role. History was made again when Kanisha Feliciano, who joined in May as a Christine understudy, became the first Afro-Latina performer to play the role.

“If you haven’t seen the show or haven’t seen it in a while, now is the time to come see it and see these amazing people who’ve spent their lives making history,” Feliciano said in an Instagram live stream. “I’m so glad I joined when I did, and I’m still pinching myself that I’ve been on for Christine twice.”

Devoted “phans” of the show grieved over the news. Marlene Adelman, who runs the Instagram fan account @anoperaghost, said that she has “never known a time when Bway didn’t have Phantom.”

“It’s a part of myself and my life, as it is to millions,” Adelman wrote in a post. “Quite frankly, I don’t think I’ve seen such an outpouring of emotions over a show closing like with Phantom. It’s that much of a NY staple.”

It may not be over for the music of the night, following a reported surge in ticket sales after the closure announcement. Rush ticket sales rose to $2 million, according to The New York Times.

“If we sell our tickets, then that may extend the run, so get your tickets and support us,” Raquel Suarez Groen, who stars as Carlotta Giudicelli, said in an Instagram post. “We love you, and we will miss you.”

CUNY students may watch “Phantom” at a reduced price through the TDF Broadway Passport Series program.