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Phantom Broadway goes digital  
Broadway installs a state-of-the-art digital sound system.
John Cudia as the Phantom, Majestic Theater, Broadway

On August 24th, the Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera to close down for four performances to install a state-of-the-art $750,000 digital sound system, re-opening Thursday 28th August sounding better than ever.

This August, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh will take the extraordinary step of closing down The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running show in Broadway history, for four performances to install a brand-new digital sound system to bring the production’s sound design technology into the 21st century.  The producers are investing an estimated $750,000 into installing the state-of-the-art system.

Now in its phenomenal 21st Year at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street), the record-breaking production, directed by Harold Prince, continues to play with no end in sight.

The move follows this past May’s tremendously successful installation of the same digital sound system into the London production.

The final performance before the change-over will be Saturday evening, August 23rd at 8pm.  Beginning Sunday, August 24th, the Phantom crew will begin four straight days of working on the installation so the new system is up and running for its debut performance on Thursday evening, 28th August at 8pm.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said, “The most recent productions of The Phantom of the Opera around the world, from Vegas to China, have had the most fantastic sound systems.  Installing a new system in the London production earlier this year brilliantly brought the flagship production into the 21st century.  New York will now follow, getting the newest and best of them all to ensure state-of-the-art sound for our audiences and enhance one of the biggest orchestras on Broadway.”

Cameron Mackintosh said, “Phantom had ground-breaking sound when it opened in New York in 1988 and Andrew and I have wanted for some time to give our sound system a complete update so that audiences could enjoy the most exciting theatrical sound on Broadway.”

Designed by Olivier Award winner Mick Potter, the new surround sound system will consist of over six miles of cable, an incredible 155 speakers placed throughout the auditorium and a digital sound desk that will make the 28-member orchestra and 36 strong cast sound more powerful and clear than ever before.  The digital system will up the number of microphones used in the show from 58 to 76 and the Phantom himself will have 3 dedicated microphones.  The intensive work involved will include dismantling and ultimately reassembling the musical’s opulent, golden proscenium of iconic angels and satyrs.  Potter won the 2005 Olivier Award for Best Sound Design for The Woman in White.  Additional West End/Broadway credits include Saturday Night Fever, Starlight Express, Jesus Christ Superstar, Whistle Down the Wind and Evita.  His new sound design for Phantom was installed in Her Majesty’s Theatre in the West End in May 2008.  Following Las Vegas and London, New York will be his third Phantom production.

On Broadway, since its debut on January 26, 1988, The Phantom of the Opera has grossed $690 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history.  The production recently played its milestone 8,500th performance and total New York attendance is at 12.5 million.  Phantom became the longest-running show in Broadway history on January 9, 2006 (surpassing the 7,485-performance run of Cats) and has now played more than 1,000 performances and over two and a half years since breaking that record.

Its international success – equally staggering – is represented by a total worldwide box office gross of more than $5 billion, making Phantom the most successful entertainment venture of all time, surpassing not only any other stage production, but also far surpassing the world’s highest-grossing film Titanic (at $1.2 billion) and such other blockbusters as The Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park and Star Wars.  Worldwide attendance is over 80 million people, having played over 65,000 performances in 25 countries and 124 cities.  It’s won over 50 Theater awards including seven Tonys, and there are currently eight productions around the world.

The Phantom of the Opera has music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and is directed  by Harold Prince.  Lyrics are by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe) and the book is by Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd Webber.  The Phantom of the Opera has production design by the late Maria Björnson, lighting by Andrew Bridge and original sound design by Martin Levan.  Musical staging and choreography is by Gillian Lynne.  Orchestrations are by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The Phantom of the Opera currently stars John Cudia in the title role with Jennifer Hope Wills as Christine and Tim Martin Gleason as Raoul.  On 28th July, Howard McGillin, who at over 2,000 times has played the Phantom on Broadway more than any other performer, will return to the title role.

The regular performance schedule for The Phantom of the Opera is Monday and Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8pm. and Tuesday evenings at 7pm. with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm.  For tickets, go online at telecharge.com, call (212) 239-6200 or visit The Majestic Theatre box office (247 West 44th Street).

Posted on: 16th July 2008

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