Box office phenomenon to shatter the record held by Cats when it plays performance #7,486 Special Gala Performance to be followed by a Masked Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria.
The Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Group, Inc. production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Harold Prince, will make history when it plays performance #7,486 on Monday evening, 9th January 9, 2006, to become the longest-running show in Broadway history. The musical will shatter the record held by current champ Cats, which was also written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and produced by Cameron Mackintosh.
While many of the evening’s details won’t be announced for several weeks, the special night will begin with an early 6.30pm performance at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street), the musical’s home for its entire run. The performance will be followed by a one-night-only onstage presentation being devised by the musical’s creators to uniquely mark this historic occasion. Immediately following, guests will attend a glamorous Masked Ball in the world-renowned Grand Ballroom of the landmark Waldorf-Astoria Hotel (301 Park Avenue).
A continuing box-office phenomenon, The Phantom of the Opera recently enjoyed a record-breaking summer at the box office. Even now – in its incredible 18th year on Broadway – it continues to play to near-capacity audiences and is consistently among Broadway’s highest-grossing shows.
On Broadway, since its debut on 26th January, 1988, The Phantom of the Opera has grossed nearly $600 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history. Total attendance is at 11 million. Its international success – equally staggering – is represented by a total worldwide box office gross of $3.2 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.
The Phantom of the Opera has always been a record-breaker, with the New York production setting benchmarks that have dominated the industry: for capitalization (a then-spectacular $8 million), total advance (a then-colossal $18 million), total gross and attendance (by January, expected to hit a whopping $600 million and 11 million, and counting) and even the number of years before a single ticket was ever sold at the TKTS ticket booth in Times Square (over 14 years, which is still the record, by a long shot). Phantom will continue its long tradition of shattering records by not only becoming the longest-running show in Broadway history, but also by becoming the first Broadway production to reach its Eighteenth Anniversary. It will celebrate this unprecedented milestone on Thursday evening, January 26, 2006, just a few weeks after the record-breaking.
The original creative team has always kept a close eye on the New York production and has specially chosen the cast that will perform at the record-breaking performance, who are now performing at The Majestic. For the legendary title role, producer Cameron Mackintosh, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and director Harold Prince invited back acclaimed Phantom Howard McGillin, who has played the title role on Broadway more than any other performer. Broadway’s longest-running Phantom, he previously donned the mask for a total of three and a half years and over 1,200 performances. When Clive Barnes of The New York Post saw his performance in 2001, he gave the production “four stars,” calling Mr. McGillin “a Broadway star in his own right, who gives a strongly-sung and fiercely dramatic performance, more than any Phantom I have seen since the original. He has an instinctive sense of the theater, and this serves him handsomely here.”
Joining Mr. McGillin in the record-breaking company are a host of Phantom favorites. Leading lady Sandra Joseph, who plays Christine, has played the role throughout the country, including over 1,000 times on Broadway. Tim Martin Gleason, who plays her romantic interest Raoul, starred in the role throughout the US on the current national tour. George Lee Andrews, an original cast member who has been with the show for the entire run, plays opera house manager Monsieur André. Broadway veteran Tim Jerome plays his business partner (and comic sidekick), Monsieur Firmin. Broadway favorite Anne Runolfsson plays opera diva Carlotta. Marilyn Caskey, who previously played the role of Carlotta for several years, now plays the mysterious ballet mistress Madame Giry. (She is the only actress in the history of the Broadway production to have been contracted to play both principal roles). Larry Wayne Morbitt plays the vainglorious opera tenor Piangi, a role he’s performed for over seven years at The Majestic, since 1998. Heather McFadden, who performed with the national tour, is making her Broadway debut as Madame Giry’s daughter, the young ballerina Meg. (Currently on maternity leave, Ms. McFadden will return in the first week in January. Until then, the role of Meg is being played by Kara Klein, direct from the national tour in her Broadway debut.) At certain performances, Rebecca Pitcher, most recently Christine with the current national tour, plays the role of Christine.
The 35-member person cast features three performers who have been with the show since the beginning: George Lee Andrews (Monsieur André), Mary Leigh Stahl (Wardrobe Mistress/Confidante) and Richard Warren Pugh (Don Attilio).
As of the record-breaking date, the five longest-running shows in Broadway history will be:
1) The Phantom of the Opera (7,486 performances and counting, with no end in sight)
2) Cats (7,485 performances)
3) Les Misérables (6,680 performances)
4) A Chorus Line (6,137 performances)
5) Oh! Calcutta! (5,959 performances)
The Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Les Misérables were all produced by Cameron Mackintosh.
In addition to Phantom’s amazing box office success, the Broadway production continues to consistently earn rave reviews from returning critics:
In the New York Times (1st July, 2005), Jason Zinoman proclaimed, “Phantom still delivers the goods! Judging by sheer invention, emotional punch and onstage talent, the venerable blockbuster still beats out almost all of the whippersnappers currently on Broadway. Maria Björnson’s flamboyant gothic design and Harold Prince’s fantastical staging still have the gleam of finely polished professionalism. The solid cast retains the freshness of opening night.”
David Richardson on WOR Radio (July 26, 2005) raved, “Phantom is still wonderful and isn’t showing its age one bit! The chandelier still falls on cue and the show still rises to the top of all the musicals ever to appear on Broadway. I hope I listen to the music of the night forever!” And Howard Kissel of the Daily News (9th August 2005) wrote, “I have never enjoyed Phantom more than I did this time!”
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