“The Phantom of the Opera” ended Sunday night's longest running run in Broadway history with a glittering final performance in which even the production's signature chandelier, which had just dropped onto the Majestic Theater stage for the 13,981st time, earned its own curtain. calling.
The invite-only crowd was packed with Broadway lovers, including actors who have performed in the show for 35 years, as well as many theater artists (including Lin-Manuel Miranda) and fans who won a special ticket raffle. Some wore Phantom regalia; a man arrives wearing the character's lavish Red Death costume.
The final performance, which ran from 5:22 pm to 7:56 pm, was repeatedly interrupted by applause, not only for the main actors, but for beloved props, including the monkey music box, and scenic elements such as gondolas being rowed. through an underground lake dotted with candles. After the final curtain, the stagehands who make the show into an elaborate spectacle that happens night after night, are invited on stage to a standing ovation.
“It's amazing, really, what has happened,” said composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote the show's score that soared, after the final curtain, as he dedicated the performance to his son Nicholas, who died three weeks ago.
Lloyd Webber spoke with his longtime collaborator and lead producer of the show, Cameron Mackintosh. They invited alumni of the original Broadway production to join them on stage, and projected onto the back wall of the theater images of deceased members of the original creative team, including its director, Hal Prince, as well as each of the actors who played the two main roles (the Phantom and Christine, singer the young soprano with whom he became obsessed).
Toward the end of the evening, Mackintosh recognized the one-ton chandelier, which lowered from the ceiling to a standing ovation, and the crowd showered in gold and silver metallic confetti, some of which was suspended by streamers from the chandeliers.
Hours before the curtain, fans gathered across the street, waving and taking pictures and hoping to somehow get a spare ticket. Among them is Lexie Luhrs, 25, from Washington, in a Phantom look: a black cape, homemade mask, plus a fedora, waistcoat and bow tie, and mask earrings and mask necklace. “I'm here to celebrate a show that means a lot to us,” said Luhrs.
On Broadway, “Phantom”, obviously, was hugely successful, playing to 20 million people and grossing $1.36 billion since opening in January 1988. And the show has become an international phenomenon, playing in 17 languages in 45 countries and grossing over $6 billion globally. But Broadway shows have finally succumbed to the dual effects of inflation and reduced tourism following the coronavirus pandemic shutdown.
It closes on an unexpected high note – and it's not just the high E that Christine sings on the title track. Immediately after the closure was announced last September, sales soared, as those who already loved the music flocked to see it, and procrastinators realized it could be their last chance; its original February closing date was delayed by two months to accommodate demand, and the show was once again the highest-grossing on Broadway, playing to eager audiences, enjoying a glittering reputation, and earning over $3 million a week.
“For a show to come out triumphant like this is almost unheard of,” said Mackintosh.
After the final show, the show company and its alumni gathered for an invite-only celebration at the Metropolitan Club, with the show's iconic mask projected onto a wall beside the marble staircase.
The show, with music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Charles Hart, is still running in London, where orchestra sizes were cut and sets revamped during the pandemic shutdown to reduce operating costs, and are currently running in the Czech Republic as well. , Japan, South Korea, and Sweden. New production is scheduled to open in China next month, in Italy in July and in Spain in October.
And will it ever return to New York? “Of course, at some point,” Mackintosh said in an interview. “But it's time for the show to rest.”