Phantom Broadway turns 21!

The Phantom of the Opera is to become the first show in Broadway history to celebrate 21 years on Monday, January 26, 2009.

The most successful stage musical of all time, the Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Group, Inc. production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Harold Prince, will reach an unprecedented milestone when it celebrates its twenty-first anniversary on Broadway on Monday, January 26, 2009. On that date, playing its 8,732nd performance at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street), it will become the first Broadway production ever to have run 21 years.

The longest-running show in Broadway history (a feat it achieved in January 2006 when it surpassed the run of Cats), the musical is the winner of 7 1988 Tony Awards including Best Musical. Since its Broadway debut on January 26, 1988, The Phantom of the Operahas grossed $715 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history. Total New York attendance is at 13 million. Having since surpassed Cats record by a phenomenal 3 years and 1,200 performances, it has now played over 8,700 performances – the only show in Broadway history to do so – and all with no end in sight.

As a major vote of confidence in the future of the Broadway production, last August the producers took the extraordinary step of installing a brand-new digital sound system (at an investment of $750,000) to bring the production’s sound design technology into the 21s Century. The move followed last May’s successful installation of the same new digital sound system into the London production.

Its international success – equally staggering – is represented by total worldwide grosses estimated at over $5 billion. This colossal figure makes 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. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber recently confirmed that he has greenlit production on a sequel to the show, Phantom: Love Never Dies.

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-enormous $18 million), total gross and attendance ($715 million and 13 million and counting), total performances (becoming the first and still only show to ever reach 7,500; 8,000; 8,500 and now over 8,700 perfs), 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). And since becoming the longest-running show in Broadway history in 2006, each performance has set a new longevity record. 

The musical has also broken all touring records. It continues to be the longest continuously-touring show in U.S. history, with the first of its three national tours having gone out over 20 years ago in May 1989. The current tour is the longest-running touring production in U.S. history, having recently celebrated its 16th Anniversary on December 13, 2008, and having played over 6,500 performances.

The Phantom of the Opera had its world premiere on October 9, 1986 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, winning every major British theatre award including the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards. The New York production opened on January 26, 1988 with a then record advance of $18 million. The musical went on to sweep the 1988 Tony Awards, winning seven, including Best Musical. The Phantom of the Operaalso won seven Drama Desk Awards and three Outer Critics Circle Awards. The original London cast recording was the first in British musical history to enter the charts at number one. It has since gone both gold and platinum in Britain and the U.S. selling over 40 million copies worldwide.

Based on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command.

Check out the photos from the evening at www.broadway.com

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