The Phantom of the Opera is Michael Crawford’s fourth major West End musical, after Barnum, Billy and Flowers for Algernon.
Michael Crawford was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire and began his professional career as a boy soprano in Benjamin Britten’s Let’s Make An Opera. There followed television and some 500 radio broadcasts and he was hailed in the 60s for his portrayal of ‘Byron’ in the popular television programme Not So Much A Programme, More A Way Of Life. This was followed by playing Colin in The Knack which won the Best Film Award at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival. On his return to England from filming A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, he was greeted with the Variety Club’s Award for the ‘Most Promising Actor’ for that year for Not So Much A Programme and as ‘Best Newcomer’ for his performance in The Knack in the Film Academy Awards. This was followed by more television work and the films The Jokers co-starring with Oliver Reed and Harry Andrews, How I Won The War with John Lennon, The Games, Hello And Goodbye, and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (as the White Rabbit).
He first appeared on Broadway in 1967 with Black Comedy for which he won the Theatre Award for the ‘Most Out- standing Performance’ of that year. It was during this run that Gene Kelly chose him to co-star with Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau in Hello Dolly! His return to the British stage in No Sex Please, We’re British was followed by the BBC’S most popular television series, Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em.
During this same year, 1974, the TV Times readers voted Michael ‘Funniest Man on Television’, the Sun newspaper The Television Actor of the Year’; he was also awarded the Silver Rat Award as ‘Showbusiness Personality of the Year’ by the Water Rats and the Silver Heart by the Variety Club for his performance in Billy. In 1978 he played in Same Time Next Year at the Prince of Wales Theatre, followed by a new series of Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em for which he received the funniest Man on Television’ award for 1978 from the BBC. He appeared in the opening plays of the 1978 Play For Today season in a double bill, Private View and Audience, followed by the hit comedy series Chalk and Cheese for Thames Television.
He went to Hollywood last year to play a star ‘ role in Walt Disney’s Condorman.
For Barnum at the London Palladium he received the Society of West End Theatre Award as ‘Best Actor in a Musical’.