February 7, 2018
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s hit musical Phantom of the Opera began its Broadway run in early 1988 and has been running ever since. With over 12,000 performances under their belt, the show has become Broadway’s’ longest-running show with the 1997 Revival of Chicago coming in second with almost 9,000 performances.
With so many different adaptations of Phantom being performed around the world, people still flock to the musical to see it under the lights of New York’s well-known theatre district. But, what keeps the thirty-year-old musical running and why does it continue to garner support?
Many people believe that the success in the United States from the original director of the show, Harold Prince, who still visits the show four times a year. Because of his, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Cameron Mackintosh’s sharp attention to detail, the cast is constantly working to be their best with support rehearsals with full costume and orchestra. The show and theatre also go through updates, including a new sound system going into the Majestic Theatre.
Phantom is also very flexible as it travels from country to country. The staging is not elaborate like many people think of when they imagine theatre productions. This flexibility makes it so theatres that are not “state-of-the-art” opera houses can create a meaningful production that rivals the original.
As a sung-through musical the various cast recordings leave very little out of the plot line. A sung-through musical means that the show is made up of music rather than breaks in between the songs for dialogue. Phantom of the Opera has been translated into numerous languages including German from the Vienna cast of 1989. With so many cast recordings in existence, it is very unlikely that someone will not find a version that they like.
The marketing for Phantom has very interesting tactics. The show was originally marketed in New York with a minimalistic flair. The image has the iconic mask of the main character and a shattered glass font with the word Phantom written on it. This idea began to be adapted to many other shows such as The Lion King and Hamilton.
Their show times and prices are also very interesting for such a global success. As most of Broadway goes “dark” on Monday, Phantom of the Opera still shows confidently and it was one of the first shows to give an early Thursday show a try. With their unique pricing tactics, the show is easily able to fill up what we could call “nosebleed” seats, aka the mezzanine. In the chilly winter, prices actually lower considering the busy schedules of parents and college students. Compared to the summertime, fewer people are coming to see the show due to prior commitments, but Phantom makes the most out of this with lesser prices tickets.