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Phantom of the Opera closes after 35 years on Broadway

By Kevin Lake, Staff Writer

On Sept. 16, it was announced that the Broadway play, “Phantom of the Opera” will be closing on Feb. 18 shortly after its 35th anniversary, making it the longest running show in Broadway history. 

Andrew Lloyd Weber’s iconic adaptation based on the 1909 French novel of the same name has been a staple of theater and New York culture for decades and many are shocked to see it go.

 “I didn’t expect it, Phantom was one of those things that was always there and [seemed as though] it would always be there,” said senior theater major, Alia Gonzalez.

  The show was wildly successful during its initial start in 1988 and has run for 13,525 shows in the Majestic Theater as of Sept. 27. It has won 7 Tony Awards, including best musical and its official soundtrack has sold over 4 million copies.

The story follows a 19th century Opera House in Paris tormented by a mysterious menace who is fixated on one of the cast members and will stop at nothing to have her.

   The musical also popularized the villainous Erik’s half-faced mask, whereas previous adaptations, including the 1925 and 1943 theatrical adaptations of the book, had a mask that covered his entire face. 

It’s been clarified that disappointing ticket sales after the COVID-19 pandemic has been the main factor in finally pulling the plug on the decades old show. 

The current run of The Phantom of The Opera is also notable for having one of the protagonists, Christine Daee, be played by Emilie Kouatchou, the first woman of color to take on the role.

While the musical will no longer be performed in the Majestic theater, there are still other possible ways to see it such as its London and Australian productions. It’s not too late to get tickets in New York either, but sales have skyrocketed since the announcement.

“I think it’s something that you should see once if you are interested in learning about theater since it defined Broadway, so you might regret it if you don’t see it,” Gonzalez said.

Not everyone in the theater community was shaken by this news, however.  

“I didn’t even realize it was still running,” sophomore theater major Teddy Brock said.

Brock firmly believes there are better plays to see in the city this year.

 “Honestly, I don’t think it was that great of a show, it’s definitely iconic, it’s one of those things where they had a great run, godspeed,” he stated. 

There has been worry that Phantom’s closing could overshadow other new productions or set a grim tone for Broadway’s future after the pandemic.

Even fans of the show admit that the play may be challenging to absorb for newcomers.  

“It’s also not a production I’d recommend to everyone since there are other pieces on Broadway that are more entertaining than Phantom, but if you are looking for a classic theater experience, see Phantom, I really enjoyed the older production techniques utilized, which aren’t seen as frequently,” Gonzalez said.

It is currently unknown what will replace the Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic theater.

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