After Six Years, Phantom's Las Vegas Lair Shuts Down to Make Way for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
By Kenneth Jones
Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular, director Harold Prince's revised staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber's internationally popular musical — putting the audience in an immersive, intermissionless, 95-minute experience — will play its final performance at the Venetian Resort at 7 PM Sept. 2.
When the curtain comes down on the Nevada company led by Tony Award winner Anthony Crivello (Kiss of the Spider Woman) as the masked Phantom of the Opera, the show will have played 2,691 performances. "Millions" have attended the desert staging, according to the producers.
The run began June 12, 2006, when it played 10 performances a week. Prince, the 21-time Tony Award winner, helped revise his London and Broadway staging to the specifications of a new $40 million theatre — and to the taste of Las Vegas tourist audiences, who tend to like their shows flashy and under two hours (so they can do more gambling, shopping or dining).
Prince did not personally accept his Special 2006 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in New York City that year — he was in the middle of rehearsals for this unique Phantom.
A private cast party will follow the Sunday performance. Prince will not be in attendance, a spokesperson for the Vegas production told Playbill.com. Prince and Lloyd Webber personally crafted this new version. When it launched, Crivello alternated in the title role with Brent Barrett. Crivello now plays the Phantom solo, opposite Kristi Holden as Christine and Andrew Ragone as Raoul.
Once the finery of the late designer Maria Björnson's set is taken out of the Venetian, Soul2Soul — a concert by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill — will be the attraction in the venue.
Phantom at The Venetian Resort is produced by The Really Useful Theatre Company Inc. and BASE Entertainment.
The Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running show in American history. It will celebrate its 25th anniversary in January 2013 at the Majestic Theatre. (The musical had its world premiere in London.)
Based on "Le Fantome de L'Opera," the pulpy novel by Gaston Leroux, the Tony Award-winning musical about a deformed musical genius who teaches and falls in love with a young soprano in the catacombs below the Paris Opera, has music by Lloyd Webber, book by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe.
"All involved are very proud of the success that Phantom has achieved here in Las Vegas at The Venetian," Scott Zeiger, co-CEO of BASE Entertainment, the show's co-producer, said in a previous statement. "Since opening night, critics and fans alike have recognized this production of Phantom is unlike any they have ever seen, or will ever see again. We've had a triumphant run by any measure."
"The Las Vegas production of Phantom took all of the classic elements of the show and added unique aspects that created a whole new experience," Lloyd Webber added earlier this year. "It enjoyed remarkable success in Las Vegas, was enjoyed by millions of fans and proved that a timeless love story told in a fantastic theatre will always be in vogue."
According to the producers, "From the moment you enter the magnificent custom-built theatre you are immersed in the storied Paris Opera House and become part of The Phantom's world. Featuring every beloved Andrew Lloyd Webber song from the original, spectacular sets, new effects, and a breathtaking chandelier experience, Phantom is an only-in-Vegas experience."
Among the promises of the producers: more fireworks, a more immersive, environmental experience and a faster-than-ever crashing chandelier.
Back in spring 2006, the plush Vegas lair of musical theatre's most famous masked man faced construction delays, bumping the first preview of Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular from June 4 to June 12. The delay was related to the new $40 million building that was constructed exclusively for the show. David Rockwell, himself a Broadway scenic designer, designed the custom-built theatre.
Media night was June 23, followed by a June 24 gala opening night.
At the launch, the role of suggestible ingénue Christine was shared by Sierra Boggess (who later became a Broadway and London star in The Little Mermaid on Broadway and as Christine in Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera) and Elizabeth Loyacano (whose Broadway credits include Oklahoma! and The Woman in White).
"This is a rare chance to go back and re-visit a work of art some 20 years after it was created," Prince said at the time. "To be able to incorporate today's special effects and technical capabilities into the timeless music and story of Phantom [is] a great thrill."
For more information visit the official website at www.phantomlasvegas.com.
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