At The Phantom of the Opera, the chandelier has fallen one final time, the monkey music box has played its final tune. That's because on April 16, Phantom played its last show on Broadway, after running for 35 years and almost 14,000 performances. And at the invite-only performance, it was a who’s who of current and former stars of the show. Sarah Brightman, Sierra Boggess, Meghan Picerno, and current leads Laird Mackintosh, Emilie Kouatchou, John Riddle—they all walked the pre-show red carpet.
But there was one opera ghost who was missing. The show’s original Phantom, Michael Crawford, was notably absent. It wasn’t because he was trying to pull a disappearing act. He did, in fact, leave a note. In a Facebook post, Crawford wrote that his absence was due to some “ill-timed emergency dental surgery.”
But even though he was not there in person, Crawford was there in spirit, wishing everyone “an unforgettable closing night,” and saying, “my heart is full of love and gratitude for everyone involved in this production including all who are celebrating tonight at the Majestic Theatre, and those from the original and truly special creative team and Broadway company who are no longer with us.”
See Crawford’s full remarks below.
Wishing the cast, crew, orchestra and alumni of The Phantom of the Opera an unforgettable closing night. Thank you for carrying on the legacy of this beautiful show for thirty-five years. Though I can't be there for the final performance due to ill-timed emergency dental surgery, my heart is full of love and gratitude for everyone involved in this production including all who are celebrating tonight at the Majestic Theatre, and those from the original and truly special creative team and Broadway company who are no longer with us.
What an amazing experience it was to work on such an extraordinary and magical piece of theatre.
It has given, I hope, audiences, for the last thirty-five years, an experience that will stay with them for years to come. I'm so grateful for the opportunity afforded me and I'm sad that I can't be there with you all for your last performance.
Much love to you all
Crawford was not the only Phantom sidelined this evening by a medical emergency. The show's current Phantom, Ben Crawford (no relation), was out of the show because of a bacterial infection. Laird Mackintosh played the role for the show's final performance.
Check back on Monday, April 17 for Playbill’s full coverage from the closing night of Phantom of the Opera.
The final Broadway company features Laird Mackintosh as the Phantom (filling in for principal Ben Crawford), Emilie Kouatchou as Christine, John Riddle as Raoul, Nehal Joshi as Monsieur André, Craig Bennett as Monsieur Firmin, Raquel Suarez Groen as Carlotta Giudicelli, Maree Johnson as Madame Giry, Carlton Moe as Ubaldo Piangi, and Sara Esty as Meg Giry. Julia Udine is the Christine alternate.
The final ensemble features Giselle O. Alvarez, Polly Baird, Janinah Burnett, Xiaoxiao Cao, Kanisha Marie Feliciano, David Michael Garry, Chris Georgetti, Kelly Jeanne Grant, Satomi Hofmann, Ayaka Kamei, Ted Keegan, Kfir, Kelly Loughran, Scott Mikita, Greg Mills, Trista Moldovan, Justin Peck, Richard Poole, Lindsay Roberts, Janet Saia, Paul Adam Schaefer, Carly Blake Sebouhian, Jeremy Stolle, Carrington Vilmont, Jim Weitzer, Elizabeth Welch, and Erica Wong.
The Phantom of the Opera has music by Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe), and a book by Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber. The production also features musical staging and choreography by Gillian Lynne, scenic and costume design by Maria Björnson, lighting design by Andrew Bridge, and sound design by Martin Levan with Caddick as music director. Cameron Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber's The Really Useful Group serve as producers. The late Harold Prince directed.
The complete Phantom orchestra—Broadway’s largest—also returned following the pandemic under the continued musical supervision of David Caddick with the musical’s original orchestrations.
The Broadway staging of the London-originated show won seven 1988 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Previews on Broadway began January 9, 1988, with an official opening January 26. The original Broadway cast featured Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, Judy Kaye, and the late Steve Barton.
The Phantom of the Opera became the longest-running show in Broadway history January 9, 2006, when it surpassed the nearly 18-year run of Cats. The production’s nearly 14,000 performances have been seen by 19.5 million people and grossed $1.3 billion. Phantom has been the largest single generator of income and jobs in Broadway and U.S. theatrical history. In the New York production alone, an estimated 6,500 people (including 450 actors) were employed during its more than three-decade run.
After tonight's performance, those wishing Phantom were somehow here again, fear not. Producer Mackintosh recently told Variety that "of course it will return. All the great musicals do." But for the time being, we will think of Phantom very fondly.