Broadway's long-running juggernaut is poised to complete its historic, 35-year run at the Majestic Theatre, but according to a new interview with producer Cameron Mackintosh, we haven't seen the true end of the show just yet. "Of course it will return," Mackintosh tells Variety. "All the great musicals do," later saying, "[t]here’ll be a tour at some point too."
Mackintosh is being slightly coy, but a return for Phantom—in some form—falls easily in line with the producer's strategy for his other mega-hit West End transfer musicals, including Cats, Les Misérables, and Miss Saigon. All three were long-runners on Broadway that closed but later returned in new productions of varying difference from their original forms.
In the years since Les Misérables' original Broadway production closed in 2003, the Claude-Michel Schönberg-Alain Boublil musical returned in a downsized version of the original in 2006. In 2014, the show was back again for a longer run and a completely new production. Both of these Broadway revivals originated as tours. The latter production has since replaced the original staging in London's West End as well. Miss Saigon ended its original West End run in 1999 and said goodbye to Broadway in 2001. That title, also by Schönberg and Boublil, returned to London's West End in 2014 in a completely new production that itself transferred to Broadway in 2017.
Mackintosh's Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals have fared slightly differently. Cats' original West End run finished in 2002, and the Broadway run shuttered in 2000. Though the musical was more or less always touring in the interim, a West End revival was mounted in 2014 with minimal changes to the original production. This production inspired a Broadway return in 2016 with more substantial changes, most notably new choreography from Hamilton Tony winner Andy Blankenbuehler.
Phantom of the Opera, on the other hand, launched a completely new touring production while both the original Broadway and West End runs were still active, in 2012. Though this version used Maria Björnson's original costume design, the production's scenic design was completely new, as was the reduced orchestration. This version of the show has toured both the U.S. and Europe.
Phantom's original West End production technically closed during the COVID-19 shut-down, but the show still resumed performances in July 2021. Though London's current Phantom has been described by Lloyd Webber as "substantially identical" to the original staging, the production features a number of revisions, including the removal of Björnson's sculptures covering the sides of the proscenium (the scenic revisions are by Matt Kinley), the changing of the levitating Angel to a Pegasus to better match the real Paris Opera House, a dramatic reduction of the number of players in the orchestra, and more. It is expected that this version is what we are most likely to see in the U.S. when and if the show returns, either as a tour and-or on Broadway.
Nevertheless, April 16 is indeed theatregoers' final chance to see the full, original Broadway production of The Phantom of the Opera as it opened in 1988.