After 35 Years, ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Will Stop Haunting Broadway
Due to declining ticket sales, Broadway’s longest-running show will close this winter
This winter, the Phantom will haunt the Paris Opera House for the last time.
A Broadway fixture since 1988, The Phantom of the Opera will conclude its run on February 18, 2023. The gothic musical, which tells the story of a masked composer who haunts an opera house and becomes infatuated with a young, beautiful soprano, became Broadway’s longest-running show in 2006. It will close with a record 13,925 performances.
Throughout the course of its Broadway run, Phantom has sold 19.8 million tickets and grossed $1.3 billion. However, ticket sales began to fall during the pandemic. As an emblem of Broadway, the musical holds massive appeal for international travelers, producer Cameron Mackintosh tells the New York Times’ Michael Paulson. Many local fans, on the other hand, have already seen the show during its 35-year run. Meanwhile, production costs—which were already extravagant to begin with—have risen as a result of inflation.
Yet Phantom remains a sensation: Its upcoming Broadway closure has prompted ticket sales to skyrocket, bringing in $2 million within 24 hours of the announcement.
“You don’t want to run a great show into the ground,” Mackintosh, who has also produced Cats and Les Misérables, tells the Times. “It’s always been one of my mantras throughout my long career: There’s an art to closing a show, as well as opening one.”
The Phantom of the Opera is based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 French novel of the same name. Andrew Lloyd Webber, the acclaimed composer behind the music of Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats and School of Rock, wrote the music, which includes iconic numbers like “All I Ask of You” and “The Music of the Night.”
In 1986, the show debuted in London’s West End, and it opened at Broadway’s Majestic Theatre two years later. In 1988, the show won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Harold Prince won for his directing, and performers Michael Crawford (the Phantom) and Judy Kaye (Carlotta Guidicelli) won in the Best Actor and Best Featured Actress categories. In 2004, Joel Schumacher directed a film adaptation of Phantom.
The pandemic hit Broadway hard, with all of its theaters closing their doors for more than 18 months. Some mainstays—including Chicago, Hamilton, The Lion King and Wicked—have pulled off a successful comeback. Others, like Phantom, have not fared as well.
“I’m both sad and celebrating,” Mackintosh tells the Times. “It’s an extraordinary achievement, one of the greatest successes of all time. What is there not to celebrate about that?”
After Phantom closes in February, Chicago is in line to become the longest-running active Broadway show, having debuted its performance in 1996. The Lion King, which opened in 1997, is a close second; Wicked (2003) and The Book of Mormon (2011) follow.