After 35 years, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera took its final curtain call on Sunday night at the Majestic Theatre in New York. This was show No. 13,981 of the longest-running show in Broadway history and was dedicated by Lloyd Webber to his son Nicholas who died last month after a battle with gastric cancer.
Amid a standing ovation, Webber said, “I hope you won’t mind if I dedicate this performance to my son, Nick.” Turning to original Phantom star, Sarah Brightman, the composer recalled, “When Nick was a little boy, he heard some of this music.”
Said Brightman, “Yes, he did. When Andrew was writing it, he was right there. So his soul is with us. Nick, we love you very much.”
Also on Sunday night, Brightman performed the musical’s most famous song, “The Music of the Night,” along with current cast, previous actors and crew members, according to the Daily Mail.
After the show, Lloyd Webber commented, “Thank you to absolutely everyone who has made this extraordinary run possible… It is just amazing really what has happened, and in the last few months I don’t think any of us thought that Phantom would go out quite with the bang it has.”
That was likely a reference to the phenomenal sell-out business Phantom has done of late, topping the box office chart again in the week before Easter with over $3.6M.
Quipped Lloyd Webber, “So it may come back, you never know.” He added, “What I would like to say is if it was going to go out with a bang it couldn’t have gone out with a better performance.”
Producers announced last September that the show would be closing, originally in February, but then with a two-month extension to yesterday. The average ticket price back in September was about $83; in the run-up to Easter, it was $279.37.
With music by Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart and a libretto by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe, and produced by Cameron Mackintosh and The Really Useful Group, Phantom opened in London’s West End in 1986 and, two years later, on Broadway, with direction by Harold Prince. The musical made stars of, or at least cemented the theater legacy, of Michael Crawford, as the Phantom, and Webber’s then-wife Brightman as Christine. Among the records set by the musical over the years is first Broadway production to hit 10,000 performances (in 2012). Reported estimates of the Broadway productions grosses over the years exceed $1 billion.
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