John Brunning 10am - 1pm
La Nuit et L'amour Augusta Holmes
Busker shocked as real-life West End Christine joins him for stunning ‘Phantom of the Opera’ duet
23 February 2022, 12:39 | Updated: 23 February 2022, 17:20
Celinde Schoenmaker duets with busker Stephen Barry in Covent Garden London 10 Nov 2016
By Sophia Alexandra Hall
The West End Christine astonished shoppers when she stopped to duet with a local busker...
Listen to this article
In 2016, Irish singer, Stephen Barry, was stood on the end of James Street in Covent Garden London busking to an audience with a microphone and sound system.
He had just finished performing a song from the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, Phantom of the Opera when he was approached by a woman who asked if he would sing ‘All I Ask of You’, another song from the hit musical.
Barry, who would go on to become a finalist in Ireland’s Got Talent , replied that he couldn’t sing two songs in a row from the same musical.
The woman responded, “If you sing it, I’ll sing with you”. Barry looked sceptical and asked the young woman if she was any good.
To which the woman, Celinde Schoenmaker, responded, “I’m currently playing Christine in the West End production”.
Read more: These Vivaldi buskers in Covent Garden perfectly capture the ecstasy of live performance
Schoenmaker made her West End debut in 2013 as one of the main characters, Fantine in the musical, Les Misérables .
The Dutch actress and singer joined the cast of Phantom of the Opera in 2015 as Christine, and performed alongside Ben Forster as the Phantom a year later in the show's 30th Anniversary performance.
It was just a few months after this performance that she encountered Barry in the shopping district, just a ten minute walk from Her Majesty’s Theatre, which had staged Phantom, at that time, for the past 30 years.
Barry is noticeably moved by Schoenmaker’s decision to join him in song, and places his hand on his heart during the moving duet. The pair also high-five and share a hug at the end of the performance.
Read more: West End’s Phantom of the Opera slices orchestra in half, leaving musicians without a job
All I Ask Of You | Phantom London Orchestra
Barry has since gone on to appear in theatre himself, performing in The Choir Of Man , a show which combines pub tunes, folk, rock, choral and Broadway numbers.
He currently sings aboard cruise ships around the Caribbean, sharing his musical adventures across his social media @stephensings1 .
Stephen Barry STUNS Judges with his INCREDIBLE Big Voice
Lloyd Webber latest
See more Lloyd Webber latest
10 best musicals by Andrew Lloyd Webber – ranked
The transformative free musical instrument scheme that andrew lloyd webber wants in every secondary school, andrew lloyd webber facts: wife, children, musicals and the composer’s most famous songs, definitively the best songs from andrew lloyd webber musicals, andrew lloyd webber slams education disparity: ‘only 12 percent of state schools have an orchestra’, 14-year-old chorister malakai bayoh, signed to pavarotti’s label, releases first single ‘pie jesu’, best classical music.
See more Best classical music
The 15 most famous tunes in classical music
The 15 greatest symphonies of all time
The 4 eras of classical music: a quick guide, the 25 greatest conductors of all time, 30 of the greatest classical music composers of all time, the 25 best pianists of all time, latest on classic fm, star organist anna lapwood awarded mbe in 2024 new year honours, what’s the difference between a symphony and a philharmonic orchestra, ‘o holy night’ voted the nation’s favourite carol in our annual christmas music poll, kanneh-mason family duo play evocative ‘in the bleak midwinter’ in london’s oldest surviving church, soprano effortlessly sings jaw-dropping handel ‘messiah’ aria from church pulpit, when the real-life von trapp great grandchildren sang a breathtaking, impromptu ‘edelweiss’, leonard bernstein’s music: 10 best works by the american maestro.
What classical music is featured in Bradley Cooper’s Bernstein biopic ‘Maestro’?
When leonard bernstein needed only his eyebrows to conduct the vienna philharmonic, audience member conducts ‘sleigh ride’, stealing the show in joyful moment.
A Busker Was Singing On The Street When He Is Unexpectedly Joined By 'Phantom Of The Opera' Actress For A Duet
A chance encounter between street busker Stephen Barry and singer and actress Celinde Schoenmaker quickly turned into a performance of a lifetime.
Want more videos like this?
Sign up for our afternoon round-up to get the best videos of the day delivered.
Sign in to your Digg account.
Sign in with Twitter
Sign in with Google
Not a member yet? Sign up
👋 Welcome to Digg
Thanks for creating an account! Your accounts lets you Digg (upvote) stories, save stories to revisit later, and more.
🎉 You’re all set!
Enjoy your new account! As a reminder, you can change your profile and email settings in your profile.
Return to browsing View account
Get started by creating an account.
Sign up with Twitter
Sign up with Google
Already have an account? Sign in
We have updated our Terms of Service to clarify your and our rights and responsibilities related to your use of our services.
Please review and click "OK" to agree to these updated documents.
Irish busker sings STUNNING duet with major West End star
Steve Barry was singing songs from the musicals in London's Covent Garden when he was approached by a woman to sing a duet.
The song she wanted to perform was 'All I Ask Of You' from Phantom of the Opera.
Weary from randomers looking to perform with him, Steve was inclined to say no, when she suddenly volunteered some surprising information.
On his Youtube page the Tralee native wrote: 'Busking in Covent Garden one evening, when a lady (who was pretty easy on the eye to be fair) in the audience asked me to sing 'All I Ask of You'.
'I had just sung a number from Phantom of the Opera.
'With my most withering, scathing tone I informed her I can't be doing two Phantom songs in a row (like duh). She replied with 'if you do I'll sing it with you'.'
'Given my previous duet earlier that set was an enforced rendition of Flower of Scotland with a drunken Scotsman in a kilt I set my gaze to highly skeptical.
'Obvs I asked if she was any good - at which stage she casually dropped in 'I'm currently Christine in Phantom at her Majesty's (Theatre).''
'When I removed my foot from my mouth….we did this…'
His singing partner turned out to be Celinde Schoenmaker who made her West End debut in 2013 in the role of 'Fantine' in 'Les Misérables' at the Queen's Theatre in London.
She won the role of 'Christine' in Phantom of the Opera in September 2015.
Steve is currently busking and working at a gym in between auditions but, with that voice, we reckon it's only a matter of time before he's a West End star himself!
Steal Her Style: Land yourself on the best dressed list with Niamh de Brún's dress
'I love looking back' Jess Redden continues her late dad's sweet tradition
Ben Foden and Una Healy's children have a fun-filled Christmas in the US
Expert tips, advice & guidance take the stress out of buying your first home at this free event for first-time buyers.
'I love you so much' Holly Ramsay's boyfriend reveals tattoo tribute to her
Beauty Review: The best skincare and makeup launches of 2023
'He couldn't stop smiling' Is Ant McPartlin set to become a dad for the first time at 48?
Surprise! Former RTÉ correspondent Martina Fitzgerald marries partner Kevin
Scarlett Moffatt is sitting pretty after amassing huge fortune in 2023
Glenda Gilson sparkles at Christmas wedding in designer LBD and fun heels
10 Surprising Facts about The Phantom of The Opera Casts
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s beloved musical ends its historic 36-year Broadway run on April 16.
After more than 36 years, the curtain will close on The Phantom of the Opera this weekend, as the longest-running show in Broadway history will have its final performance on April 16.
Set in 1919, The Phantom of the Opera tells the story of the beautiful soprano Christine Daaé, who is both seduced and terrorized by a masked phantom living in the shadows of the Paris Opéra House. The musical has long enchanted audiences and turned songs like “Music of the Night,” “All I Ask of You,” and the title song into Broadway classics.
There are 130 cast, crew, and orchestra members involved in each performance of Phantom , and countless actors have appeared in the show over its nearly four-decade run. These are just some of the stories and facts from those Broadway casts.
There have been 52 leading actors.
In total, 16 actors have portrayed the titular Phantom on Broadway, while 36 actors have played Christine Daaé. Michael Crawford originated the role of the Phantom in 1988, winning the Tony Award for his performance. Sarah Brightman first portrayed Christine. The celebrated soprano was married to Andrew Lloyd Webber at the time.
Emilie Kouatchou is the first Black actress to play Christine.
Emilie Kouatchou, who plays the current and final incarnation of Christine Daaé on Broadway, made history as the first Black actor to play the part. She began as an alternate when the show reopened after the COVID-19 pandemic closures in the fall of 2021 and was promoted to the full-time role in January 2022.
“ Phantom was the first show I ever saw on Broadway,” Kouatchou said . “I sat in the nosebleed seats, and I didn’t see much, but I remembered the masks at the end and that beautiful image, and it’s kind of beautiful that it came full circle. [Now] I’m actually on stage doing it. It’s crazy.”
Broadway’s first Black Phantom was Norm Lewis.
Seven years before Kouatchou joined the cast, Norm Lewis was the first Black actor to play the Phantom on Broadway, joining the cast in May 2014. Robert Guillaume was the first Black man to play the role in any production, having succeeded Michael Crawford in the part in a Los Angeles production in 1990.
“Andrew Lloyd Webber even said that this is a game changer and that there will probably be more opportunities for other minorities to be a part of this show,” Lewis said in 2015 . “And [it will] also let other producers and other creative people see this is an opportunity for other Blacks who have the same talent to be leads in shows, especially if it doesn’t deal with race.”
Michael Crawford prepared for the wrong part before his audition.
When Webber first approached Crawford about The Phantom of the Opera , Crawford assumed he would be auditioning for the part of Raoul , the clean-cut nobleman who also vies for Christine’s affections. Crawford spent a year studying Nelson Eddy’s portrayal as Raoul in the 1943 film adaptation of Phantom before realizing Steve Barton had already been cast in that part for the Broadway production and he was intended to be the lead.
A British rocker almost played the Phantom.
While developing the show, Webber wrote the title song “Phantom of the Opera” as a pop single and created a music video featuring Brightman as Christine and British rock star Steve Harley as the Phantom. Harley was favored to play the lead role on Broadway, but the music video was seen as over-the-top, and the producers feared Harley didn’t have the acting experience to carry a show, so they went with Crawford instead, according to the documentary Behind the Mask.
Howard McGillin is the longest-running Phantom.
Nobody has played the Phantom more often than Howard McGillin. With more than 2,500 performances, he holds the record for playing the title role on Broadway. He was playing the role when Phantom broke the record for the longest-running Broadway production in 2006. “It was exhausting, because he’s such a maniac, but it was a thrill to sing that music every night and to have that audience response,” McGillin said .
This cast member set a world record for most performances.
Although McGillin has played the Phantom the most often, he doesn’t even come close to having appeared in the most Phantom of the Opera productions. That honor belongs to George Lee Andrews, who played the supporting role of opera house co-owner Monsieur André an incredible 9,382 times over 23 years before departing from the role in 2011. He holds the Guinness World Record for most performances in a single Broadway show.
Hamilton led the way for a more diverse Phantom cast.
Ali Ewoldt, who is of Filipino descent, was the first Asian American and first woman of color to play Christine Daaé. By the time she joined the cast in 2016, she was already a veteran stage actor and singer, having made her Broadway debut as Cosette in the Les Misérables revival in 2006. She also performed in national tours of The King and I and West Side Story .
Ewoldt credited Lin-Manuel Miranda ’s smash-hit musical Hamilton with inspiring other Broadway shows to consider more diverse casts : “I think that that really has proved to people that it doesn’t matter anymore. Storytellers are storytellers, and great actors can tell all sorts of stories, so I think it’s really exciting for the Broadway community to have all these opportunities.”
Two Phantom actors had wardrobe malfunctions.
Although the Phantom wears his iconic white mask for most of the musical, he is dramatically unmasked at several points in the show, revealing a hideously disfigured face. The makeup for these scenes has led to some memorable mistakes in the past: Two different Phantom actors—Crawford and Hugh Panaro—have gotten their lip prosthetics stuck to the actor playing Christine during a kiss scene.
One Phantom and Christine pair tied the knot.
Gary Mauer and Elizabeth Southard, who have played the Phantom and Christine several times together during the show’s United States tours, are married to each other in real life. Mauer had played Raoul on Broadway as well, and Southard was a Christine understudy and played other minor roles alongside him. They have two children together.
Colin McEvoy joined the Biography.com staff in 2023, and before that had spent 16 years as a journalist, writer, and communications professional. He is the author of two true crime books: Love Me or Else and Fatal Jealousy . He is also an avid film buff, reader, and lover of great stories.
Fans React to Jonathan Majors Being Fired From MCU
Inside Matthew Perry’s Lifelong Addiction Struggle
- Skip to main content
- Keyboard shortcuts for audio player
'Phantom of the Opera' takes a final Broadway bow after 13,981 performances
John Riddle as Raoul, Laird Mackintosh as the Phantom and Emilie Kouatchou as Christine, take a bow at the end of the final performance of the Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater in New York City on April 16, 2023. Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
John Riddle as Raoul, Laird Mackintosh as the Phantom and Emilie Kouatchou as Christine, take a bow at the end of the final performance of the Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic Theater in New York City on April 16, 2023.
On Sunday night, April 16, the curtain will fall on the longest-running show in Broadway history. The Phantom of the Opera , Andrew Lloyd Webber's mega hit musical, is closing after more than 35 years.
The stats are absolutely staggering – since it opened on Broadway in January of 1988, Phantom has played almost 14,000 performances to audiences of over 20 million, grossing over $1.3 billion. An estimated 6,500 people have been employed by the production – including over 400 actors – and it takes a cast, orchestra and crew of 125 to put on the show. On Monday, it will all be over.
"I got the gig of a lifetime. There's no other way to describe it," says Richard Poole, who's been a member of the ensemble, playing small roles, for almost 25 years. "It's given me the ability to have security, to plan ahead," says Poole. "It gives me discipline and structure in my life, and it gives me a constant way to maintain my craft."
Steve Barton (from left), Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman during the curtain call at the end of the premiere performance of The Phantom of the Opera on Jan. 26, 1988 at New York's Majestic Theatre. Ed Bailey/AP hide caption
Musician Joyce Hammann has been at the show even longer than Poole: "I'm concertmaster at Phantom of the Opera , which is first violin. And holy moly, I've been there 33 and a half years." Hammann is one of several members of the orchestra to have a "Phantom baby" – her son, Jackson just turned 18. "This has been his home away from home," she says. "People [here] have watched him grow up. He had the pleasure of sitting backstage during Saturday matinees sometimes when I wasn't able to get a babysitter."
The Phantom of the Opera , for those who've never seen it, is the story of a disfigured genius who haunts the Paris Opera House, pining away for a young soprano, Christine, who's in love with a dashing count. People die, a chandelier crashes to the stage, but love kinda triumphs ... all set to a sweeping romantic score.
25 Years Strong, 'Phantom Of The Opera' Kills And Kills Again
"I was very keen to write something which was a high romance at the time, having done Evita and having done Cats and various things, which ... didn't let me ... go in that direction at all," Lloyd Webber recalled in 2013, for the show's 25 th anniversary on Broadway. When he read Gaston Leroux's novel, he found the vehicle and collaborated with Richard Stilgoe and Charles Hart on the adaptation, directed by Hal Prince.
"I think the enduring appeal is because it's so romantic and because audiences escape into it," the late director said for the 25 th anniversary. "It has a world of its own. And whatever problems they have out on the street and in their daily lives, they come in here and it's like a little kid tripping on a fairy tale or something. Only this is a slightly dangerous one. But the point is, I think that they escape from reality for a couple of hours and in a romantic world."
'phantom of the opera': 20 years in the pit.
"The Phantom being misunderstood, I think is a big symbol for a lot of people," says Ben Crawford, who now has the distinction of being the last Phantom to haunt the Majestic Theatre on Broadway. [Ed. Note: Laird Mackintosh played the Phantom at the final performance on Sunday, April 16, filling in for Crawford who was ill.] Like other Phantoms before him, he has a special relationship with the Phans who've visited the show over and over. Some even send him their own artwork. "They saw that I had dinosaurs in my room," he says, "because when I play with my kids on FaceTime, my son loves dinosaurs, so they 3D printed this velociraptor that's, like, in a tuxedo with a phantom mask. And it came to my dressing room in a box with, like, holes in it so it could breathe."
But even the longest running show in Broadway history has to close at some point. Producer Cameron Mackintosh says Phantom was losing money, even before the pandemic. So, last September, he and Andrew Lloyd Webber announced a final date. "The following week, we were profitable for the first time," Mackintosh said in a phone interview from London. "So, you know, it was the right decision to take at the right time. And, you know, I think people's memory now is back with people saying Phantom of the Opera is one of the great successes of all time, which is what one always prays when a great show finishes."
Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!
Not my job: we quiz t-pain on 'the phantom of the opera'.
So, Phantom is going out with a bang – it's been selling out again. Music supervisor and conductor David Caddick has been around since the very beginning – he was music director for a staged reading on Andrew Lloyd Webber's estate back in 1984. He's conducting the final performances on Broadway. "I simply don't know how I'll feel on the morning of the 17th of April," Caddick says. "At the moment, it's about maintaining what we have: keeping the show vibrant. I still give notes to the actors, to the orchestra. We will look to maintain every element of the production through to the very last note."
There are plans for some surprises at the final curtain call. Actor Richard Poole says the closing is bittersweet. " I was retiring anyway," he says. "So, I have a very enviable spot in my life in the fact that I had something to go to, which was nothing!" For the other 124 people employed by The Phantom of the Opera , it's time to find a new gig.
The Phantom of the Opera marquee is shown above on April 13, 2023, at the Majestic Theater in New York City. The final performance will be on Sunday, April 16. Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images hide caption
Steve Barton; Played Raoul in Original Cast of ‘Phantom’
- Show more sharing options
- Copy Link URL Copied!
Steve Barton, 47, who played Raoul in the original production of “The Phantom of the Opera,” died Saturday of sudden heart failure in Bremen, Germany, where he was making a recording.
As Raoul, Barton played the young aristocrat who vies with the Phantom for the hand of Christine in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. He appeared in the London premiere in 1986 and again in the New York premiere in 1988. He also briefly played the role in 1991 at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles, temporarily replacing an injured actor.
For the record:
12:00 a.m. July 26, 2001 FOR THE RECORD Los Angeles Times Thursday July 26, 2001 Home Edition Part A Part A Page 2 A2 Desk 1 inches; 20 words Type of Material: Correction Composer’s name--The name of Jule Styne, composer of “The Red Shoes,” was misspelled in an obituary of actor Steve Barton in Wednesday’s Times.
In 1990, Barton took over the musical’s title role for nine months on Broadway.
Born in Arkansas, Barton attended the University of Texas but spent most of his pre-”Phantom” career in Europe. He played the lead in a short-lived Jule Style musical, “The Red Shoes,” on Broadway in 1993.
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
More From the Los Angeles Times
Entertainment & Arts
The Huntington was gifted four major paintings this year. They fit like a glove
Dec. 28, 2023
COVID-19 kept us apart. How two New York performance spaces are bringing us back together
Dec. 26, 2023
L.A. comedian Neel Nanda dies, just days after 32nd birthday
Dec. 24, 2023
Netflix has ‘Maestro’ mania. But for this music critic, the essence of Lenny is missing
Dec. 22, 2023
- Share full article
Stage: 'Phantom of the Opera'
By Frank Rich
- Jan. 27, 1988
IT may be possible to have a terrible time at ''The Phantom of the Opera,'' but you'll have to work at it. Only a terminal prig would let the avalanche of pre-opening publicity poison his enjoyment of this show, which usually wants nothing more than to shower the audience with fantasy and fun, and which often succeeds, at any price.
It would be equally ludicrous, however - and an invitation to severe disappointment - to let the hype kindle the hope that ''Phantom'' is a credible heir to the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals that haunt both Andrew Lloyd Webber's creative aspirations and the Majestic Theater as persistently as the evening's title character does. What one finds instead is a characteristic Lloyd Webber project - long on pop professionalism and melody, impoverished of artistic personality and passion - that the director Harold Prince, the designer Maria Bjornson and the mesmerizing actor Michael Crawford have elevated quite literally to the roof. ''The Phantom of the Opera'' is as much a victory of dynamic stagecraft over musical kitsch as it is a triumph of merchandising uber alles.
As you've no doubt heard, ''Phantom'' is Mr. Lloyd Webber's first sustained effort at writing an old-fashioned romance between people instead of cats or trains. The putative lovers are the Paris Opera House phantom (Mr. Crawford) and a chorus singer named Christine Daae (Sarah Brightman). But Mr. Crawford's moving portrayal of the hero notwithstanding, the show's most persuasive love story is Mr. Prince's and Ms. Bjornson's unabashed crush on the theater itself, from footlights to dressing rooms, from flies to trap doors.
A gothic backstage melodrama, ''Phantom'' taps right into the obsessions of the designer and the director. At the Royal Shakespeare Company, Ms. Bjornson was a wizard of darkness, monochromatic palettes and mysterious grand staircases. Mr. Prince, a prince of darkness in his own right, is the master of the towering bridge (''Evita''), the labyrinthine inferno (''Sweeney Todd'') and the musical-within-the-musical (''Follies''). In ''Phantom,'' the creative personalities of these two artists merge with a literal lightning flash at the opening coup de theatre, in which the auditorium is transformed from gray decrepitude to the gold-and-crystal Second Empire glory of the Paris Opera House. Though the sequence retreads the famous Ziegfeld palace metamorphosis in ''Follies,'' Ms. Bjornson's magical eye has allowed Mr. Prince to reinvent it, with electrifying showmanship.
The physical production, Andrew Bridge's velvety lighting included, is a tour de force throughout - as extravagant of imagination as of budget. Ms. Bjornson drapes the stage with layers of Victorian theatrical curtains - heavily tasseled front curtains, fire curtains, backdrops of all antiquated styles - and then constantly shuffles their configurations so we may view the opera house's stage from the perspective of its audience, the performers or the wings. For an added lift, we visit the opera-house roof, with its cloud-swept view of a twinkling late-night Paris, and the subterreanean lake where the Phantom travels by gondola to a baroque secret lair that could pass for the lobby of Grauman's Chinese Theater. The lake, awash in dry-ice fog and illuminated by dozens of candelabra, is a masterpiece of campy phallic Hollywood iconography - it's Liberace's vision of hell.
There are horror-movie special effects, too, each elegantly staged and unerringly paced by Mr. Prince. The imagery is so voluptuous that one can happily overlook the fact that the book (by the composer and Richard Stilgoe) contains only slightly more plot than ''Cats,'' with scant tension or suspense. This ''Phantom,'' more skeletal but not briefer than other adaptations of the 1911 Gaston Leroux novel, is simply a beast-meets-beauty, loses-beauty story, attenuated by the digressions of disposable secondary characters (the liveliest being Judy Kaye's oft-humiliated diva) and by Mr. Lloyd Webber's unchecked penchant for forcing the show to cool its heels while he hawks his wares.
In Act II, the heroine travels to her father's grave for no reason other than to sell an extraneous ballad whose tepid greeting-card sentiments (''Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again'') dispel the evening's smoldering mood. The musical's dramatic thrust is further slowed by three self-indulgently windy opera parodies -in which the sophisticated tongue-in-cheek wit of Ms. Bjornson's sumptuous period sets and costumes is in no way matched by Gillian Lynne's repetitive, presumably satirical ballet choreography or by Mr. Lloyd Webber's tiresome collegiate jokes at the expense of such less than riotous targets as Meyerbeer.
Aside from the stunts and set changes, the evening's histrionic peaks are Mr. Crawford's entrances - one of which is the slender excuse for Ms. Bjornson's most dazzling display of Technicolor splendor, the masked ball (''Masquerade'') that opens Act II. Mr. Crawford's appearances are eagerly anticipated, not because he's really scary but because his acting gives ''Phantom'' most of what emotional heat it has. His face obscured by a half-mask - no minor impediment - Mr. Crawford uses a booming, expressive voice and sensuous hands to convey his desire for Christine. His Act I declaration of love, ''The Music of the Night'' - in which the Phantom calls on his musical prowess to bewitch the heroine -proves as much a rape as a seduction. Stripped of the mask an act later to wither into a crestfallen, sweaty, cadaverous misfit, he makes a pitiful sight while clutching his beloved's discarded wedding veil. Those who visit the Majestic expecting only to applaud a chandelier - or who have 20-year-old impressions of Mr. Crawford as the lightweight screen juvenile of ''The Knack'' and ''Hello, Dolly!'' - will be stunned by the force of his Phantom.
It's deflating that the other constituents of the story's love triangle don't reciprocate his romantic or sexual energy. The icily attractive Ms. Brightman possesses a lush soprano by Broadway standards (at least as amplified), but reveals little competence as an actress. After months of playing ''Phantom'' in London, she still simulates fear and affection alike by screwing her face into bug-eyed, chipmunk-cheeked poses more appropriate to the Lon Chaney film version. Steve Barton, as the Vicomte who lures her from the beast, is an affable professional escort with unconvincingly bright hair.
Thanks to the uniform strength of the voices - and the soaring, Robert Russell Bennett-style orchestrations - Mr. Lloyd Webber's music is given every chance to impress. There are some lovely tunes, arguably his best yet, and, as always, they are recycled endlessly: if you don't leave the theater humming the songs, you've got a hearing disability. But the banal lyrics, by Charles Hart and Mr. Stilgoe, prevent the score's prettiest music from taking wing. The melodies don't find shape as theater songs that might touch us by giving voice to the feelings or actions of specific characters.
Instead, we get numbing, interchangeable pseudo-Hammersteinisms like ''Say you'll love me every waking moment'' or ''Think of me, think of me fondly, when we say goodbye.'' With the exception of ''Music of the Night'' - which seems to express from its author's gut a desperate longing for acceptance - Mr. Lloyd Webber has again written a score so generic that most of the songs could be reordered and redistributed among the characters (indeed, among other Lloyd Webber musicals) without altering the show's story or meaning. The one attempt at highbrow composing, a noisy and gratuitous septet called ''Prima Donna,'' is unlikely to take a place beside the similar Broadway operatics of Bernstein, Sondheim or Loesser.
Yet for now, if not forever, Mr. Lloyd Webber is a genuine phenomenon - not an invention of the press or ticket scalpers - and ''Phantom'' is worth seeing not only for its punch as high-gloss entertainment but also as a fascinating key to what the phenomenon is about. Mr. Lloyd Webber's esthetic has never been more baldly stated than in this show, which favors the decorative trappings of art over the troublesome substance of culture and finds more eroticism in rococo opulence and conspicuous consumption than in love or sex. Mr. Lloyd Webber is a creature, perhaps even a prisoner, of his time; with ''The Phantom of the Opera,'' he remakes La Belle Epoque in the image of our own Gilded Age. If by any chance this musical doesn't prove Mr. Lloyd Webber's most popular, it won't be his fault, but another sign that times are changing and that our boom era, like the opera house's chandelier, is poised to go bust. Mask Appeal THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, adapted from the novel by Gaston Leroux; music by Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics by Charles Hart; additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe; book by Mr. Stilgoe and Mr. Lloyd Webber; musical staging and choreography by Gillian Lynne; directed by Harold Prince; production design by Maria Bjornson; lighting by Andrew Bridge; sound by Martin Levan; musical supervision and direction by David Caddick; orchestrations by David Cullen and Mr. Lloyd Webber. Presented by Cameron Mackintosh and
The Really Useful Theater Company Inc. At the Majestic Theater, 247 West 44th
Street. The Phantom of the Opera...Michael Crawford Christine Daae...Sarah Brightman Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny...Steve Barton Carlotta Guidicelli...Judy Kaye M. Andre...Cris Groenendaal M. Firmin...Nicholas Wyman Mme. Giry...Leila Martin Ubaldo Piangi...David Romano Meg Giry...Elisa Heinsohn M. Reyer...Peter Kevoian Auctioneer...Richard Warren Pugh Porter/Marksman...Jeff Keller M. Lefevre...Kenneth Waller Joseph Buquet...Philip Steele Don Attilio...George Lee Andrews Solo Dancer...Luis Perez Slave Master...Gregory Mitchell Flunky/Stagehand...Barry McNabb Policeman...Charles Rule Page...Olga Talyn Porter/Fireman...William Scott Brown Page...Candace Rogers-Adler Wardrobe Mistress/Confidante Mary Leigh Stahl Princess...Rebecca Luker Mme. Firmin...Beth McVey Innkeeper's Wife...Jan Horvath The Ballet Chorus of the Opera Populaire Irene Cho, Nicole Fosse, Lisa Lockwood, Lori MacPherson, Dodie Petit and Catherine Ulissey
- Cast & crew
- User reviews
The Phantom of the Opera
A young soprano becomes the obsession of a disfigured and murderous musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opéra House. A young soprano becomes the obsession of a disfigured and murderous musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opéra House. A young soprano becomes the obsession of a disfigured and murderous musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opéra House.
- Joel Schumacher
- Gaston Leroux
- Andrew Lloyd Webber
- Gerard Butler
- Emmy Rossum
- Patrick Wilson
- 2.1K User reviews
- 110 Critic reviews
- 40 Metascore
- 7 wins & 42 nominations total
- The Phantom
- Madame Giry
- (as Kevin R. McNally)
- Carlotta's Maid
- Carlotta's Wigmaker
- Carlotta's Seamstress
- All cast & crew
- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
More like this
Did you know
- Trivia In April 2004, an audience of the stage version of "The Phantom of the Opera" in London was asked to stay behind at the end and record the sound effects for the chandelier crash in the movie.
- Goofs When Raoul is on his way down the stairs to the Phantom's lair, he falls through a hole, down into a pit of water. Iron bars then lower from above, but since Raoul fell straight down into the water, it would be impossible for the bars to be there.
[as he leads Christine down the tunnels of the opera]
The Phantom : [sings] Sing once again with me our strange duet. / My power over you grows stronger yet. / And though you turn from me to glance behind, / The Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your mind.
- Connections Featured in HBO First Look: The Phantom of the Opera (2004)
- Soundtracks Auction at the Opera Populaire, 1919 (Prologue) Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber , Charles Hart , and Richard Stilgoe Performed by Patrick Wilson Produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber , Nigel Wright , Joel Schumacher , Simon Lee , and Guy de Villiers
User reviews 2.1K
- Jun 27, 2006
- What is 'Phantom of the Opera' about?
- Is this an opera?
- What does "Hand at the level of your eyes" mean?
- January 21, 2005 (United States)
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Central Partnership (Russia)
- Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera
- London, England, UK
- Warner Bros.
- Odyssey Entertainment
- Really Useful Films
- See more company credits at IMDbPro
- $70,000,000 (estimated)
- Dec 26, 2004
- Runtime 2 hours 23 minutes
- Black and White
- Dolby Digital
Contribute to this page.
- See more gaps
- Learn more about contributing
More to explore
Discover the real history behind 'The Phantom of the Opera'
Learn about the myths and legends that inspired the classic musical.
The Phantom of the Opera is there, inside your... history book? He could be, or at least inside a book of legends. The story of a masked, disfigured Paris Opera House dweller who puts an ingenue under his musical spell sounds like the stuff of myths. But stories of a chandelier crash and a ghost at the opera house in Paris circulated long before The Phantom of the Opera , now set to close in February 2023, became the longest-running Broadway show and third-longest-running West End show in history.
Compoer Andrew Lloyd Webber based the show on a 1910 novel of the same name by Gaston Leroux. And he based his novel on multiple spooky events in the Palais Garnier, the opera house where the Phantom book and musical are set.
Some of the stories of people, places, and events that inspired The Phantom of the Opera are true. Others are probably not, but they're fun legends that Leroux immortalized and Webber later made famous with his iconic score. While no one knows exactly how true these stories are, here's how they inspired Leroux to create the tale that haunts and thrills audiences over a century later, and how Webber made them his own.
Experience these tales now before The Phantom of the Opera closes on Broadway.
Get The Phantom of the Opera tickets now.
Is The Phantom of the Opera based on a true story?
Yes and no — the plot of The Phantom of the Opera is fictional, but parts are inspired by true stories and legends. While everything in the musical did not actually happen, many elements of the show (and the novel it's based on) are taken from real stories of what happened at a Paris opera house. For example, there was actually a devastating chandelier accident, and there are many rumors of a ghostly presence haunting the theatre.
Read more below to find out what true (and ghost) stories inspired the record-breaking show, and see them on stage before The Phantom of the Opera closes.
The chandelier crash in Phantom was inspired by a true event.
The Act 1 finale, during which a one-ton chandelier comes crashing down onto the stage, is one of the most iconic moments in The Phantom of the Opera musical. It's thrilling to watch live, and it was inspired by a real tragedy at the Palais Garnier. Contrary to popular belief, though, it wasn't actually the chandelier that fell. On May 20, 1896, a performance of the opera Helle was underway when a counterweight, one of multiple which held the chandelier up, broke loose and fell through the ceiling.
One person was killed, and several others were injured. Forensic investigators later said a nearby electrical wire probably overheated and melted the steel cable holding up the counterweight, causing its fall. In The Phantom of the Opera book and musical, the Phantom cuts the whole chandelier loose during the curtain call of the opera Il Muto , in order to exact revenge on Christine for falling in love with Raoul instead of him. Luckily, no one in the musical dies from the crash.
The Paris Opera House really has an underground lake.
Yes, the Palais Garnier actually has an underground lake! In the Phantom musical and book, the lake is the centerpiece of the Phantom's lair. A feat of theatrical magic transforms the Broadway stage into the lake, on which the Phantom and Christine ride on a canoe amid the mist, as he sings the music of the night.
Legend goes that a faceless man (and some fish) once lived in the lake. Leroux heard the rumor and ran with it. In reality, the lake looks more like a sewer and had a much more practical purpose: keeping well and steam pump water away while the opera house foundation was being built. The only occupants of the "lake" as of late are a single white catfish (the opera house staff's unofficial pet) and French firefighters, who practice swimming in the dark there. We wonder if they've ever heard music coming from seemingly nowhere while doing so...
The Phantom is based on a real ghost story.
The many legends that inspired the Phantom are shrouded in as much mystery as the character himself. One story goes that in 1873, a stage fire destroyed the Paris Opera company's old venue, the Salle Le Peletier. (That part is true.) A ballerina died and her fiancé, a pianist, was disfigured. Legend has it that he retreated to the underground of the Palais Garnier, the company's new venue, and lived there until he died. Is he the same faceless man that supposedly lived in the lake? That's uncertain, but it's clear how these legends inspired the Phantom's appearance and living situation in Leroux's book.
Another rumor that inspired Leroux is the story of a ghost who haunts the Palais Garnier. Not only did the tale inspire him, but Leroux became obsessed with proving that the ghost was real. In the prologue to The Phantom of the Opera novel, he talks about the mysterious disappearance of one Vicomte de Chagny, who disappeared to Canada for 15 years without a trace. When he finally returned to Paris, he immediately went to the Palais and asked for a free opera ticket.
Leroux goes on to claim that Chagny and his brother were fighting over Christine Daaé (a fictional character), insinuating that a "tragedy" happened between the two. Since the Vicomte is clearly the inspiration for Christine's childhood friend and lover, Vicomte Raoul de Chagny, in Leroux's novel, it appears he believed the brother is the ghost, who was killed in some sort of tussle and now haunts the shadowy corners of the Palais Garnier.
Though the ghost's presence is hearsay — or, according to some sources, the opera house ghost is actually a jilted old woman — Leroux firmly believed the ghost is real. He also claimed that a body was unearthed below the Palais Garnier, which belonged to the would-be ghost and proved his story. (The fact that the revolutionary French Commune government used the Palais basement to hold prisoners is a somewhat more likely explanation for the body.) After all that, it's almost ironic that the titular character of The Phantom of the Opera isn't an actual ghost, but he kept the name "The Phantom" for his otherworldly, ghostly presence.
Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote Christine Daaé based on his real love story.
Christine Daaé is a fully fictional character, but some researchers say she was inspired by Christina Nilsson, a Swedish soprano who enjoyed a 20-year career as an acclaimed international opera singer. Other accounts say that Christine was partly inspired by a ballerina named Nanine Dorival, though no one knows for sure. Dorival (along with an acquaintance of Leroux's named Madame la Baronne de Castelot-Barbezac) is also said to have inspired the character of Meg Giry, as Dorival and Giry's mothers are both boxkeepers.
What's certain is that Webber's real-life romance inspired how he'd adapt Christine's character for the musical 70 years later. When he was writing The Phantom of the Opera , Webber was married to Sarah Brightman, a classical soprano who he'd met and married after she starred in his musical Cats in the West End.
He wrote the role of Christine for Brightman, composing the character's songs to fit her vocal range. After she originated the role in the West End, Webber naturally wanted Brightman to do so on Broadway, too. The Actor's Equity union refused at first, saying he should cast an American actor and that international Broadway leads had to be major stars. But love conquered all — Webber insisted, and he came to a compromise with Equity that he'd cast an American lead in his next London production. Webber and Brightman eventually divorced, but her influence on the role remains forever.
The Phantom of the Opera love triangle comes from a legend.
One of the inspirations for the main characters' love triangle is mentioned above, about how two brothers supposedly fought over a woman named Christine. There's another spooky story, though, that is said to have inspired Leroux. According to legend, a ballet dancer named Boismaison fell for the aforementioned ballerina Nanine Dorival. However, a French sergeant, Monsieur Mauzurier, also loved her, and he took it upon himself to get Boismaison out of the picture.
Boismaison had willed his bones to the Paris Opera in the hopes that he'd stay near his lover even after he died. According to a now-debunked legend, they honored his wishes and held onto his bones, even using his skeleton as a prop in Le Freischütz , an opera by Carl Maria von Weber. Nevertheless, the fabled love triangle inspired that of Raoul, the Phantom, and Christine. With source material as bizarre as this, it's no wonder that The Phantom of the Opera 's love story became a Gothic horror for the ages.
Originally published on Sep 29, 2022 13:00
The Phantom of the Opera
About this production.
- Production Staff
- Opening Night Cast
Majestic Theatre (Jan 26, 1988 - Apr 16, 2023)
- Songs music by Andrew Lloyd Webber ; lyrics by Charles Hart Act 1 Sung By Think of Me Carlotta Guidicelli, Christine Daaé and Raoul Angel of Music Christine Daaé and Meg Giry Little Lotte/The Mirror (Angel of Music) Raoul, Christine Daaé and Phantom of the Opera The Phantom of the Opera Phantom of the Opera and Christine Daaé The Music of the Night Phantom of the Opera I Remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It Christine Daaé and Phantom of the Opera Magical Lasso Joseph Buquet, Meg Giry, Madame Giry and Ballet Chorus of the Opéra Populaire Notes/Prima Donna Monsieur Firmin, Monsieur André, Raoul, Carlotta Guidicelli, Madame Giry, Meg Giry, Ubaldo Piangi and Phantom of the Opera Poor Fool, He Makes Me Laugh Carlotta Guidicelli and Company Why Have You Brought Me Here/Raoul I've Been There Raoul and Christine Daaé All I Ask of You Raoul and Christine Daaé All I Ask of You (Reprise) Phantom of the Opera Act 2 Sung By Masquerade/Why So Silent Full Company Notes/Twisted Every Way Monsieur André, Monsieur Firmin, Carlotta Guidicelli, Ubaldo Piangi, Raoul, Christine Daaé, Madame Giry and Phantom of the Opera Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again Christine Daaé Wandering Child/Bravo, Bravo Phantom of the Opera, Christine Daaé and Raoul The Point of No Return Phantom of the Opera and Christine Daaé Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer Full Company
Best book of a musical, best original score, best actor in a musical, best featured actress in a musical, best scenic design, best costume design, best lighting design, best choreography, best direction of a musical, drama desk award, outstanding musical, outstanding actor in a musical, outstanding actress in a musical, outstanding featured actress in a musical, outstanding choreography, outstanding director of a musical, outstanding orchestration, outstanding music, outstanding costume design, outstanding lighting design, outstanding set design, the phantom of the opera statistics, more productions by opening date.