Phantom of the Opera’s Final Bow

Angie Yang '24

Sunday, April 16 marked the end of an era. After a historic 13,981 show and remarkable 35 year run, Phantom of the Opera performed its final show on Broadway. 

The story follows a damaged, disfigured musical genius called the Phantom, who lives in the shadows of the Paris Opera House. He falls in love with the young soprano, Christine Daae, who struggles to choose between the Phantom’s love and her childhood friend’s. The whirlwind of emotions is set to a backdrop of the lavish, magnificent theater, stunning costumes, and magical effects that bring the story to life. After reading the book written by Gaston Leroux, Andrew Lloyd Webber paired up with previous collaborator and famous theater director, Hal Prince, to bring this story to life. He wrote the iconic music that features a 27 musician pit, which is a sharp contrast to the smaller pits for Broadway musicals. Not only is the music spectacular, many moments leave the audience in awe like the grand masquerade ball with beautiful, glimmering costumes, the stage turning into the waterways underneath the opera house with water flooding the stage and mist, and the chandelier crashing down over the audience at the end of the first act.

Phantom of the Opera has always held a special place in my heart. It was the introduction to the magical world of theater that would later enchant me. Growing up, my parents would always play the 2004 movie on the TV as we went about our day. I vividly remember pausing throughout my day to watch segments and always hearing the music around the house. My mom took me to watch Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Having lottery tickets, we were in the front row and I remember the absolute awe that filled me: the grand Majestic Theatre, the crashing chandelier, the stage turning into a waterway, and the immense detail in the Phantom’s scarred face.  

The closing of Phantom reveals a glimpse into the hardships it takes to run a Broadway show. Within the past year, Broadway saw the closing of many shows including favorites like Dear Evan Hansen and Beetlejuice and now Phantom of the Opera. Oftentimes, productions struggle to navigate the tremendous costs. Having become such an integral part of New York City, Broadway relies heavily on the ticket sales from international tourists hoping to experience “the Great White Way.” This was disrupted when after the pandemic caused an 18 month shutdown to live theater. Even to this day, Broadway still hasn’t seen a comeback to the same levels as before the pandemic. With the added habit of staying at home and streaming, people have lost the drive of live theater [2,3]. Through all the struggles, Broadway will always continue its cycle of new shows waiting to be discovered and the closing of old ones. As for Phantom of the Opera? Currently, the show is still running in London’s West End and there are productions in Czech Republic, Japan, South Korea and Sweden. New productions will also be opening in China, Italy, and Spain [1]. And while Broadway has dimmed the lights on the Majestic Theater, some time in the new future, the lights will shine and the iconic opening chords will fill the city once again.