The Phantom of the Opera Celebrates its 33rd Birthday
When we say the ‘phantom’ is the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T), we mean it! Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical recently celebrated its 33rd birthday in London’s West End setting a longevity record that seems to be unbreakable. Let’s put it this way, there is a 10-year gap between The Phantom of the Opera and its closest contenders, The Lion King and Chicago.
We liken The Phantom of Opera to a renewable energy source that doesn’t seem to run out of theatrical juice. Regardless of where your allegiance lies regarding the best musical, we can all agree that The Phantom has more than earned a position in West End and Broadway’s history books. PS: The musical will celebrate its 31st anniversary on Broadway this coming January.
Which is the most accurate and credible test of excellence? No, it’s neither trophies nor the number of groupies, the answer is time – and The Phantom has gracefully stood that test. And before you assume that we’re using time as a ‘clutching straw’ to water down its lack of awards and fans, the musical has managed to amass impressive numbers in its three decades of existence. 35 countries during tour, 140 million viewers, and an income of…drums rolling…6 BILLION DOLLARS!
Now, we know that there are detractors who wince and roll their eyes whenever someone gloats about The Phantom – we haven’t forgotten you lot. Sure, it’s obvious that the musical is not a masterclass (some might even call it bland). The story is pretty basic, the scores are not high-energy stoppers that characterize musicals, and it’s structurally weird. The music even leans more on the opera side contrary to a traditional musical – there are more singing and less talking/acting. In hindsight, the West End and Broadway musical probably deserves the same fate as the widely loathed 2004 movie adaptation by Joel Schumacher.
Despite the clear shortcoming of The Phantom of the Opera, the show is as iconic to the performing arts as Mozart is to classical music. So why does the musical still continue with its eternal run when it seems to lack the oomph factor?
The answer is quite simple: The Phantom of the Opera combines the collective awesomeness of live performance, music, costumes, sets and everything that makes theatre magical. There’s something evocative about the chandelier, the masquerade, the candles, and the weird half mask that should belong in a Halloween store.
The logic-defying beauty of The Phantom is the brainchild of lyricists Richard Stilgoe and Charles Hart, director Harold Prince, and the legendary designer, Maria Björnson. Alongside, the genius of Lloyd Webber, these creative minds went against the tide to make gold out a musical that, if anything, should be trash (pardon my bad language). As The Phantom of the Opera continues to bewitch theatregoers, we can only tip our hats in honor of the greatest musical of all time.