Ben Crawford’s Broadway Phantom Legacy Continues
Three decades in, the Phantom of the Opera show is still as ghoulishly fantastic as ever. It truly is in a class of its own, maintaining its impressive and historic run – gracing the stage at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway since 1988.
The musical, characterized by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s composition and with the iconic Hal Prince as director, has not missed a step in its 31 years on the Great White Way. Its worldwide fans know all too well about the now-infamous falling chandelier and other iconic moments, the lighting and effects on stage, all backed by swirling tunes and organ melodies. The beauty of it all is how new it all feels, akin to when Michael Crawford’s Phantom seduced Sarah Brightman’s Christine to the lower levels of the Opera House in Paris.
The current and 16th Phantom, Ben Crawford, acknowledges the ease at which the minds behind the show pull it off, which is impressive considering its duration on Broadway. “I can’t imagine how it is for other long-running shows, but for us, it’s a pretty easy process,” he says. To him, what has been created is nothing short of a master class, cementing its place in pop culture and not just Broadway. Crawford believes that within the show lies something that every audience member can relate and connect to; each with their own traits or insecurities – not to mention mommy issues.
His influence for the Phantom, Crawford says, is borne of his love for comics in his earlier years. An amalgamation of Batman’s Joker and Beast from the Disney film: ‘Maniacal and Obsessive.’ But while every actor must align to certain aspects of a character, Crawford still has enough leeway to make the role his own. While the heart of the show is still firmly intact, Crawford’s Phantom may stand out from his predecessors due to one key trait: His Phantom walks down the stairs normally, as opposed to backward.
New cast members all put their spin on things, and the audience remains appreciative mainly of this. Of course, Crawford has been compared to Phantoms past – sometimes with a negative connotation, but hey, the show does not feel over 30 years old!