The Most Iconic Broadway Play Is Shutting Down

The Phantom of the Opera is ending its run in 2023 after 35 years on Broadway.

By Mark McKee | Published

Before people flocked to the movie theaters to see the newest stories for entertainment, they made their way to open amphitheaters to hear the song and dance of tales told by stage actors. As theater evolved from ancient Greece, through William Shakespeare, and finally to Lin Manuel Miranda, there have been some iconic, industry-changing plays that stood the test of time. According to Deadline, one of the most iconic plays of all time, Phantom of the Opera, will lower its curtains for the last time after 35 years on Broadway

Phantom of the Opera has been showing at the Shubert Organization’s Majestic Theatre on Broadway since its first opening in 1988, following rave notices and reviews in London. Former Facilities Director Fred Olsson revealed that to bring the show to New York, despite carrying large productions like The Music Man, the Majestic Theater needed to undergo over a million dollars of structural renovations to create a stage and auditorium to support the production. After all the hard work to prepare the building, the focus switched to costume changes and choreography to adapt the show to the eight flights of stairs the performers would have to traverse in point shoes during the performance. 

phantom of the opera

The gamble paid off hugely for the theater as it celebrated its 10,000th performance in 2012, making it the longest-running show in Broadway history and collecting armfuls of accolades on the way. After winning an Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Musical and Musical of the Year in London in 1986, it moved to New York, where it cleaned house by winning Tonys for Best Musical, Leading Actor, Featured Actress, Director, Set Designer, Costume Designer, and Lighting Designer. Phantom of the Opera then went on to win awards in Los Angeles, Toronto, Stockholm, and Melbourne as it exploded across the global theater industry.

The production featured music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Charles Hart, and a libretto by Lloyd Webber and Richard Stilgoe and was directed by Harold Prince. The story follows Christine, an ambitious understudy who has been watched and trained by the Phantom of the Opera, living in the walls, and haunting the show until Christine is given the lead role. The original Majestic on Broadway cast of Phantom of the Opera starred Lloyd Webber’s wife Sarah Brightman as Christine Daaé, Michael Crawford as the half-masked Phantom, Steve Barton as Raoul, Cris Groenendaal as Monsieur André, Nicholas Wyman as Monsieur Firmin, Judy Kaye as Carlotta, David Romano as Piangi, Leila Martin as Madame Giry, and Elisa Heinsohn as Meg Giry.

Like much of the entertainment industry, Phantom of the Opera saw hard times thanks to Covid-19’s ravaging of both the entertainment and tourism industry. The result of the struggles and the competition from new musicals is now becoming evident in many of the different avenues, including Broadway losing one of the most iconic shows in the history of theater. The Majestic announced on its website the shutting down of the show, with tickets on sale through January 22, 2023, with a final block of tickets to go on sale to bring an end to a Broadway mainstay.