The Phantom of the Opera Closes on Broadway

Kayla Katounas

After 35 years and 13,981 performances, Broadway’s longest running show, The Phantom of the Opera, has closed its doors. Composed by Broadway legend Andrew Lloyd Webber, Phantom, based on the 1910 novel of the same name, follows a musical genius who lives below an opera house that becomes obsessed with Christine, a soprano in the opera. It is often recognized by the phantom’s white mask that is worn throughout the show, covering half of his face. The show played its final Broadway performance on Sunday, April 16 to an invitation-only audience including former cast members, winners in a ticket lottery, and even celebrities like Lin-Manuel Miranda and Glenn Close.

The show debuted in Broadway’s Majestic Theatre on January 16, 1988, where it has remained for the entirety of its decades-long run. In that time, it grossed about 1.3 billion dollars. In fact, it was originally scheduled to close in February of this year, but was extended due to a large increase in ticket sales when the show was making over three million dollars weekly in ticket sales following the announcement of its end. Prior to this uptick in sales, the show was set to close due to lasting financial impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, inflation, and decreased tourism.

The Phantom of the Opera has been a Broadway staple since its opening in 1988, when it won seven Tony awards, including Best Musical. With Phantom’s exit from Broadway, it leaves only three of the top ten longest-running Broadway musicals still playing on the great white way – Chicago, The Lion King, and Wicked, ranked second, third, and fourth, respectively.

“I hope you won’t mind if I dedicate this performance to my son, Nick,” said Lloyd Webber at the final performance, referring to his son, Nick Lloyd Webber, who passed away in March due to pneumonia caused by cancer at the age of 43. “When Nick was a little boy, he heard some of this music,” Andrew Lloyd Webber continued. Sarah Brightman, who played the leading role of Christine Daaé in the original production and is the ex-wife of Lloyd Webber, also spoke. “When Andrew was writing [Phantom], he was right there. So his soul is with us. Nick, we love you very much.”

Lloyd Webber closed his speech by thanking “absolutely everyone who has made this extraordinary run possible.” The iconic composer seems pleasantly surprised with the Broadway end of one of his most successful works, saying he didn’t think “that Phantom would go out quite with the bang it has.” As far as the future of the production, Lloyd Webber is still hopeful for a future, hinting at a possible revival: “it may come back, you never know.”