Saturday, January 26, 2013

A PHANTOM TURNS TWENTY-FIVE

Congratulations are in order on this date. And kudos also to composer Andrew  Lyold Webber, A milestone previously unthinkable in American theatre becomes a reality on Jan. 26 when a Broadway show, The Phantom of the Opera, celebrates its 25th anniversary. A special curtain-call event at the Majestic Theatre will be followed by an after-party at the New York Public Library.

The black-tie and glamorous-garb crowd will include producer Cameron Mackintosh, director Harold Prince original star Sarah Brightman, current stars Hugh Panaro (The Phantom), Sierra Boggess (Christine), Kyle Barisich (Raoul) and Phantom cast alumni from 25 years on Broadway.

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who wrote the international smash with Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, drawing on the popular 1911 novel by Gaston Leroux, is not able to attend due to a medical issue.

Harold Prince the director said "Did I ever dream [a 25-year run] would happen? No, of course not. I knew [from staging the London production] we had a hit, but, in the theatre that I was raised in, a long run was 1,000 performances. That was a big, big hit. Then, My Fair Lady ran five years. But [a 25th anniversary] is another world, and I'm happy to have been part of it."

Boggess, who originated the role of Christine in London's Love Never Dies, the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, joined the Broadway company of Phantom Jan. 21 for a limited engagement. Boggess' history with Phantom began when she originated the role of Christine in the revised Las Vegas production in 2006. She also played Christine for the London production's 25th anniversary, which was marked by a special staging at The Royal Albert Hall in October 2011.

The actress recently starred in Cameron Mackintosh's record-breaking London production of Les Misérables as Fantine. She starred as Broadway's The Little Mermaid and appeared in the Broadway revival of Master Class.

Panaro has a history of playing the Tony Award-winning show's rivals — both The Phantom and Raoul. He was first cast in December 1990 as Raoul, a role he played for more than two years and over 900 performances. In February 1999 he took over the title role, becoming the 10th of 12 men to be cast as The Phantom on Broadway.

To date, Panaro has played The Phantom with the New York Company over 1,800 times in three different engagements, including his most recent return that began in September 2010. Combined, he has performed (as both The Phantom and Raoul) in over 2,800 performances of the Broadway production.

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