Our long theatrical night terror is over. No, Lea Michele is still playing Fanny Brice, silly; it’s Broadway’s The Phantom of the Opera that’s closing. Phantom, the longest running show ever to play on a Broadway stage, opened in 1988 at the Majestic Theatre and will celebrate its 35th anniversary there in January. The show, directed by Hal Prince with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, was the first Broadway show to reach 10,000 performances — an honor it now shares with the revival of Chicago.
“It may be possible to have a terrible time at ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ but you’ll have to work at it,” New York Times theater critic Frank Rich wrote on the show’s opening in 1988. “Only a terminal prig would let the avalanche of pre-opening publicity poison his enjoyment of this show, which usually wants nothing more than to shower the audience with fantasy and fun, and which often succeeds, at any price.”
Phantom’s last Broadway performance will be on February 18, 2023. Notably, Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of Cinderella was announced to begin playing on Broadway that same month. If there is a lapse between the end of Phantom and beginning of Cinderella, it will be the first time since 1976 that Broadway isn’t running a Lloyd Webber production — unless Love Never Dies somehow manages to sneak its way in before then.