‘Phantom of the Opera’ closes on Broadway after 53-year run


Isabella Lee, staff writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has done a lot of damage to various industries. However, one industry that has suffered in particular has been theatre. Theatre thrives on live audiences, so the fact that these productions couldn’t perform for over a year was devastating for both cast and crew, who were left without a source of income for that entire time. Even after shows began reopening, the lack of audiences attending out of extreme caution for their health led to many rising popular shows closing after sadly short stints. However, one show that was significantly impacted was“Phantom of the Opera.” After a stunning 13,981 performances, “Phantom of the Opera” closed on April 16 following an unprecedented 35-year long run, the longest in Broadway history. Over the course of its time
at the Majestic Theatre, it has entertained over 20 million patrons and brought in over $1.3 billion, with an estimated 6,500 people having been employed by
the production, including over 400 actors, and a cast, orchestra and crew of 125 needed per performance. “I got the gig of a lifetime. There’s no other way to describe it,” says Richard Poole, who’s been a member of the ensemble, playing minor roles, for almost 25 years. “It’s given me the ability to have security, to plan ahead,” said Poole in an interview with NPR. “It gives me discipline and structure in my life, and it gives me a constant way to maintain my craft.” Musician Joyce Hammann has been at the show even longer than Poole: “I’m concertmaster at Phantom of the Opera, which is first violin. And holy moly, I’ve been there 33 and a half years.” Hammann is one of several orchestra members to have a “Phantom baby” – her son, Jackson, just turned 18. “This has been his home away from home,” she said. Six women out of 40 who portrayed the leading woman, Christine, could share their experiences with the production and how it changed their lives. “As monumental as the role is to everybody else, I was a young person doing my best with all the talent I had to put this beautiful role in place,” said
Sarah Brightman, the very first Christine. “I feel very humbled by it.” “The gift of that for me was getting the feedback of people who didn’t realize that this was a
role that was open to them,” said Ali Ewoldt, the first person of color to portray Christine. Emilie Kouatchou agrees with this notion. “I’m getting to be powerful, and soft, and sexy, and feminine and masculine,” Kouatchou said. “I think it’s important for people to see someone who looks like me being able to be all of these things because, as Black women, we don’t get to do that quite often.” It’s a devastating blow to the theatre industry that “Phantomof the Opera” will no longer be
on Broadway, prompting many to wonder what show will occupy the Majestic Theatre now. Hopefully, there will be tours or a revival to keep the love for “Phantom of the Opera” just as strong as it initially was.