“The Phantom of the Opera” – Broadway’s longest-running show – is set to end in February 2023, the biggest casualty yet of New York’s post-pandemic theater attendance downturn.
The musical — a Broadway staple since 1988, withstanding recessions, war and cultural shifts — will play its final Broadway performance Feb. 18, a spokesperson told The Associated Press on Friday. The closure will take place less than a month after his 35th birthday. It will end with a breathtaking 13,925 performances.
It’s an expensive musical to maintain, with elaborate sets and costumes as well as a large cast and orchestra. Box office receipts have fluctuated since the show reopened after the pandemic — hitting more than $1 million a week, but also dropping to around $850,000. Last week it hit $867,997 and the producers may have seen the writing on the wall.
Based on a novel by Gaston Leroux, “Phantom” tells the story of a deformed composer who haunts the Paris Opera and falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lavish songs include “Masquerade”, “Angel of Music”, “All I Ask of You” and “The Music of the Night”.
“As a producer, you dream of a series lasting forever. Indeed, my production of Andrew’s ‘Cats’ has for decades proudly declared ‘Now and Forever’. Yet ‘Phantom’ has surpassed the extraordinary run Broadway of this show. But all the shows eventually end,” producer Cameron Mackintosh said in a statement.
The first production started in London in 1986 and since then the show has been seen by over 145 million people in 183 cities and presented in 17 languages on more than 70,000 performances. On Broadway alone, the musical has given over 13,500 performances to 19 million people at the Majestic Theatre.
Closing ‘Phantom’ would mean the longest show crown would go to ‘Chicago,’ which debuted in 1996. ‘The Lion King’ is next, having started performances in 1997.
Broadway took a hit during the pandemic, with all cinemas closed for more than 18 months. Some of the most popular shows — “Hamilton,” “The Lion King” and “Wicked” — rebounded well, but other shows struggled. Breaking even usually requires a steady flow of tourists, especially for “Phantom” and visitors to the city have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.