I’ve been a fan of musical theater since middle school. It all started thanks to Disney Channel’s High School Musical. I fondly recall watching HSM when it aired in January 2006. My 12 year old self had no idea how much High School Musical films would ignite my interest for musical theater. Also, HSM will always have special place in the memories of my teenage years.
I cannot act to save my life. During high school, I actively participated in Concert Choir music program for two years. This enabled me to befriend a small handful of people in the theater department. I attended my fair amount of high school musical productions to support my theater friends. My high school put on great productions. Not mediocre at all.
I didn’t see much musical productions during my time at Messiah College. I didn’t have too many musical theater major acquaintances. Mostly science or psychology major people in my close friend cluster. Messiah College’s Student Activity Board (SAB) arranged Broadway NYC trips during the fall semester. In October 2013, SAB had a trip to see First Date off-Broadway musical. Zachary Levi from NBC’s Chuck was playing one of the lead roles. This was my main reason to go on this New York City trip with my college. Since graduating in May 2015, I hadn’t see any musical theater productions.
My Kinky Boots blog post provides more details about the Broadway and off-Broadway musical productions I’ve seen on my NYC trips. Yet, I’ve seen a total of four professional musical productions. Three musicals on Broadway in New York City. One musical on West End in London, England.
During my senior year of college, my friend convinced me to watch Phantom of the Opera musical film adaptation from 2004 with Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum. It would be first time watching it. I honestly didn’t know much about it, but I was willing to keep an open-mind. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this musical merely after watching the film adaptation for the first time. This took me by surprise. I now understood why my friend, Sasha, was so obsessed with Phantom of the Opera musical. Now, I wanted to see it on Broadway in New York City. Sadly, it was not on Broadway when I went to see Kinky Boots in June 2017. Phantom of the Opera embarked on a national US tour while another musical temporarily used The Majestic Theatre venue. But good things come to those who wait.
As of January 2018, Phantom of the Opera would be celebrating its 30th anniversary of being on New York City’s Broadway. It was coming back home to Broadway. In fact, Phantom of the Opera is the longest running show in Broadway history. It officially opened on Broadway back in January 26, 1988. More than 12,000 performances as of current date. During its 30 year run, it has stayed in the same theater venue. The Majestic Theatre.
This time around I wasn’t missing my opportunity to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. My family booked our New York City trip for August 25th to 26th. My mom and I got our tickets for Phantom of the Opera. My college friend, Sasha, told me the Broadway production would vary a little from the 2004 film adaptation. I was counting down the weeks until my New York City trip.
On August 25th, our bus arrived into New York City around 11 am. Phantom of the Opera musical wasn’t the only thing I had planned for that day. My mom and I had also bought tickets for Downton Abbey Exhibition. It would be closing on September 3rd. So we technically had two reasons to visit New York City this time. It was going to be a jam-packed day for us. Yet, there was enough time between Downton Abbey Exhibition and Phantom of the Opera musical. We were only seeing Phantom of the Opera at the 8 pm showtime.
Time flies when you’re having a blast. Early evening rolled around in a blink of an eye. I was bubbling with exuberant anticipation. The exterior of The Majestic Theatre building is grandiose yet elegant. It opened in March 28, 1927. Many major musical productions have been featured at this venue including Carousel, The Wiz, Camelot, The Music Man, and 42nd Street. It is one of the largest Broadway theaters. The full seating capacity is 1,645 persons. The interior of this venue is even more luxuriously opulent. It blew me away. So much beautiful details throughout the entire venue from the ornate walls and ceiling to the very stage itself. Our seats were in the first row of the rear mezzanine balcony level. Best of all, we only paid $69.00 for each seat. These cheap tickets still gave us great overhead views of the main stage. Not bad for our first time seeing Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.
Phantom of the Opera musical is based off Le Fantôme de l’Opéra novel by Gaston Leroux. It was published in January 8, 1910. The English translation novel was published in 1911.
The story arc takes place in Paris during the early 1880s. The musical is about a mysterious entity known as Phantom of the Opera who haunts the Paris Opéra House. He becomes obsessed with little-known soprano singer, Christine Daaé. He essentially was Christine’s music teacher growing up after her father’s death. The Phantom forces the new owners to promotes her from chorus girl to rising prima donna. We later learn the Phantom of the Opera (aka Opera Ghost) is actually a disfigured musical genius who lives in his subterranean lair under the Paris Opéra House. Also, Christine debunks the rumor he is a ghost. He is an actual human man. The Phantom continues to terrorize the owners and company in the opera house when they go against his orders. Eventually, they have had enough and formulate a devious plan to get permanently rid of Opera Ghost from their lives. Yet, you cannot forget the beautiful storytelling about the love triangle between Christine, The Phantom, and Vicomte Raoul de Chagny. Phantom of the Opera has melodramatic elements of romance and gothic horror beautifully intermingled together.
The sumptuous sets and costumes immerse you into this complex universe. My college friend was correct that outfits and sets were extravagant but not on same level as the film adaptation. Victorian era influenced the style of clothing in terms of men and women fashion. Very lavish styled outfits were worn by people among upper-class society. They could afford the expensive price of fancy Victorian era clothing. Not as accessible for anyone who wasn’t in upper-class society.
Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the music for Phantom of the Opera musical. He has composed music for other well-known musical production like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and School of Rock. He is one of the beloved musical composers of all-time. In fact, many of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals have been running for over a decade on London’s West End or New York City’s Broadway.
As the title suggests, Phantom of the Opera musical features songs in operatic style. The songs beautifully enhance the emotion of the scenes but also the storytelling experience. Throughout the performance, I was moved to tears on several occasions. The whole company collectively had great voices, but I was especially impressed with the actor Ben Crawford playing The Phantom.
It helped that I’d seen the film adaptation prior to seeing The Phantom of the Opera musical on Broadway. I could follow the plot of the musical easier. There isn’t as much backstory as the movie obviously. Yet, the movie adaptation and Broadway musical are both amazing in their own ways. Phantom of the Opera musical is an exhilarating 2.5 hours long performance. It takes you on a whirlwind romance and journey. I highly recommend taking a trip to New York City to check out this longest-running Broadway musical. You won’t regret it!
Now I’ve seen a total of four Broadway musicals. Two off-Broadway musicals (First Date and She Loves Me). Two main Broadway musicals (Kinky Boots and The Phantom of the Opera). I look forward to seeing more musical productions on Broadway! It gives me an good excuse to make a trip to New York City.
I’ll leave you with an amazing symphonic metal cover of “The Phantom of the Opera” by Nightwish. Nightwish is one of my all-time favorite female-fronted symphonic metal bands from Finland. Also, Tarja is sadly no longer lead singer, but still nonetheless my favorite.