'Phantom' to Become the Longest-Running Broadway Show

On Monday evening, Jan. 9, 2006, Andrew Lloyd Webber's award-winning musical The Phantom of the Opera will become the longest-running show in Broadway history.

The performance will be number 7,486 -- surpassing the current champion Cats, which held at 7,485 shows and was also written by Webber.

The special night will begin with an early 6:30 p.m. performance at The Majestic Theatre, 247 West 44th St., the musical's home for its entire run. The performance will be followed by a one-night-only onstage presentation being secretly devised by the musical's creators. Guests will then attend a masked ball in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria.

The original creative team has specially chosen the cast for the performance, inviting back many Phantom regulars and favorites: most notably the acclaimed Howard McGillin in the title role. McGillin donned the mask for three and a half years and more than 1,200 performances, more than any other performer.

The special company also includes Sandra Joseph as Christine; Tim Martin Gleason as Raoul; and Marilyn Caskey, the only actress in the history of the Broadway Phantom to have played both the principal roles of Carlotta, for several previous years, and Madame Giry, on the record-breaking night. Three cast members have been with the show since the beginning: George Lee Andrews as Monsieur André, Mary Leigh Stahl as the Wardrobe Mistress/Confidante, and Richard Warren Pugh as Don Attilio.

Phantom has recently enjoyed several other record-breaking numbers. The show pulled in record profits at the box office last summer, and since its Broadway debut, on Jan. 26, 1988, the show has grossed nearly $600 million, making it the highest-grossing Broadway show ever. Just a few weeks after the record-breaking performance, Phantom will celebrate its 18th anniversary -- the first Broadway production to do so.

In those near 18 years, about 11 million people have attended the famous show about a masked figure who lurks beneath, and haunts, the Paris Opera House, ultimately falling in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine. The New York production has continuously played to near-capacity audiences, rave reviews, and numerous awards, including a sweep of the Tonys in its debut year, winning seven, including Best Musical.

"Phantom is still wonderful and isn't showing its age one bit," said David Richardson, on WOR Radio last July. "The chandelier still falls on cue, and the show still rises to the top of all the musicals ever to appear on Broadway."

The New York Phantom is a production of the Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful group, Inc., and directed by Harold Prince, with lyrics by Charles Hart (additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe), and a book by Stilgoe and Webber.

--Anna Bengel

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