NEW YORK – “The Phantom of the Opera” – Broadway’s longest-running show – is slated to close in February 2023, the biggest casualty yet from New York’s post-pandemic decline in theater attendance.
The musical — a Broadway fixture since 1988, weathering recessions, war and cultural shifts — will make its final Broadway appearance on Feb. 18, a spokesperson told The Associated Press on Friday. The closure comes less than a month after the 35th anniversary.
It’s a precious musical to sustain, with elaborate sets and costumes, as well as a great cast and orchestra. Box office revenue has fluctuated since the show’s reopening after the pandemic — to over $1 million a week, but also fell to about $850,000. It hit $867,997 last week and producers may have seen the writing on the wall.
Based on a novel by Gaston Leroux, “Phantom” tells the story of a disfigured composer who haunts the Paris Opera House 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.”
The first production opened in London in 1986 and since then the show has been seen by more than 145 million people in 183 cities and performed in more than 70,000 performances in 17 languages. On Broadway alone, the musical has played more than 13,500 performances to 19 million people at The Majestic Theater.
The closing of “Phantom” would mean that the longest-running show crown would go to “Chicago”, which began in 1996. “The Lion King” is next, which started performing in 1997.
Broadway took a major hit during the pandemic, with all theaters closed for more than 18 months. Break-even usually requires a steady stream of tourists, especially to ‘Phantom’.
The closure was first reported Friday by the New York Post.