First posted January 28, 2012. Last updated September 4, 2018.
Phantom of the Opera (cast/soundtrack)
Andrew Lloyd Webber/Charles Hart/ Richard Stilgoe (composers)
Opened in London: September 27, 1986
Cast Album Released: April 20, 1987
Opened on Broadway: January 26, 1988
Soundtrack Released: Nov. 23, 2004
Sales (in millions):
C cast album
The Phantom of the Opera was originally a 1911 gothic mystery novel by French novelist Gaston Leroux. Ken Hill did a musical version of the book in 1976; ten years later it was adapted again by Andrew Lloyd Webber. “The musical focuses on a beautiful soprano, Christine Daaé, who becomes the obsession of a mysterious, disfigured musical genius known as ‘The Phantom of the Opera’, who terrorizes the Paris Opera House.” WK
Initially Webber approached Jim Steinman, best known for collaborating with Meat Loaf on Bat Out of Hell, to write the lyrics because of his “dark obsessive side.” WK When Steinman declined because of commitments to working on Bonnie Tyler’s album, he recruited Alan Jay Lerner (My Fair Lady, Camelot ), who unfortunately died soon after starting on the project. WK Next up was Richard Stilgoe, who also wrote lyrics for Webber’s Starlight Express. However, Webber deemed his lyrics “too witty and clever, rather than romantic” WK so Charles Hart was brought in to rewrite the lyrics. Stilgoe and Hart both got credit on the final version. WK
Phantom opened on October 9, 1986 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London. It celebrated 9000 performances on May 31, 2008 and became “the second-longest-running West End musical of all time, behind Les Miserables.” WK It had similar success after opening in New York in January 1988, becoming “the longest-running Broadway musical of all time, breaking the record held by Lloyd Webber’s Cats.” WK It “won both the Olivier Award and Tony Award as the best musical in its debut years on the West End and Broadway.” WK
The musical has also been named “the highest-grossing entertainment event of all time.” WK The New York production is the “most financially successful Broadway show in history” WK with $600 million grossed. WK The show has played to over 100 million people in 124 cities in 25 countries. WK
Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, who starred in the West End production as the titular character and Christine respectively, also launched the Broadway debut. As such, the London cast album became the official recording and no Broadway version was made. WR Both a two-disc set and a single-disc “highlights” set were made available, each selling 4 million copies in the U.S.
In 2004, Phantom was made into a movie starring Gerard Butler as the Phantom and Emily Rossum as Christine Daaé. It was also released in two editions – the double-disc version was the “the complete, unedited film soundtrack, including dialogue, incidental background music, and sound effects,” WR while the single-disc version was billed as the standard release.
Webber wrote “some extra background music here and there, as well as one new song, and that’s an oddity, too. Minnie Driver, who plays the prima donna Carlotta, had her singing dubbed by Margaret Preece, but she turns up at the end and, over the closing credits, sings Learn to Be Lonely, an irrelevant and musically out-of-place song clearly composed just to have a new tune that would be Academy Award-eligible. The film’s other singers are adequate but no competition to Crawford, Brightman, and their colleagues, and the initial recording remains the one to buy.” WR