'My childhood dream': Andrew Lloyd Webber's emotional farewell to 'Phantom of the Opera' on Broadway
On Sunday, April 16th, Broadway's longest-running musical Phantom of the Operadelivered its final performance in New York City, where it started dazzling Big Apple audiences in 1988.
"Sunday's show in front of a sold-out crowd at the Majestic Theatre off Times Square was performance number 13,981," Agence France-Presse noted following the curtain's descent for the ultimate time. The outlet added that "the last tickets were selling for more than $500 on booking sites."
On Monday, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber published an emotional editorial in The New York Times recalling the origins of the production, his relationship with director Hal Prince, and lamenting the troubles that have been plaguing Broadway in recent years.
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Webber began by addressing the March 25th, 2023 death of his son Nick, who lost his life to cancer:
Nothing's worse for a parent than the death of a child. In my bones I feel it wrong to write about the closing of 'Phantom' or where Broadway's going right now. But I'll try. I owe everything to my love of Broadway and its glorious legacy of musicals. So everything I write comes from my childhood dream that I'd make it to the Great White Way.
Despite the macabre timing, Webber continued:
Cut to this past weekend. The 35-year Broadway run of 'Phantom' has come to an end. It's a personal loss to see the close of this wonderful creation, the last Hal Prince production on Broadway, with its almost 30-piece orchestra and one of the grandest designs that have ever been seen in the theater. The irony is that this past season was its best ever. Perhaps it will rise again.
Webber then shared his concerns over the future of Broadway:
It can cost today $5 million to produce a play in a small Broadway house. Few plays can recoup this, even if ticket prices are astronomical.
Even a medium-scale musical today can cost $18 million to present. The weekly running costs of 'Phantom' prepandemic were about $850,000; the additional requirements of the pandemic era pushed it to almost $1 million, and that's with minimum royalties going to its creators.
Webber also specified additional issues and proposed solutions for how to fix them so that "Broadway rediscovers the appetite for new scores and original work that made me so excited when I was, as Hal always called me, a kid."
READ MORE: Coronavirus fears shut down Broadway for the next month
View Webber's full article at this link (subscription required).
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