Happy Anniversary, Phantom of the Opera!

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic musical The Phantom of the Opera was first presented to the world 30 years ago today when it began preview performances at London’s Her Majesty’s Theatre. The show was officially opened on October 9 in London, and premiered on Broadway in January of 1988, where it has remained a staple ever since. In honor of Phantom’s 30th anniversary, here are 30 facts you might not know about the timeless production. 

  1. The story originated long before the musical. French novelist Gaston Leroux first published Le Fantome de l’Opera in 1909.
  2. No music of the night? Leroux’s book was adapted into a silent film in 1925 starring Lon Chaney as the title character.
  3. Chaney did his own makeup to create the Phantom’s disfigured, skeletal like face, which is to this day is said to be the most accurate depiction of the book’s character.

    Lon Chaney as the Phantom
  4. Lloyd Webber’s version was not story’s first musical. In 1976, Ken Hill produced and composed a musical from Leroux’s book which premiered in Lancaster, England.
  5. Hill revived his musical in 1984, altering the score to make the music more historically accurate to operas of the 19th century.
  6. Sarah Brightman was offered to play the role of Christine in Hill’s version. She ultimately turned it down, only to originate the role in Lloyd Webber’s version.
  7. Lloyd Webber and fellow theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh approached Hill about developing the show into a larger version for London’s West End.
  8. Ken Hill ultimately was not involved in the show’s development and has not received any formal royalty for Lloyd Webber’s version.
  9. While the title character is simply known as the Phantom in the musical, his name is revealed to be Erik in Leroux’s novel.
  10. Jim Steinman was asked to write the lyrics for Lloyd Webber’s score but turned it down to produce Bonnie Tyler’s album Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire.
  11. The music has been recorded by casts of twelve different countries’ productions.
  12. Andrew Lloyd Webber and original leading lady Sarah Brightman were married from 1984 to 1990.
  13. Lloyd Webber developed a sequel to the musical, titled Love Never Dies.
  14. The Phantom of the Opera has been recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records on multiple occasions.
  15. The play is the longest-running production on Broadway, surpassing 11,000 performances in 2014.
  16. However, it is currently the third longest-running London West End production behind Les Miserables and The Mousetrap.
  17. Actor Philip Griffiths set the record for the longest time performing in the same production, having been in the London production for over 25 years.
  18. Phantom has grossed over $6 billion worldwide, more than the combined revenue of films Titanic, Avatar, ET and Star Wars.
  19. The Phantom’s makeup application is a two hour-long process complete with moisturizing, shaving, and fitting of prosthetics.
  20. The replica of the Paris Opera House chandelier featured in the show is made up of over 6,000 beads and weighs one ton.

    The chandelier is a true centerpiece of the show
  21. The original show’s chandelier took four weeks to build.
  22.  The Phantom wears different colored contact lenses in every performance–one blue and the other clouded.
  23. Each performance uses over 500 pounds of dry ice along with multiple fog and smoke machines.
  24. The original cast’s recording has sold over 40 million copies worldwide, and became the first musical recording to chart at number one.
  25.  The musical was turned into a 2004 feature film starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum.
  26. Lloyd Webber and lyricist Charles Hart composed a new song for the film called “Learn to be Lonely.”
  27. The song earned Hart and Lloyd Webber an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song.
  28. A single performance of The Phantom of the Opera consists of 230 costumes and 281 candles.
  29. The musical was adapted into a Las Vegas show, which ran at the Venetian Resort Hotel and Casino for six years. sander_jan_klerk_las_vegas_phantom_of_the_opera
  30. A staggering 130 million people have seen the show over the course of its 30-year run.

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