Broadway's Longest Running Musical Is Still Captivating Audiences Decades Later
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Broadway's Longest Running Musical Is Still Captivating Audiences Decades Later

The Phantom of the Opera Is Still There, Inside Our Minds

Broadway's Longest Running Musical Is Still Captivating Audiences Decades Later

On October 9th, 1986, The Phantom of the Opera premiered at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical was inspired by the timeless story presented in the original fiction piece by Gaston Leroux.. Michael Crawford (the phantom), Sarah Brightman (Christine Daae) and Steve Barton (Raoul) made up the original trio in London and continued their roles when the Broadway production opened two years later. The musical released a new global phenomena, and for good reason.

So, how could such a play still touch the hearts of millions of people even after its 30th anniversary? There are a few reasons:

1. The Characters

This story offers a large scale of characters. From those comic relief characters we all love, to the sinister yet misunderstood ones, it is impossible not to find a character in this play that you don't connect with on some level.

The Phantom (Erik)

Credit for the image above:

The Phantom is the star of this story, though the majority of his actions do not reflect goodness. Erik grew up alone and misunderstood, because of his deformity. Madame Giry even explains that he was kept locked in a cage as part of a circus attraction. He escaped that life, however, and the musical genius made a new home for himself. Upon discovering Christine Daae, he claims that he is her “angel of music”. The Phantom has a suave, almost hypnotic air to him, in the beginning. However, we discover that he is cruel and manipulative, killing anyone that gets in his way with his Punjab lasso. In the end, though, it is difficult not to feel sorry for Erik, especially since he realizes that he loves Christine for more than just her voice. He lets Christine leave, though, which is possibly the only good thing he did for her besides teaching her to sing so well.

Christine Daae

Credit for the image above:

Christine is the daughter to a late Gustave Daae, a famous violinist in the book. She had been through struggles, since her father’s passing, but finds a bit of hope when her supposed “angel of music” enters her life. Her story takes dramatic turns and audiences get to watch Christine transform to the strong, ambitious woman that she was meant to be. She realizes that it is too late for a man to come to her rescue and she must be the one to save herself.

Raoul Vicomte de Changy

Credit for the image above: Matthew Murphy and

The Vicomte comes back into Christine's life years after their childhood friendship. Raoul is loyal, brave and expresses the pure emotion of falling in love during every performance. He offers Christine a sense of protection in a time where her life is facing nothing but turmoil.

Madame Giry / Meg Giry

Credit for the image above:

Madame Giry is the mother of the young ballerina, Meg. The Giry’s can be seen as helpful characters. Madame Giry takes account of all of the financials at the Opera Populaire, for the Opera Ghost himself. Meg is a good friend to Christine, who always shows concern for her once she realizes that something is keeping Christine’s head in the clouds.

Richard Firmin / Gilles Andre

Credit for the image above: Catherine Ashmore

Richard and Gilles become the new managers of the Opera Populaire after mysterious incidents cause the original manager to leave. Their confusion and frustrations toward the "Opera Ghost" offer a sense of comic relief in this grim plot.

Carlotta Giudicelli / Ubaldo Piangi

Credit for the image above: Catherine Ashmore

Carlotta and Ubaldo are unsympathetic characters in the play. They are two of the most renowned talents in the world of Opera, but their selfish motives get them both into serious trouble.

2. The Score

My interest of this musical didn't come about until recently. Thank goodness for Pandora Radio! Last October, I was listening to a musical station on Pandora when suddenly one of the most amazing tunes I had ever heard came on. It was the title song of The Phantom of the Opera. I had never listened to any of the music from this play, besides Music of the Night, only because I expected to music would make me cry, so I wanted to avoid it as much as possible. Little did I know how much I was actually missing out on. I was lucky enough to see the play back in April. I knew that the music itself would be enough to make me cry, because I had listened to it countless times since I got hooked on the play that October. However, I didn't expect to be the type of person who would bawl my eyes out within the first two minutes of the play. The overture was enough to do that to me. Well- that and the fact that I felt like I was living a dream by being able to see that play. Listening to the soundtrack is nothing like hearing this music in person.

Here are renditions of a couple of my favorite musical moments in the play, sung by two amazing talents that I had come to admire.

3. The Stage/Costume Design

There isn't much I can say, but pictures are worth a thousand words. The first two photos are mine but I take no credit for any of the other photos. I will provide credit for them, though, and links to the pages which you can see them.

Credit for the image above: and xlvideo (Footage from the 25th Anniversary production)

Credit for the image above: The New York Times:

Credit for the image above: Joan Marcus and

Credit for the image above:

Credit for the image above:

Credit for the image above: Pat Bromilow-Downing

Credit for the image above: This is a press shot for Julia Udine's Christine Daae but I got this picture from

Credit for the image above: Alastair Muir

4. (probably the most significant reason) The Story

I have heard people say that The Phantom of the Opera made them cry like a baby. To be honest, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. In fact, I’d be more concerned for anyone who got through this whole play without shedding a single tear. The story touches every aspect of human emotion. From love, to hate, happiness, grief, anger and sadness. You name it.

To me, one of the most powerful lines of this play, happens to sum up the whole idea of the story. After the Phantom goes on a wild rampage, in the final scene, Christine realizes that she must know nothing of the life he had gone through. She says, “Pitiful creature of darkness, what kind of life have you known? God, give me courage to show you, you are not alone.”

That line is the epitome of, not only this story, but human experience as a whole. This “Phantom” had power to kill, cast fire, hypnotize Christine, and allow his voice to be heard throughout the whole Opera house without being seen. It seems almost supernatural. Despite these abilities, though, the one thing that he wanted was acceptance. This was probably the simplest desire anyone could have, but for Erik, all of the power in the world could not bring him that. The only person that accepted him for who he was is Christine, through the power of her kind heart. The Phantom’s scars and deformity symbolize the mistakes bared on the shoulders of all of mankind. We may try to hide all of our faults with masks, but they are bound to be discovered someday. Only those who truly love us will accept our imperfections, for they are what makes us human.

I highly recommend this play for anyone who is willing to be moved to tears and become part of this truly amazing experience.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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