Phantom of the Opera (1976 musical)
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|Phantom of the Opera|
|Basis||The Phantom of the Opera 1911 novel by Gaston Leroux|
1987 St. Louis
1988 San Francisco
1989 U.S. Tour
1991 West End
1992 Japanese tour
1992 New Zealand & Australia
Phantom of the Opera is a 1976 musical with book and lyrics by Ken Hill. It is the first musical adaptation of the novel The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, about the hideously disfigured Phantom's amorous obsession with the magnificent, naive singer, Christine. Hill wrote the original English lyrics to the music of Verdi, Gounod, Offenbach, Mozart, Weber, Donizetti, and Boito.
Hill’s Phantom of the Opera was the first musical version of the story by Gaston Leroux and has enjoyed financial success. Hill's musical inspired the award-winning Andrew Lloyd Webber musical version of the story, although he never received any formal royalty for it.
As Ken Hill rummaged through a used bookstore, he picked up a copy of Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera novel and eventually produced it as a stage musical. The show started off as a production at Morecambe Pier as the first staged musical version, but was also first staged when Hill was working as Director of Productions for the Newcastle Playhouse. This first production was produced at The Duke’s Playhouse in Lancaster on July 26, 1976, where it proved to be a hit. It was directed by John Blackmore, designed by Clare Lyth, with musical direction by Gary Yershon. It differed from the later version of Ken Hill’s musical, in having a modern musical score by Ian Armit (who also worked with Hill on his production of The Curse of the Werewolf) in addition to excerpts from the opera Faust by Charles Gounod.
In 1984, Hill revived his musical version of The Phantom of the Opera. This time though, he wanted to add the kind of music that would have been heard at the Opéra Garnier in the late 19th century. Consequently he discarded the modern score by Ian Armit and wrote original English lyrics that told Gaston Leroux’s tale. By placing them to opera arias by Gounod, Offenbach, Verdi, Weber, Mozart, Donizetti, and Boito, he created a musical that reflected the era in which the original novel was written. This updated version of The Phantom of the Opera was produced in a joint production by the Newcastle Playhouse and the Theatre Royal Stratford East, and premiered at the Newcastle Playhouse on April 3, 1984, before shortly moving to the Theatre Royal Stratford East. In between, the show had two very brief runs at the New Tyne Theatre in Newcastle and the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton - neither of those productions did very well. When the show got the Theatre Royal Stratford East, Sarah Brightman, who created the role of Christine in the Lloyd Webber version, was famously asked to perform the role of Christine in the 1984 cast but she turned it down, leaving the role for the opera singer Christina Collier.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, who at the time was married to Brightman, and Cameron Mackintosh attended a performance of Ken Hill’s Phantom of the Opera at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Prompted by the good reviews, they approached Hill about the possibility of their collaborating on developing a grand scale version of his Phantom in the West End, and offered to produce it. In fact, Hill and Lloyd Webber had worked together earlier on a revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Winchester Theatre. Lloyd Webber and his producer, Cameron Mackintosh, had been highly enthusiastic when they broached Hill about his Phantom of the Opera. But in the end, Lloyd Webber chose to pursue the musical without Hill.
Phantom of the Opera then emerged on the other side of the Atlantic in 1987 for its American premiere in St. Louis at the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. This production starred Sal Mistretta as The Phantom - his performance won him the St. Louis Theatre Critics Award. A second US production was mounted in 1988 in San Francisco at the Theatre in the Square, produced by Jonathan Reinis.
The productions of Phantom of the Opera in St. Louis and San Francisco were so successful that Hill was asked to mount a national tour of the United States. Jonathan Reinis (who later produced Ken Hill’s The Invisible Man in London) formed Phantom Touring Company Inc. who acted as the producers for the tour, along with Electric Factory Concerts. The tour began in 1989, with musical arrangements and designs by the original Newcastle Playhouse team. It performed for a few years to packed houses all over America, travelling to approximately 110 cities, and grossing a total of $72 million.
In 1991, Phantom of the Opera returned to the United Kingdom where it embarked on a national tour produced by Stewart Macpherson and then transferred to London’s West End. It opened at The Shaftsbury Theatre on December 18, 1991, with a similar cast to the 1984 production - Peter Straker was The Phantom and Christina Collier as Christine. But despite positive reviews, the West End production did poorly at the box office at the time of IRA bombings, and closed earlier than expected, on April 11, 1992. However, the production was nominated for two Olivier Awards for Best New Musical and Best Director of a Musical, the latter of which placed Ken Hill against Simon Callow and Judi Dench. It left the West End to commence the first of several Japanese, Asian and Australasian tours all produced by Stewart Macpherson.
The movie starts with an auction being held in the Paris Opera House. The Opera has been shut down and they are auctioning off props to make some money. One of the items is a stuffed monkey dressed in Persian robes and playing the cymbals sitting on top of a music box. An older gentleman in a wheelchair buys the monkey and holds on to it tightly. The next item is a chandelier that was broken but has been repaired. When the chandelier is revealed, we are whisked back to 1870 ("Overture") where we see the opera house in full swing for it's performance of Hannibal by Chalemau. Rehearsals are under way when the Opera manager informs the cast and crew that he is leaving for Australia and that the Opera House is now under the command of Gilles Andre and Richard Firmin (Simon Callow and Cirian Hinds).
When they resume rehearsal, a stage prop falls on the lead diva, Carlotta (Minnie Driver). After she storms out refusing to sing, Madame Giry (Miranda Richardson), the ballet instructor, convinces the new owners to let Christine Daaé (Emmy Rossum), one of the dancers, to take Carlotta's part. After a stunning performance ("Think of Me"), Christine goes down to the small chapel under the Opera House to pray for her father who died long ago. Meg (Jennifer Ellison) one of the ballet dancers and Christine's best friend comes to find her inquiring of her singing prowess ("Angel of Music").
Later, Christine's childhood friend Raoul, the Vicomte de Changy and patron of the Opera House, comes to visit her in her dressing room. He had been in the audience and had recognized her. After inviting her to a party and leaving to prepare for the ride, Christine is locked in her room and hears singing. The Phantom (Gerard Butler) is mad at Raoul for taking credit in his work in training Christine to sing. He then lures Christine to a mirror where she sees him then follows him to his lair under the Opera House ("The Phantom of the Opera"). Once there the Phantom expresses his feelings for Christine and tries to convince her to stay with him ("Music of the Night"). Later she unmasks him and the Phantom is furious with her. Although he is raging and angry, he becomes vulnerable and begins crying. He wishes he didn't have a loathsome gargoyle face ("I Remember/Stranger Than You Dreamt It"). He then returns her to the surface.
While Christine is gone, Andre and Firmin are upset because Christine has disappeared and they no longer have a lead to play in the operas. After receiving a series of notes all signed O.G. (Opera Ghost) they find out that Christine has returned and they have been instructed by the Phantom to put Christine in the lead role of the upcoming opera II Muto. They refuse and put Carlotta in the lead part after convincing her to return ("Prima Donna") and give Christine a silent role, which infuriates the Phantom. He then disables Carlotta's voice giving her the voice of a toad, which forces the Opera managers to put Christine in the lead role. While Christine is getting ready, Joseph Buquet (Kevin McNally) finds the Phantom in the rafters and after trying to escape is caught and hung from the rafters on stage in full view of everyone. This frightens Christine and she runs to the roof with Raoul pursuing her where he comforts her telling her that he loves her and will never leave her ("All I Ask of You") The Phantom overhears and is now in a state of shock because Christine loves Raoul and not him.
Three months later, we see that the Opera House is in full swing without any appearance from the Phantom since he disabled Carlotta's voice. The Opera House is holding a Masquerade to celebrate ("Masquerade"). During the Masquerade the Phantom interrupts and presents the managers with a new Opera he has written called Don Juan. He then gives them an ultimatum. Follow his instructions or bad things will happen. Christine visits the graveyard where her father is buried ("Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again"). The Phantom is also there and tries to lure her to him but Raoul arrives and fights off the Phantom in a sword battle. They then leave the Phantom there and he swears to get revenge.
The performance of Don Juan has finally come and everyone is nervous. Raoul, Andre, and Firmin are positive the Phantom will make an appearance so they set a trap. Christine is torn. She explains that she can't be a part of the trap without the Phantom taking her back. The play starts and Christine comes on stage singing. Backstage, Piangi (Victor McGuire) is getting ready for his next scene when the Phantom kills him and takes his place on stage. Christine sings with the Phantom, expressing her love for him. Raoul, who is in the audience, sadly realizes that Christine loves the Phantom ("The Point of No Return"). The Phantom then sings passionately to Christine who takes his mask off, revealing to the audience the distortion of his face. He takes her once again down to his lair, causing the opera theatre to catch on fire in the progress after bringing down the chandelier ("Down Once More/Track Down This Murderer"). The Phantom gives Christine the ring that he took from her at the masquerade ball, and asks her to stay with him. Meanwhile, Raoul gets Madame Giry to take him to the Phantom's lair. She leaves Raoul halfway through their journey, and Raoul goes the rest of the way alone. After nearly drowning, he shows up in the Phantom's lair to save Christine. The Phantom then gives Christine the difficult desicion: she can either stay with the Phantom and Raoul (who has been tied up by the Phantom) goes free, or she refuses the Phantom and Raoul dies but Christine goes free. Christine decides to stay with the Phantom and tells him that he is not alone. She kisses him passionately. At this the Phantom realizes that Christine truly loves him, but his horrible actions have ruined any chance they have together. In an act of selflessness, he frees both Christine and Raoul. Christine gives the ring back to the Phantom who sadly tells Christine that he loves her. Christine forces herself to leave with Raoul in the boat. She looks back at the Phantom sadly, knowing that she loves him. Heartbroken, the Phantom destroys the mirrors and escapes through a secret passage just before the mob shows up. Meg Giry finds only his mask.
The scene then switches back to 1919. The elderly gentleman now known to be Raoul leaves the monkey music box on Christine's grave. He looks down and sees that the Phantom has left a rose tied with a black ribbon (his trademark) and the ring that he gave to Christine: the Phantom still loves her. Raoul sadly looks at it knowing that Christine truly loved the Phantom.
A new song was added to the show in 1992, especially for the first Japanese Tour, based upon an aria by Antonín Dvořák. The title of it was "All Of My Dreams Faded Suddenly" and is sung by the character Christine. It replaced "Love Has Flown, Never Returning," but not before the latter had been recorded onto the West End cast recording of Phantom of the Opera. It still remains there, and the newer song was never recorded and released officially.
Since 1992, Phantom of the Opera has toured the world, in countries such as New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Germany, Japan, Korea and the United Kingdom. The most recent UK tour took place in 2000/2001 and was produced by Chris Moreno at the Theatre Royal, Lincoln. It has been said that modern productions of Phantom of the Opera tend to place emphasis on the camp side of the show, sometimes poking fun at the Lloyd Webber version.
The most recent production of Phantom took place in 2013 in Tokyo, Japan running from December 19, 2013 to December 29, 2013. It was produced by Stewart Macpherson who originally produced the West End production in 1991.
The official cast recording of the show was released in 1993 by D Sharp Records. It featured the entire West End (Shaftesbury Theatre) cast, and includes all the songs in the show. It was also later released by two other record labels; Stetson Records (an off-shoot of The Stetson Group), and BMG. The latter versions of the CD were mainly sold in Japan (in Japanese packaging), Australia and New Zealand, on national tours.
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