This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Hugh Panaro and Sara Jean Ford lead the current cast of Broadway’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

Majestic Theatre
247 West 44th St. between Broadway & Eighth Aves.
Tickets: $26.50 - $226.50

On January 26, 1988, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s London smash, opened on the Great White Way, presented by Cameron Mackintosh and the Really Useful Theatre Company and directed by Hal Prince. On November 29 of this year, PHANTOM, which won seven Tonys, including Best Musical, staged its 9,500th performance, extending its record as the longest running show in Broadway history. And having seen its latest incarnation on December 28, we can’t for the life of us figure out how. The two-and-a-half-hour spectacle is far from spectacular; it’s poorly paced, has plot holes you could crash a giant chandelier through, and contains not a single memorable song. The sets are adequate at best, the performances Gilbert & Sullivan-lite. The current cast features Hugh Panaro as the fourteenth Phantom, Sean McLaughlin as Raoul (we saw Paul A. Schaeffer, who usually plays the marksman), Sara Jean Ford as Christine (sharing the role each week with Marni Raab), and Liz McCartney as Carlotta, but they are hamstrung by Charles Hart’s lyrics, Richard Stilgoe’s book, Sir Andrew’s music, and the generally uninspiring staging and sets. Gaston Leroux’s 1909-10 serialized novel about a mysterious figure haunting the Paris Opera House has been turned into numerous films and plays, but it’s a shame that this dreary operetta is the one that seems to have most captured the public’s imagination.

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