Ode to a Phantom

By Jody Key – Managing Editor

Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy

April 17, 2023

The final curtain has closed on the legendary Phantom of the Opera at the historical Majestic Theater nestled in Shubert Alley in NYC. For a week last summer I called Schubert Alley and the Row Times Square hotel my home, and for one glorious night during that week, I was haunted by the Phantom as I sat in the balcony in absolute amazement.

When I see a show, I take in every element. Having worked in every aspect of theater, and reviewed over 100 shows, my mind multitasks as I take in the performances, music, choreography, sets, costumes, lights, and sound all the other minutiae that go into a production. I start to wonder and ask questions in my mind—how did they pull off that technical element? Who did the leading player train with? How was that lighting effect achieved? What caused the writer, director, or actor to make that choice? Etc…..

My thoughts as I watched Phantom centered around, “If this show closes, what will ever replace the scope and size of a production such as this on Broadway, or anywhere else?

Here are a few facts about the show taken from thephantomoftheopera.com:

    • The dazzling replica of the Paris Opera House chandelier is made up of 6,000 beads consisting of 35 beads to each string. It is 3 metres wide and weighs one ton. The touring version falls at 2.5 metres per second. The original version was built by 5 people in 4 weeks.
    • The Phantom’s make-up takes 2 hours to put on and 30 minutes to take off. The face is moisturised, closely shaved and the prosthetics are fitted, setting immediately, before 2 wigs, 2 radio microphones and 2 contact lenses (one white and one clouded) are placed.
    • 2,230 metres of fabric are used for the drapes, 900 of them specially dyed. The tasselled fringes measure 226 metres. They are made up of 250 kilos of dyed wool interwoven with 5,000 wooden beads imported from India. Each one is handmade and combed through with an Afro comb.
    • There are 130 cast, crew and orchestra members directly involved in each performance.
    • Each performance has 230 costumes, 14 dressers, 120 automated cues, 22 scene changes, 281 candles and uses 250 kg of dry ice and 10 fog and smoke machines.

Watching from my perch above the stage, I was in awe of the size of the company in this colassaI production. I was mesmerized by a show that brought the best elements of the arts together: opera, ballet, symphony, and musical theater. The sets and chandelier are masterpieces, the light design impeccable, and the sound design unparalleled. Hearing the Phantom ”jump” from one area of the theater to another through hidden surround sound speakers was an eerie and very realistic effect. Watching the chandelier crash down just before intermission was also incredible. Even though I knew that sitting under the prop was historically safe, I joked that if we got seats under the chandelier, I wasn’t staying (we purchased pot-luck tickets through TDF). Thank goodness we were in the balcony!

As the company and crew of The Phantom of the Opera strikes the set, I want to say BRAVO and thank you for 35 years of pure magic!! I wish all of the cast and crew breaks legs in their future endeavors. Thank you Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Cameron MacIntosh for enchanting us!!

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