A cautious, glorious return for Broadway's 'Phantom'

New York’s Broadway theaters - the life blood of the city’s tourism industry – are finally filling up again with music, dance and cheers.

For “Phantom of the Opera”- which first opened at the Majestic Theatre in 1988, making it Broadway’s longest-running show - it has been an especially emotional return…

the show having abruptly closed on March 12th of 2020 as some cast and crew members fell sick.

Lead actress Meghan Picerno spent 2020 living in North Carolina with her parents and claiming unemployment benefits.

Now, after weeks of rehearsal – with plenty of health protocols in place – she is finally back on stage.

"When I first came here for my costume fitting, I cried the whole way here. I cried when I saw the chandelier. I cried in the company office. I cried downstairs, putting on my, my clothes. I cried seeing everyone for the first time."

Opening night last week drew none other than the show’s famed musical composer, Andrew Lloyd Weber – who even DJ-ed at the after-party.

Weber told Reuters he managed to find a silver lining in the show’s more than 18-month break.

“This does give me the opportunity to reset the dial. It gives the whole production a chance to re-rehearse as if it's a new show from scratch.”

The reset also means vaccinations, weekly testing and daily health questionnaires for all involved in the production – not to mention a lot more laundry for the many lavish costumes, says production tailor Annette Lovece.

“We will be cleaning costumes between shows. We'll be running a lot more laundry. We'll be sending things to the dry cleaner more frequently than we did before. There will also be differences in spacing backstage. We're gonna try to keep people not as close together, which will be a challenge because it's so crowded back here.”

Just a few blocks away, the Disney musical "Aladdin" was forced to close for two weeks soon after its September reopening due to some actors testing positive….

leaving all who work on the Great White Way acutely aware of the stakes and just how special this moment is.

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