"The Phantom Of The Opera" Will End Its Reign As The Longest Running Broadway Show Next Year

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The Phantom of the Opera will close its 35-year run on Broadway in February, becoming the latest victim in a postpandemic shift that has resulted in a decline in audience numbers.

The musical based on the 1910 French novel of the same name is the longest-running show on Broadway, so its closure on Feb. 18 will mark an end of an era. The story, about a Paris composer whose mask hides a facial deformity and his obsession with a young soprano, became a classic with grand set designs and iconic songs like “The Music of the Night.”

But not everything lasts forever, and the start of doom on Broadway kicked off on March 11, 2020, when an usher tested positive for COVID-19, setting off a scramble in the theater community to clean venues and protect against transmission. The next day, Broadway closed.

The show eventually reopened to an excited crowd, but that enthusiasm didn't translate to a surge in attendance, with 2022 seeing smaller audiences compared to prepandemic years. A spokesperson for the musical did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but the Associated Press reported that revenues had also been fluctuating, which likely didn't bode well for such an expensive production.

Audiences can still see the show in London and Australia. China will also open its own production next year and Andrew Lloyd Webber and Antonio Banderas are working on a Spanish version for their new company, Amigos Para Siempre.

Emilie Kouatchou, who in January became the first-ever Black woman to play the lead role of Christine Daaé, told Today about the audience's support when she first appeared onstage as an understudy.

“I remember feeling like, ‘OK, no matter what happens, the people out there have me and the people backstage have me and are supporting me,'" Kouatchou said. "I remember it being a whirlwind and being extremely tired by the end, ready to drop. But yeah, it was a wonderful night.”