Instead of Cats being labeled “Now and Forever,” that catchphrase should have been saved for The Phantom of the Opera.On Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, it will celebrate the unprecedented milestone of playing on Broadway 25 years and counting – and in one theater, the Majestic.

The occasion will be marked by a celebrity-studded gala performance hosted by composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, the genius behind the worldwide mega hit. The 6:30pm performance is invitation only, with attendees including POTO fans who entered and won the tickets sweepstakes to attend. An after-party is being held at the New York City Public Library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street.

In attendance will be co-producer Cameron Macintosh, director Hal Prince, original co-star Sarah Brightman, and hundreds of cast alumni. Sadly, co-creator Lloyd Webber won’t be. He’s having back surgery and sent a congratulatory message stating that it’s too painful to travel. While many details are being kept under wraps, a source close to the show stated, “There’ll be several surprises.” I wonder, with all the advances in technology these past 25 years, if it might be upgraded (to one like in the Vegas production which allows the Phantom to hang over audiences?).

Already the longest-running show in Broadway history, POTO, with the indelible stamp of Gillian Lynne’s choreography and the late Maria Björnson's production design and costumes, once again makes theatrical history. Stepping into this history are current stars Hugh Panaro (an off-and-on Phantom since 1992), Sierra Bogess (The Little Mermaid; co-star of the West End Phantom sequel Love Never Dies, which earned her a 2011 Olivier Award nomination), Kyle Barisich (Raoul), Michele McConnell (Carlotta), Aaron Galligan-Stierle (Monsieur André), Kevin Ligon (Monsieur Firmin), Cristin J. Hubbard (Madame Giry), and Marni Raa, who portrays Christine at certain performances.

The show has won more than 60 major theater awards, including seven 1988 Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and three Olivier Awards in the West End. The original cast recording, with over 40 million copies sold worldwide, is the best-selling cast recording of all time.

The Phantom of the Opera became the longest-running show in Broadway history on January 9, 2006 with its 7,486th performance (surpassing previous record-holder, Lloyd Webber’s Cats, and co-produced by Mackintosh). The West End production, which opened in 1986 at Her Majesty’s Theatre, celebrated 25 years in October 2011.

The musical’s worldwide grosses are estimated at over $5.6-billion, making POTO the most successful entertainment venture of all time. It’s had over 65,000 performances, attended by 130 million in 148 cities in 28 countries. Currently, there are four more productions: Budapest, Manila, Tokyo, and the U.K. national tour. Another will soon be mounted in Seoul.

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Key Subjects: 
Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Phantom of the Opera, Cameron Mackintosh
Writer: 
Ellis Nassour
Date: 
January 2013
Subtitle: 
First Broadway Show to Play 25 Years