Happy Anniversary: 29 Years on Broadway

It’s always easy for me to remember how long The Phantom of the Opera‘s been running on Broadway because it coincides with how many years I’ve been on this Earth. I was born in 1988, the year that the musical won its first Tony Award, so the show’s existence on Broadway is always as old as I am (or as old as I’m soon to be, as my actual birthday isn’t until August of every year).

The Phantom of the Opera isn’t Broadway’s longest-running musical ever for no reason. It’s captivated the hearts and souls of people not only across the nation but the entire world. Today on The Phantom of the Opera‘s 29th anniversary on Broadway, I wanted to do a dedication highlighting Broadway’s Phantoms. Check out the images below, and let your soul begin to soar!

1. Michael Crawford

michael crawford as phantom

2. Timothy Nolen

timothy as phantom


3. Cris Groenendaal


chris as phantom

4. Steve Barton

Steve Barton The Phantom of the Opera

5. Jeff Keller

Jeff Keller The Phantom of the Opera

6. Kevin Gray

Kevin Gray The Phantom of the Opera

7. Mark Jacoby

Mark Jacoby The Phantom of the Opera

8. Marcus Lovett

Marcus Lovett The Phantom of the Opera

9. Davis Gaines

Davis Gaines as Phantom

10. Thomas James O’Leary

Thomas James O'Leary as Phantom

11. Hugh Panaro

Hugh Panaro as Phantom

12. Ted Keegan

Ted Keegan Phantom of the Opera

13. Howard McGillin

Howard McGillin Phantom of the Opera

14. Brad Little

Brad Little as Phantom

15. Gary Mauer

Gary Mauer Phantom of the Opera

16. John Cudia

John Cudia Phantom of the Opera

17. Peter Joback

Peter Joback Phantom of the Opera

18. Laird Mackintosh

Laird Mackintosh as Phantom

19. Norm Lewis

Norm Lewis as Phantom

20. James Barbour

James Barbour Phantom of the Opera

And those, my fellow Phans, are the Phantoms of Broadway. James Barbour currently holds the title role, and if you’re wondering why there isn’t a Phantom for every year, it’s because some performers played the role for more than one year. Jacoby, Gaines, Panaro and McGillin, for instance, all wore the mask for more than one season.

Although I, personally, haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the show on Broadway, I have my favorites from the clips that I’ve seen across the internet and on the news. Among my faves are Hugh Panaro and John Cudia. (Of course, I’m probably biased when it comes to Cudia since he’s the first Phantom I saw back when I attended a performance of the 2006 U.S. Tour cast in St. Louis.) Not only do I simply love their voices, but I find their performances exceedingly emotional and heart-wrenching.

Who are your favorite Broadway Phantoms? Please feel free to post your thoughts and comments below.

Phantom of the Opera First Time

Do You Remember Your First Time?

How did you get into Phantom? 

It’s a question that all of us are asked as Phans, at one point or another, by other Phans. Just as enthusiasts of other hobbies like sharing their “first time” stories, so do we. As such, I thought it appropriate that my first post on this site be an account of just how I came to be a Phantom of the Opera enthusiast.

I was 16 and had seen the previews for the 2004 film starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum advertised on television commercials. I remember thinking how good the movie looked and how much I wanted to see it, but at that time, I didn’t really know what The Phantom of the Opera was. I believe I’d heard of it, but I wasn’t familiar with the story line. I just knew that the movie looked like the kind of romantic films that I was always falling in love with.

Unfortunately, the premiere of the movie came and went, and I didn’t get to see it in theaters. Then, one day, my dad rented a movie from the video store here in town. (Yes, a little more than a decade ago you could still rent videos from a video store. The video store my dad rented the 2004 film from is no more, but I digress…)

You can imagine my delight when he brought home The Phantom of the Opera for me to watch. He’d thoughtfully remembered how I’d been interested in that movie and picked it up for me. Of course, my dad’s a great guy like that and likes to spoil the ones he loves.

We, as a family (my mom, dad, brother, and I), all started watching. I think my mom, dad, and brother all eventually wandered off to do their own activities and didn’t finish watching the movie, but me..I was transfixed.

From the moment the first note of the overture was played, I was hooked, glued to the TV screen. I’d never really been a big fan of opera before (and, yes, I now know that the singing that Emmy and Gerard did in the 2004 film isn’t really opera, but back then, it was the first taste of operatic-ish music I’d gotten, so I believed it was real opera), but this…this I loved. I was enamored with the setting, the costumes, the story, and, most importantly, the music.

This was the first movie that I ever cried watching. While I certainly experienced sadness and despair over other tragic movies, such as Titanic, I’d never actually had the physical reaction of tears at my emotion when watching a movie before. Generally, I wasn’t a crier during movies, no matter how sad they were. It took The Phantom of the Opera to bring that out in me.

From that moment on, I was obsessed. I immediately watched the movie again right after it ended, and this time I turned on the subtitles so I could learn every word that was being said, or rather, sung. I watched it over and over again for the three days that we had it rented from the movie rental store and pretty much had it memorized when the time came to return it to the video store.

Of course, from that moment on, for birthdays, Christmases, and any other special occasions that warranted gifts, I wanted anything that had to do with the classic tale.

First, I acquired the 2-disc Deluxe CD set of the original motion picture soundtrack:

Phantom of the Opera Deluxe CD
Phantom of the Opera Deluxe CD

Followed shortly by the 2-disc Special Edition original motion picture DVD:

Phantom of the Opera DVD
Phantom of the Opera DVD

Then, came the books, original soundtrack, and so on. I read all the POTO fan fiction I could find online at (Back then there wasn’t the great plethora of published POTO-inspired books that there is today.)

Eventually, as part of my high school graduation gift, my parents took my bestie and me to see the musical performed live in St. Louis in the summer of 2006. The next year, in the summer of 2007, we went again to see Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular in Las Vegas. While I can go on and on providing reviews of both of those productions, I’ll save those for later posts.

So that’s my story in a nutshell. While there are many Phans who are critics of the 2004 film, for me it will always be a favorite simply because had it not been for the film, I might not have ever discovered POTO.

What’s your story? Feel free to post any thoughts or comments below.