“The Phantom of the Opera,” the longest-running show in Broadway history and, for many, a symbol of musical theater, will be closing in February, becoming the latest show to fall victim to the decline in audiences since the pandemic hit.
The show, about a mask-wearing opera lover who haunts the Paris Opera House and becomes obsessed with a young soprano, is famous for the chandelier which crashes onto the stage each night, and is characterized by over-the-top spectacle and melodrama.
The Phantom of the Opera, though most people may not know it or care, has literary roots, Gaston Leroux’s original French novel was published in 1910, but that had long been deeply influenced by Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris (1831), known in most versions as The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
The closing is both long-expected — no show runs forever, and box office takes have been softening — and surprising, because after more than three decades as practically a symbol of theater, “Phantom” had come to seem like a permanent part of the Broadway landscape, a period piece and a tourist magnet that withstood the ups and downs of the commercial theater marketplace.
But in the year since Broadway returned from its damaging pandemic lockdown, the theatergoing audience has not fully rebounded, and “Phantom,” which came back strong last fall, has not been selling well enough to defray its high weekly running costs.
The show will commemorate its 35th anniversary in January, and then will play its final performance on Broadway on Feb. 18, according to a spokesman. The cast, crew and orchestra were informed of the decision on Friday.