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Original Phantom Michael Crawford to Participate in Show's Record-Breaking Celebration

Since its Broadway debut on January 26, 1988, The Phantom of the Opera has grossed nearly $600 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history; total Broadway attendance is at approximately 11 million. In addition to the milestone anniversary on January 9th, The Phantom of the Opera will also become the first Broadway production to reach its eighteenth anniversary on January 26th, 2006.

Plans are still under wraps for just how the show will celebrate it's longevity, but original star Michael Crawford's web site reports that "
Michael has just contacted us with great news. On Monday, January 9, 2006 when THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA becomes Broadway's longest running production in history, Michael will be at the Majestic Theatre to join the Broadway company, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh, Harold Prince and other special guests in the celebration.."

Juggling both film and stage careers, Michael Crawford had established himself as one of London's finest leading men long before he opened as "the Phantom" in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera beginning one of the most widely acclaimed and memorable performances in theatre history. Few stars are as widely connected to a single role as Crawford is to "the Phantom." His Los Angeles and Broadway performances earned an astonishing catalogue of critical recognition including the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, and the Los Angeles Dramalogue Award and Drama Critics Award.

Since leaving "Phantom" after nearly four years in the role in London, New York and Los Angeles; Crawford has become a multi-platinum recording artist and one of the worlds's most sought after concert and stage performers, playing to sold-out venues around the globe. In addition to his recent concert work, stage credits in London and on Broadway include Billy, Flowers for Algernon, Black Comedy, Dance of the Vampires and Barnum.

Michael Crawford's most recent theatrical appearance took place in 2004, originating the role of Count Fosco in Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Woman in White, for which he won both the Variety Club, and awards.

Film and television work include Hello, Dolly! starring Barbra Streisand, directed by Gene Kelly, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Knack, The Jokers, How I Won the War with John Lennon, The Games, Hello and Goodbye, Alices Adventures in Wonderland and Condorman.

Crawford's solo recording career includes Michael Crawford performs Andrew Lloyd Webber, A Touch of Music in the Night, On Eagle's Wings, Michael Crawford in Concert, Songs from the Stage and Screen, With Love, A Christmas Album, and Michael Crawford: A Disney Album.

Based on the classic novel Le Fantôme de L'Opéra by Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera "tells the story of a masked figure who lurks beneath the catacombs of the Paris Opera House, exercising a reign of terror over all who inhabit it. He falls madly in love with an innocent young soprano, Christine, and devotes himself to creating a new star by nurturing her extraordinary talents and by employing all of the devious methods at his command," according to press notes.

Howard McGillin, who has played the title role on Broadway more than any other performer, will play the Phantom for the record-breaking performance. Sandra Joseph, who has played the role of Christine throughout the country including over 1,000 times on Broadway, will co-star. Joining them are Tim Martin Gleason as Raoul, George Lee Andrews (who has been with the show for the entire run) as Monsieur André, Tim Jerome as Monsieur Firmin, Anne Runolfsson as Carlotta, Marilyn Caskey as Madame Giry, Larry Wayne Morbitt as Piangi, Heather McFadden as Meg. (Currently on maternity leave, McFadden will return the first week in January. Until then, the role of Meg is being played by Kara Klein, direct from the national tour in her Broadway debut). At certain performances, Rebecca Pitcher, most recently Christine with the current national tour, plays the role of Christine.

The Phantom of the Opera features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and is directed by Harold Prince. Lyrics are by Charles Hart (with additional lyrics by Richard Stilgoe) and the book is by Stilgoe and Lloyd Webber. The musical has production design by the late Maria Björnson, lighting by Andrew Bridge and sound by Martin Levan, with musical staging and choreography by Gillian Lynne. Orchestrations are by David Cullen and Lloyd Webber.

The Phantom of the Opera
had its world premiere on October 9, 1986 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London, winning every major British theatre award including the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards. The New York production, starring London stars Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman, opened on January 26, 1988. The musical won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

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