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'Phantom' Celebrates 20th Year with TV Segments

The most successful stage musical of all time, the Cameron Mackintosh/Really Useful Group, Inc. production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's The Phantom of the Opera, directed by Harold Prince, will be featured this week with television segments on both NBC's Weekend Today and FOX-5's Good Day, New York. 

The appearances are in connection with the musical becoming the first show in Broadway history to reach its 20th Anniversary, an unprecedented milestone that it will celebrate this Saturday, January 26th.  On that date, the musical will play its 8,318th and 8,319th performances at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street), and become the first Broadway production ever to have played 20 years.  The musical is already the longest-running show in Broadway history.

This Friday, January 25 – the day before the milestone anniversary – the musical will be featured with two segments on the popular morning show Good Day, New York, which airs weekday mornings on the New York/tri-state affiliate FOX-5.  Two segments, at approximately 7:30 AM and 8:30 AM, will feature an exclusive look at how the on-stage boat is operated, the hour-long make-up process for 'The Phantom' and interviews with stars Howard McGillin ('The Phantom') and Jennifer Hope Wills ('Christine').  Having donned the mask in over 2,000 performances, Mr. McGillin has performed the title role more than any other actor in the Broadway production.  

On Sunday, January 27 – the day after the milestone anniversary – the musical will be featured with a segment on the national edition of NBC's Weekend Today.  During the 9 o'clock hour, the segment will profile five The Phantom of the Opera company members who have been with the show all 20 years: cast member George Lee Andrews ('Monsieur André'; the only cast member to have been with the Broadway production for its entire run), usher Sylvia Bailey (an 82 year-old former dancer at The Roxy Theatre in New York in the 1940s), flyman Jack Farmer, make-up supervisor Thelma Pollard and stage doorman Wally Carroll.

The longest-running show in Broadway history (a feat it achieved in January 2006 when it surpassed the then-record run of Cats), the musical is the winner of 7 1988 Tony Awards including Best Musical.  Since its Broadway debut on January 26, 1988, The Phantom of the Opera has grossed over $675 million, making it the highest-grossing show in Broadway history.  Total New York attendance is at 12.5 million.  It has since gone on to play over 8,000 performances – the only show in Broadway history to do so – and all with no end in sight.

"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," explain press notes.

The Phantom of the Opera stars Howard McGillin in the title role with Jennifer Hope Wills as 'Christine' and Tim Martin Gleason as 'Raoul.'  

The musical also co-stars George Lee Andrews ('Monsieur André'), David Cryer ('Monsieur Firmin'), Patricia Phillips ('Carlotta'), Marilyn Caskey ('Madame Giry'), Wayne Hobbs ('Piangi') and Heather McFadden ('Meg Giry').  At certain performances, Elizabeth Loyacano plays 'Christine.' 

The Phantom of the Opera has 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 Richard Stilgoe and Andrew Lloyd WebberThe Phantom of the Opera has production design by the late Maria Björnson, lighting by Andrew Bridge and sound by Martin Levan.  Musical staging and choreography is by Gillian Lynne.  Orchestrations are by David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The regular performance schedule for The Phantom of the Opera is Monday and Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Tuesday evenings at 7 p.m. with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 p.m.  For tickets, $26.25-$111.25, call Tele-charge at (212) 239-6200, visit www.telecharge.com or visit The Majestic Theatre box office (247 West 44th Street). Vist www.thephantomoftheopera.com

Howard McGillin and Jennifer Hope Wills (photo by Joan Marcus)

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