The day after the 1925 silent film of The Phantom of the Opera was shown in Royce Hall (see the blog entry below), the national tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical had its final run in the Pantages Theater in LA, less than thirty minutes away from UCLA.  After running over twenty years, the tour closed Halloween night, leaving only the Broadway and Las Vegas productions still available for audiences in the U.S.

The story of The Phantom of the Opera, which has become widely known through Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical version, actually had humble beginnings.  It all started with French novelist, Gaston Leroux.  In 1910, Leroux published the original novel Le Fantôme de L’Opéra about a disfigured man named Erik who lived beneath the Paris Opera House.  The 1925 silent film that was shown last week in Royce Hall is the first adaptation of the novel, staying true to the story’s plot and characters.  It is said that original audience members fainted at the sight of The Phantom’s disfigured face.  In 1986, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical took the stage in London and soon moved to Broadway in 1988 where it has remained ever since.  Even though it is the most famous version of the story, Lloyd Webber’s musical is not the most accurate, changing the entire ending as well as keeping The Phantom a nameless figure.  (Also, audience members have yet to faint at the sight of the Phantom’s stage makeup – but it’s good enough).

Perhaps such changes were necessary to turn the little-known horror story into a popular love tale with the opening of the dramatic theme song on everybody’s minds.  Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera garnered the prestigious 1986 Oliver Award and 1988 Tony Award, and is now the longest running musical on Broadway with over 9,000 performances.  I would think that these successes would be enough reason to keep the tour going, but I suppose everything must come to an end.

Despite the closing of the national tour, fans need not be disappointed, as the musical has a sequel called Love Never Dies which newly opened in London in March 2010 and is already scheduled to come to Broadway in the spring of 2011. Who knows, maybe the tour closed in order to leave room for a national run of Love Never Dies?

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