It was 1984 when Andrew Lloyd Webber first contacted Cameron Mackintosh with the idea of making a musical from The Phantom of the Opera story. That same year the pair, together with Sarah Brightman, saw a stage production of the story at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. From there they resolved to create a musical version based on the French novel and the original score which was created is described by Mackintosh as one of Lloyd Webber’s “greatest”.
It was also Lloyd Webber’s idea to make the love triangle between Phantom, Christine and Raoul the emotional centre of the story and, in the summer of 1985, a first draft of the first act was presented in at Lord Lloyd Webber’s home, Sydmonton in Berkshire. Richard Stilgoe agreed to write the lyrics and and designer Maria Bjornson miraculously created a stage design, complete with dropping chandelier, on the front lawn.
Phantom was well received and the rest, as they say, is history. The original production went into rehearsal in London in August 1986 and Phantom opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre in October. It became one of London’s greatest ever musical successes and its trio of original stars, Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman and Steve Barton, triumphed with the show on Broadway.
Photo credit: Alistair Muir
Over the last 25 years, Phantom has enjoyed phenomenal success, breaking box office records worldwide and, since 1986, the original version has been seen around the world.
The touring show, which opens in Birmingham at the Hippodrome today, is a lavish new production which has allowed the music of the night to be heard at theatres not large enough to accommodate the original production.
Phantom is in town for eight weeks – have you got your ticket yet? Hotel La Tour Birmingham is delighted to be accommodation partner and is also sponsoring the show’s gala fundraising dinner: more on the blog about this next week.