After 35 years and almost 14,000 performances, the curtain fell for the final time Sunday on the longest-running show in Broadway - The Phantom of the Opera.

Since opening in January 1988, Andrew Lloyd Webber's megahit musical has wowed New Yorkers and Tourists alike, becoming a symbol of the famous theater district.

The melodrama about a disfigured genius who haunts the Paris Opera House and whose heart aches for the young soprano Christine has been seen by 20 million people and grossed over $1.4 billion in ticket sales.

But producers decided it was time to end the  record-breaking run after the show struggled to rebound from Broadway's 18-month closure during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The show, adapted from Gaston`leroux's French novel of the same name, won seven 1988 Tony awards, including best musical, and became the longest-running-show in Broadway history on January 9, 2006.

The production estimates that it has employed 6,500 people, including 450 actors, over the years.

Sunday's show in front of a sold-out crowd at the Majestic Theater off Times Square was performance number 13,981. The 1,600 strong audience stood up and applauded wildly as Lloyd Webber joined original and current cast members on the stage for the curtain call.

British producer Cameron Mackintosh told the New York Times in September last year that the production began incurring losses due to the slow return of international visitors to the Big Apple after the pandemic.

Rising production costs, which were at $950,000 net a week, were also a factor. It takes about 125 actors, musicians and technicians to put on the musical, which sees a chandelier crash to the stage during one of its most memorable acts.

''There comes a point, with any show, where there is a tipping point, where the number of good weeks has declined sufficiently that actually it's outweighed by the number of losing weeks, and at that point, there's only one sensible decision to make,'' Mackintosh said.

The announcement that Phantom was to end its run boosted demand for tickets so much that the closing date was pushed back from February to April. In the run-up to the final performance recently, the last tickets were selling for more than $500 on booking sites.

Extensive renovations are due to begin at the Majestic Theater.

The World Students Society thanks author AFP.


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