Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sarah Brightman bid farewell to 'Phantom' tour at Pantages
When the cast of "The Phantom of the Opera" played its final performance at Hollywood's Pantages Theatre on Sunday, the real star of the evening was to be found in the audience. A few minutes before the curtain went up, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber entered the orchestra section of the theater and quietly took his seat.
Lloyd Webber later appeared on stage for the curtain call, receiving an enthusiastic standing ovation. He also brought out Sarah Brightman, the original Christine on Broadway, who reaped even bigger cheers. The two stars were on hand to celebrate the farewell performance of the current "Phantom" U.S. tour, produced by the Music Box Company.
The tour began in 1992 and has played 7,284 performances in 76 cities. It was the third national tour of "Phantom" and the only one still active in the U.S. Lloyd Webber spoke briefly at the end of Sunday's performance and offered a glimpse of things to come. " 'Phantom' will be back, I promise you," he told the audience.
"Phantom" continues to play on Broadway at the Majestic Theatre, where it opened in 1988 and has run for more than 9,000 performances. The London run of the musical recently surpassed the 10,000-performance milestone. An abridged version of the musical is running in Las Vegas at the Venetian.
Lloyd Webber appeared hale and energetic on Sunday. The Tony-winning composer was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2009 but is in remission. He is currently working on the "Phantom" sequel, "Love Never Dies," whose Broadway run has been delayed. The London production of "Love Never Dies" has received mixed to negative reviews.
On Sunday, Lloyd Webber was introduced on stage by actor Tim Martin Gleason, who played the Phantom. The actor also read a note from director Harold Prince, who could not be in attendance. In the note, Prince joked that his absence was due to his preparation for Tuesday's election. Gleason also paid tribute to producer Cameron Mackintosh (also not in attendance) as well as the show's choreographer, music director and other creative-team members.
The recent "Phantom" touring cast also included Trista Moldovan as Christine, Sean MacLaughlin as Raoul and Kim Stengel as Carlotta.
-- David Ng
Photos, from top: Andrew Lloyd Webber (right), with Tim Martin Gleason. Sarah Brightman. Credit: Angela Weiss /Getty Images
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