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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 reach an unprecedented milestone when it celebrates its Twentieth Anniversary on Broadway on Saturday, January 26th. On that date, playing its 8,318th and 8,319th performances at The Majestic Theatre (247 West 44th Street), it will become the first Broadway production ever to run 20 years.

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.

Its international success – equally staggering – is represented by total worldwide grosses estimated at over $5 billion. This colossal figure makes PHANTOM the most successful entertainment venture of all time, surpassing not only any other stage production, but also far surpassing the world’s highest-grossing film Titanic (at $1.2 billion) and such other blockbusters as The Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park and Star Wars. Worldwide attendance is over 80 million people.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has always been a record-breaker, with the New York production setting benchmarks that have dominated the industry: for capitalization (a then-spectacular $8 million), total advance (a then-enormous $18 million), total gross and attendance ($675 million and 12.5 million and counting), total performances (becoming the first and still only show to ever reach 8,000), and even the number of years before a single ticket was ever sold at the TKTS ticket booth in Times Square (over 14 years, which is still the record, by a long shot). And since becoming the longest-running show in Broadway history in 2006, each performance has set a new longevity record.

The musical has also broken all touring records. It continues to be the longest continuously-touring show in U.S. history, with the first of its three National Tours having gone out over 19 years ago in May 1989. The current tour is the longest-running touring production in U.S. history, having recently celebrated its 15th Anniversary on December 13, 2007, and having played over 6,000 performances.

In addition to PHANTOM’s amazing longevity and continued box office success, the Broadway production consistently earns rave reviews from returning critics:

In The New York Times, Jason Zinoman proclaimed, “PHANTOM still delivers the goods! Judging by sheer invention, emotional punch and onstage talent, the venerable blockbuster still beats out almost all of the whippersnappers currently on Broadway. Maria Björnson’s flamboyant gothic design and Harold Prince’s fantastical staging still have the gleam of finely polished professionalism. The solid cast retains the freshness of opening night.”

Clive Barnes of The New York Post gave it “FOUR STARS! A marvelous musical! PHANTOM has stayed in terrific shape and right now it is still as taut and sharp as on that first night in 1988. Harold Prince’s crisp staging remains as shipshape as ever. Maria Björnson’s opulent production perfectly captures the spirit and style of the Paris Opera and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sweepingly romantic score is one of the finest scores Broadway has ever heard. Don’t miss it!”

Roma Torre of NY-1 News proclaimed, “PHANTOM rules! It remains as fresh and spectacular as ever. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score has a visceral tug more than almost any score written in the past 20 years. Beautiful and romantic, I have to tip my hat: THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA has aged divinely.”

Time Out’s David Cote exclaimed, “They’re doing something right! A beautifully produced show, PHANTOM is lavish and played well enough to get standing ovations nearly two decades into its run!”

And David Richardson on WOR Radio raved, “PHANTOM is still wonderful and isn’t showing its age one bit! The chandelier still falls on cue and the show still rises to the top of all the musicals ever to appear on Broadway. I hope I listen to the music of the night forever!”

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA had its world premiere on October 9, 1986 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London, winning every major British theatre award including the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards. The New York production opened on January 26, 1988 with a then record advance of $18 million. The musical went on to sweep the 1988 Tony Awards, winning seven, including Best Musical. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA also won seven Drama Desk Awards and three Outer Critics Circle Awards. The original London cast recording was the first in British musical history to enter the charts at number one. It has since gone both gold and platinum in Britain and the U.S. selling over 40 million copies worldwide.

Base 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.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA stars Howard McGillin in the tile role with Jennifer Hope Wills as Christine and Tim Martin Gleason as Raoul. Having donned the mask in over 2,000 times, Mr. McGillin has performed the title role more than any other actor in the Broadway production.

The musical also co-stars George Lee Andrews (Monsieur André; Mr. Andrews is the only cast member to have been with the Broadway production for the entire run), 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 Webber. THE 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).