The musical The Phantom of the Opera opened in London’s West End in 1986 and on Broadway in 1988. On Broadway, The Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running show, and it is the second longest-running show in the West End.
The original version of The Phantom of the Opera is beloved by fans. While some productions have undergone changes that deviate from the original on Broadway and in the West End, a majority of fans prefer the original version. Right now, productions in London and New York City are halted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19), and fans are worried the musical will be different when it returns.
Rumors began about the show changing
In March 2020, the West End show went on a hiatus due to the coronavirus. A few months later in June 2020, it was announced the show would not open again until 2021. With the extended closure, it was announced that Her Majesty’s Theatre would undergo needed refurbishments.
This announcement led an unconfirmed rumor to circulate that the show itself would be revamped.
“Apparently the plan is to renovate the theatre and bring in an ‘all new production’, like what recently happened with the West End production of Les Misérables. This ‘all-new’ production would reportedly reduce the size of the orchestra to the size of the of the touring version… The Gillian Lynne’s choreography and Hal Prince’s staging would be updated,” a fan speculated on theatrefan.co.uk.
‘The Phantom of the Opera’ fans started a petition
To try and stop the rumored changes, fans of the musical started a petition asking producer Cameron Mackintosh not to change the original West End production.
“In 2012, a Restaged UK Tour was launched… This tour is in fact, almost completely different from the iconic musical that is Phantom, save for some costumes and the music. Currently, it looks as if there could be some truth to the rumors that Cameron Mackintosh wants to change and/or replace the original version of the show with some or all of the Restaged version,” reads the petition.
The description of the petition continues, “All of these changes and redundancies would not only mean he would have to spend less on the production, but would not have to pay royalties to the late Hal Prince and Gillian Lynne, who were instrumental in creating the original version… Updating technology or facilities at the theatre might be necessary and even welcome to make the experience better for patrons and easier for the crew to run the show. But the design and core of the show should be left untouched.”
The musical’s creator, Andrew Lloyd Webber, told fans that he was doing everything he could to keep the original from being changed.
“Please believe me. I’m doing everything in my power to ensure that when the Phantom returns it is the brilliant original – ALW,” the composer tweeted.
The West End production of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ closed
For the past few months, it has appeared that Mackintosh and Lloyd Webber are not on the same page when it comes to The Phantom of the Opera. In July 2020, Mackintosh announced the West End production was “permanently” shut down with hopes to one day bring the show back.
However, Lloyd Webber posted a video on Twitter where he denied that the show closed.
“Now let that be a dire warning to anybody who says we won’t get Phantom back up there even better than it was before I hope. We’re going to have the original production and it will be fantastic,” he said.