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Broadway's 'The Phantom of the Opera' to close after nearly 35 years

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Yuck - one last time. "The Phantom Of The Opera" will close in February. It is the longest-running show on Broadway - almost 35 years - and seems almost as much a part of the place as pizza by the slice and shops selling Statue of Liberty snow globes. The post-pandemic audience is down, and "Phantom" production costs are high. This isn't a Beckett play, with two characters talking about the monotony of existence. "Phantom" tells the story of an opera aficionado who haunts the Paris Opera House and wore a mask long before COVID made masks fashion statements, features a full orchestra and dazzling stagecraft, especially a chandelier that swoops on cue. The show contains some of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's best-known songs, including the title number "All I Ask Of You" and - I tear just think of it - "The Music Of The Night."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE MUSIC OF THE NIGHT")

MICHAEL CRAWFORD: (As the Phantom of the Opera, singing) Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams. Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before.

SIMON: "Phantom" may be leaving Broadway, but it leaves many memories among the 19.8 million people who've seen it in various stagings in 17 different languages. A new production in Mandarin will soon make that 18, and the show still runs in London. As a masked man sings, the Phantom of the Opera is there inside your mind.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA")

CRAWFORD: (As the Phantom of the Opera, singing) The Phantom of the Opera is there inside your mind.

SIMON: But BJ Leiderman still writes our theme music. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.