After more than three decades, “The Phantom of the Opera” is getting ready to hang his mask on Broadway.
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical has been played to more than 145 million people worldwide in 41 countries, 183 cities and in 17 languages — and has received 70 major theater awards, including seven Tony Awards and four Olivier Awards.
The show also lays claim to the title of the largest job producer in US theater history. During its run, “Phantom” created an estimated 6,500 jobs, including those of 400 actors, in New York City while generating $1.3 billion in ticket sales. The show’s final performance at the Majestic Theater is scheduled for April 16.
Casting director Tara Rubin has been helping pick the actors for the beloved musical for more than three decades — she works just down the street from the Majestic.
“Phantom of the Opera” Casting Director Tara Rubin
“I never really dreamed I’d have a job like this,” Rubin told TBEN. “In 1987, when we first started casting, I typed all the casting sheets we used in auditions on a Selectric typewriter.”
At the time, she also phoned the agents—instead of emailing them—and did it all on a dial phone.
“[Phantom’s] remained so long in the streets, and then in the city. It’s inspired other shows, it’s inspired people to become actors,” Rubin said.
Rubin is just one of 20 “lifers” who have worked on the show for over three decades.
“Phantom of the Opera” Dresser Ron Blakley
Dresser Ron Blakley is another lifer who worked backstage in the wardrobe department when the curtain first went up on the Majestic.
Blakley’s job is to inspect the show’s costumes to make sure they are in top condition. He gave TBEN a tour of his backstage space, which is filled with intricate beaded costumes and ball gowns.
After each performance, Blakley checks the costumes for signs of wear and tear. “I’ll take a needle and some thread and I’ll stitch it and I’ll put the back back in place.”
But what will he miss most?
“The people,” Blakley said.
“Phantom of the Opera” Chief Electrician Alan Lampel
The one-ton chandelier is the centerpiece of the show. It flies over the audience every night. For three decades, chief electrician Alan Lampel kept the lights on.
It’s called “Ruthie Two,” in homage to assistant director Ruth Mitchell, he said.
Lampel said he’s seen hundreds of actors come and go on “Phantom,” but the chandelier hasn’t left the stage since opening night.
“I watch it from my perch back there in the orchestra. And it’s pretty powerful,” he said.
Beneath the chandelier sits another lifer in the orchestra pit, violinist Jan Mullen.
“Phantom of the Opera” Violinist Jan Mullen
She is one of 27 musicians who make up one of Broadway’s largest orchestras.
“In music like this, which is complex, there’s always something else you can see or do with it,” said Mullen, who never expected to land the job when she auditioned after graduating from Juilliard.
“This is as good as it gets,” Mullen said. “I’m so glad so many people got to enjoy it.”