Michael Craw­ford sur­prises au­di­ence at Phan­tom of the Opera

Malta Independent - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Michael Craw­ford, the orig­i­nal star of Phan­tom of the Opera, made a sur­prise ap­pear­ance on stage as the mu­si­cal cel­e­brated its 30th an­niver­sary.

The ac­tor re­ceived a stand­ing ovation from a de­lighted au­di­ence as he joined cast mem­bers to sing “happy birth­day” dur­ing a spe­cial fi­nale at Her Majesty’s The­atre on Mon­day night.

“It’s quite thrilling to be back,” Craw­ford said af­ter­wards.

“It’s a very, very spe­cial show in a very, very spe­cial the­atre.”

Craw­ford had dashed to join the cel­e­bra­tions after per­form­ing in his own West End mu­si­cal, The Go-Be­tween, which ends its run this week at the Apollo The­atre.

“I have to pray I’ve got a voice to­mor­row,” Craw­ford quipped, “we’ve still got five days to go.”

An­drew Lloyd Web­ber’s Phan­tom of the Opera opened at Her Majesty’s on 9 Oc­to­ber 1986 with Craw­ford star­ring op­po­site Sarah Bright­man as Chris­tine.

It is the third long­est run­ning show in the West End after The Mouse Trap and Les Mis­er­ables.

Craw­ford said one of the per­ils of play­ing the Phan­tom was hav­ing to avoid the holes where can­dles came up through the stage floor.

“I was al­ways wor­ried the can­dles were go­ing up my trouser leg,” he said.

“It’s won­der­ful to see the amaz­ing com­pany tonight,” he added. “It’s the most su­perb show. This was one of the last great mu­si­cals where a lot of money was spent.”

The birth­day cel­e­bra­tion also fea­tured for­mer cast mem­bers Michael Ball singing along­side cur­rent mem­bers Ben Forster (The Phan­tom), Celinde Schoen­maker (Chris­tine) and Nadim Naa­man (Raoul).

Sierra Boggess, who will play Chris­tine in the first French ver­sion of Phan­tom, per­formed the song Wish­ing You Were Some­how Here Again ac­com­pa­nied by Lord Lloyd-Web­ber on pi­ano.

The open­ing of the French pro­duc­tion was can­celled after a fire last month at the Mo­gador The­atre in Paris. The show had been due to be­gin on 13 Oc­to­ber.

Speak­ing on­stage at Her Majesty’s The­atre on Mon­day night, Lord Lloyd-Web­ber re­called how Craw­ford had been rec­om­mended to him by the singing teacher of his then-wife Sarah Bright­man.

He went on: “Ev­ery­body says what a huge spec­ta­cle Phan­tom is, but it is in fact a very sim­ple set.”

“But it’s quite ex­pen­sive,” added the show’s pro­ducer Sir Cameron Mack­in­tosh.

Sir Cameron said that he and Lord Lloyd-Web­ber were “thrilled” that Phan­tom had reached its 30th an­niver­sary.

“We both loved mu­si­cal the­atre,” he said. “We wanted to do some­thing new with it, but at the same time em­brace its past.”

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