The New York Times

Sunday January 8, 2006

Now, for the Accounting Of the Opera
7,486 performances, 11 leading recluses and 1 Broadway Record

In the prologue of “The Phantom of the Opera”, Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny, buys a music-box monkey that resided in the Phantom’s underground labyrinth 30 years earlier, and asks the toy, “Will you still play when all the rest of us are dead?”
One might ask the same question of the show itself, which will raise the curtain on performance No. 7,486 tomorrow night, surpassing “Cats” to become the longest-running show in Broadway history.

“Phantom” is a record breaker in many respects, having grossed nearly $600 million since opening in 1988, the most ever for a Broadway show. When you add in the original London production, numerous foreign productions and three United States tours, the worldwide box office exceeds a whopping $3.2 billion, surpassing every other stage production and even the world’s highest –grossing film “Titanic” ($1.8 billion).

What does it take to keep a show humming along on Broadway (and to keep theatergoers humming its tunes) for so long? It may not be possible to quantify a hit. “ It has a little bit of everything,” Kris Koop, who has been in the show in various roles for five years, said in trying to sum up the appeal. “If you’re not an opera fan,” she added, “we do blow a lot of stuff up, too.”