Will Phantom ever be Revived?

The original 1957 Broadway production of West Side Story was a big hit.  It ran 732 performances.

Music Manwhich bested it for the Tony Award, ran 1,375 performances.

The original My Fair Lady ran what seems like a whopping 2,717 performances.

Let’s flash forward four or five decades and take a look at our biggest hits:

Mamma Mia is already up to over 5,000 performances.  The Lion King has run around the circle of life over 6,800 times.  And The Phantom of the Opera is up to over 10,000.  And shows like Wicked,  Jersey Boys, etc. are all expected to hit well over 5K performances in their lifetime as well.

Things have changed on Broadway.  We’re a lot better at stretching out the runs of our hit shows (which is one of the reasons we’re faced with the theater crunch we’re in now), and maximizing our ROI.  Big hits in the golden age of Broadway ran a couple thousand performances at most.  Now, that’s a soft hit.

In fact, take a look at the longest running Broadway shows of all time.  The oldest one (A Chorus Line) opened in 1975.  After that (and Oh, Calcutta!), you’ve got to get into the 80s.

So my question is . . . if we’re getting so much better at keeping shows on Broadway for years, even decades longer than we used to, does that mean the shows will be revived less?

West Side Story has seen two revivals.  The Music Man has also seen two revivals.  My Fair Lady will be up to four when Clive Davis opens his production.

Do you think there will ever be four revivals of Mamma Mia?  The Lion King? Phantom?

Or does a long run limit the potential a show has of coming back?  Or are these productions so definitive that it wouldn’t even be worth bringing back anyway (especially the ones that depend so heavily on a physical spectacle)?  Obviously Les Miz is back, but is that only because of the movie?  Will that be what it takes?

This is an entirely new conundrum for the modern Broadway producer.

Because I can honestly say I don’t think I’ll ever see a revival of Wicked in my lifetime.

But I can also honestly say that I’m not sure I’ll ever see it close.


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  • Jared says:

    I agree with you, I don’t think we will see too many revivals of these long-running hit shows. First of all, the shows have to close first, and I don’t see that happen in the near future (I’ve accepted that “Phantom” will just never close, and honestly the corner of 44th & 8th will look bizarre without that marquee there).

    But I also think these closely timed revival don’t really work. You have to have a major reason to revisit a show, especially if the show was a hit before. They tried to revive “Les Miz” once already and that only lasted a year or two; I personally think this current revival will follow a similar course.

    I work as a concierge; people ask me for show recommendations all the time. And for the vast majority of them, they’re interested in seeing something new. We have a book with photos of all the Broadway shows, and I’ll see people flip through it and fondly recall seeing “Mamma Mia” or “Wicked,” but they don’t ask to see it again. They want something else, and we need to make sure that as an industry we have something to give them.

  • God, I hope not. There are already too many revivals running at any given time. I understand that tried and true shows are a safer investment than new works, but you can only stretch a show so far before it wears out its welcome.

    Apart from that, these super-duper-hyper-mega-running shows are bad for repeat tourism. So three years after a visit, someone in Dallas is thinking of journeying back to NYC and looks up what shows are playing. If it’s the same shows that were there on the first trip, the next vacation will be to somewhere else, preferably a place where hotel, food, and other prices aren’t grossly overinflated. “Phantom” in particular doesn’t bear re-viewing very well, not least because it isn’t very good in the fist place. The first time was about twice too many times for me.

    Producers should be investing more in the creation of new work; it’s better for everyone in the long run. Doing the same shit year after year, whether it’s in the form of a revival or a humongously long run, is destructive for the art form, discouraging for authors (especially new authors), and boring for audiences.

    In the Golden Age, there were dozens of newly minted plays and musicals in a given season. We want something different, from more and different voices. Give us something engaging, something unusual, something NEW!

    • That’s *first place, not *fist place.

    • Polo says:

      “Producers should be investing more in the creation of new work; it’s better for everyone in the long run.”

      In case you didn’t read Ken’s blog last week, it is statistically suicide to stage a new work. It’s all about the bucks, and new works don’t recoup. No new works, only adaptions and revivals.

  • Chris says:

    Les Miserables ran 6680 performances and it’s on its second revival.

  • Bob says:

    They haven’t revived CATS (God help us) yet…

  • Sarah says:

    I think it’ll depend on the show and the type of revival. CATS was long running and has yet to be revived, but Rent got it’s Off-Broadway revival at New World Stages within 2 years from closing (and if it waited a few more years, maybe it would’ve been back on Broadway). For these shows though, it’ll probably take a very long time for a revival to take place if one does happen.

  • Trent says:

    Gosh, I don’t know – It seems to me these long running shows (Phantom, Wicked, Lion King) have sort of become Broadway’s version of the Matterhorn at Disneyland – you try the new rides but you always save time to re-ride your old favorite.

  • hendri says:

    non replica regional productions would be an interesting mix to build the brand.

  • temperature High School” version (St. Vincent St. Marys) and also the Nike Zoom LeBron IV “Birthday Song” version (Birthday Bundle),

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