Wanted, one ghost, experience and good character required. Ability to sing tenor would be considered an advantage.

On October 31, the curtain came down on The Phantom of the Opera for the last time at the Pantages theatre, where it has played for more than 10 years.

I saw the show there 8 times, and was at the last performance. If you'd like to read my thoughts about that particular night, go here. The Toronto production is very special to me for many reasons, and I thought that some kind of tribute would be appropriate.


The Pantages Theatre


The Pantages Theatre in Toronto was built in 1920, and provided both vaudeville and silent film entertainment. In 1972 it was renovated into a modern movie theatre, and in 1988 was restored to its original state.

It seats over 2200 people and offers an excellent view of the stage from almost any seat in the house. The beautiful lobbies and entrances as well as the gorgeous interior of the theatre add to the atmosphere of the show.


The Men Behind the Mask


There are have been eight men who have played the lead role in Toronto. They are:

- Colm Wilkinson
- Cris Groenendaal
- Peter Karrie
- Jeff Hyslop
- Ciaran Sheehan
- Ethan Freeman
- René Simard
- Paul Stanley

There were two that I never saw (Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Simard), but I'm sure that they, like all the others, put their own spin on the role, interpretated it in their own way, and came up with something unique and interesting. They are all very talented men.


Some Interesting Facts


From the Livent Home Page:

Each performance of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA requires the combined talents of some 200 people, including:

- 41 members in the acting company
- 29 musicians
- 1 conductor
- 4 stage managers
- 35 members of the backstage running crew
- 13 dressers
- 5 wig masters
- 1 makeup artist
- 100 front-of-house Pantages Theatre staff
- There are 190 trap doors built into the stage deck, which house some of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA's spectacular scenic effects. 133 of these traps are for the flickering candles that fill the Phantom's lair.
- A new trap room was built below the stage area to accommodate many of the sets and the automated machinery. The trap room measures 14' deep, 45' wide and 28' long. In addition, a special 3' wide trough was added to the trap room to lower the floor an additional two-and-a-half feet. Various pieces of scenery are raised to the stage level from this area.
- During each performance, 230 costumes, 115 wigs and 150 pairs of shoes are worn on stage.
- 60,000 pounds of counterweights are needed to balance the sets.
- Each performance features 53 mechanized scenic effects.
- Running throughout the Pantages Theatre are 20 miles of steel, electrical, and computer cable.
- 4 computers are required to operate the lights, sound equipment, special effects, and the scenery.
- The control panel of the automation unit alone requires 25,000 feet of wiring.
- The sound system uses 56 different microphones.
- There are 104 sound speakers used in this production.


The Reviews


These are some of the reviews from the opening...to read the full text of the Toronto Star review, go here.

f you're paying good money to be dazzled, to be entertained and to enjoy, you've come to the right place. The audience rewarded the cast with frequent applause and a lengthy standing ovation. A SMASH HIT!
   - Heather Bird, The Ottawa Sun

A GREAT SPECTACLE!
As spectacular and lavish as any grand opera and as colourful as the Cirque du Soleil. Director Harold Prince orchestrates the flow of scenes for this musical megahit with brilliant cinematic precision.
   - Stephen Godfrey, The Globe and Mail

MARVELOUS! A PRODUCTION FOR THE MEMORY BOOKS!
A sumptuously mounted and beautifully performed presentation... fully meets the high standards set by the other productions. The Phantom's journey with Christine down into a candle-lit underground lake, remains one of the most remarkable moments in 20th century theatre.
   - Jamie Portman, Southam News

PLUNGES AUDIENCES INTO A WORLD OF ROMANCE AND LUSH MUSIC!
As pure spectacle, PHANTOM is tough to beat. Breathtaking special effects...technically flawless, vocally smooth and visually satisfying...the onstage magic is virtually indistinguishable from the London and Toronto productions.
WILL BE A HIT WHEREVER IT PLAYS!
   - Barbara Crook, The Ottawa Citizen

LAVISH! A VERITABLE FEAST FOR THE EYES!
Spectacular sets, lavishly embellished costumes and magical special effects. Many gasps of surprise from the packed audience...a standing ovation.
   - Kathryn Young, Canadian Press

BRILLIANT! EXTRAORDINARY!
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER has come up with a spectacle that makes use of drama, humour and passion...that is brilliant and convincing.
   - Marc Andre Joanisse, Le Droit

LUSH, SUMPTUOUS, A TOTAL FANTASY...I LOVED IT!
   - Alvina Ruprecht, CBC Radio (Ottawa)


In Conclusion


I hope somebody comes up with a better tribute than this. :-) This is just to say that I've enjoyed my visits to the Pantages, and am saddened to see the show leaving. Best of luck to all involved in the future!

Now I'm going to have to start going to the Majestic more often... ;-)


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