by Bruce Chadwick
Phantom of the Opera Majestic Theater 247 W. 44th Street New York, N.Y.The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running play in American history, celebrates its 25th anniversary in New York Saturday night. There will once again be “oohs” and “aahs” when the huge chandelier falls on stage, scary moments when the Phantom threatens people and, start to finish, some of the most luscious music ever written for the stage.Theatergoers will see the enchanting musical, as good as ever after all these years, and shudder as the ogrish Phantom takes the beautiful actress Christine across the foreboding lake beneath the Paris Opera House to his lair. They will revel in French history, with all of its odd turns, that set the stage for the 1911 novel Le Fantome de L’Opera, by Gaston Leroux, and the hit 1925 silent movie version of it, starring the hideously made up Lon Chaney. While it was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s wonderful music, and the character of the Phantom, that made the musical so successful, it was the history that always gave it strength, whether in 1925 movie theaters or in the 148 cities in 28 countries where the musical has been staged.