After more than six years, Las Vegas’ version of The Phantom of the Opera winds down
By Susan Stapleton
Photography by Christopher DeVargas
Every day that passes between now and Sept. 2 is one day closer to the end of a Las Vegas era. And when Phantom—The Las Vegas Spectacular closes after the 7 p.m. show on that day, it will mean that Phantom lead Anthony Crivello has turned in more than 2,000 performances since the show launched more than six years ago at The Venetian.
The show, based on the classic novel by Gaston Leroux, has been the darling of the Las Vegas entertainment scene since it launched in 2006. The 95-minute musical tells the tale of the Phantom, who lurks beneath the stage of the opera house, hidden behind a mask to cloak his deformity. It’s a love story, with the Phantom obsessed with the young soprano, Christine, whom he positions as the lead in the opera.
Based on the original show on Broadway, this shortened version sans an intermission features all the music from the Andrew Lloyd Webber original. The $40 million theater was created for this version, with a stage that replicates the Paris Opera Garnier.
“You won’t see Phantom done this way again,” Crivello says. One of the most famous stars of the Vegas version might be the 2,000-pound chandelier dubbed Maria, a $5 million detail that crashes into four parts, using 32 winches to restore it to its original glory. “You can’t bring that to Broadway or London.”
And it’s the only production of Phantom to have a permanent opera as part of the venue, filled with 80 mannequins waiting for the show to start. It’s also one of the only Phantom productions to employ stuntmen for feats such as the stagehand hanging from the rafters. “Here, you see the guy fighting for his life,” Crivello says.
The show paved the way for venues such as The Smith Center, Vegas’ new downtown performing arts center that features Broadway productions such as Wicked, Crivello says. “This production inside a casino broke the mold. We generated a profile of what can come in. People have thanked us for bringing in the type of show like this,” he says.
For Crivello, it means a change of venue. Although he had moved to Vegas (and had two children born here, one age 6 and the other 3), he plans to head back to New York City to find a new show. Despite a certain sadness behind the closing of the musical, the Broadway star is upbeat about the future. Crivello, who has had roles in three of director Hal Prince’s productions, says, “My heart and prayer is that the fourth one is coming.”
He leaves the production, where he spent more than 3,000 hours in the makeup chair being transformed into the Phantom, with mixed feelings. “To be completely honest about it, I wish I could take a month’s break and come back to it. With this kind of role, there’s always room for explorations.”