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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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.