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With the distance of more than a decade - and a couple hundred new musicals - since my last visit, I found myself with a new appreciation for this beloved show's gothic theatricality

Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

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BWW Reviews: The Touring Company of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA Raises $10,000 for BC/EFA and The Actors Fund with its Magnificent Cabaret in LA.

Los Angeles musical theatre lovers received a treat on July 20th when the touring company of The Phantom of the Opera performed a magnificent self-produced cabaret titled OSCAR UNMASKED, consisting of performances from Oscar winning songs and scores. The proceeds will go to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA) and The Actors Fund.

All of the performances were enjoyable, including emcee Edward Staudenmayer's (Monsieur Andre) groanworthy jokes, such as one about an addicted cartoon character's checking into the Betty Boop Center. The evening included top-notch singing and dancing, humor, light-heartedness, and one poignant number, when Christina Dooling (ballet corps) performed an original dance piece to music director Jamie Johns' adaptation of the SCHINDLER'S LIST theme. The program was so polished that it is hard to believe that the performers worked around their eight-performance PHANTOM schedule, putting the whole show together for the first time that morning.

Some of the highlights of the evening included Jacquelynne Fontaine (Carlotta Giudicelli) singing OVER THE RAINBOW; Katie McCreary (understudy to Ms. Fontaine) singing THE MORNING AFTER, from 1972's THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE; Quinto Ott (Don Attilio) and cabaret director Edward Juvier (the jeweler and Passarino) singing IF I DIDN'T HAVE YOU from MONSTERS, INC., complete with pantomime; Ted Keener's (slave master) CHIM CHIM CHER-EE and his and Tara Sweeney's (swing and dance captain) THE CONTINENTAL, from THE GAY DIVORCEE; Micki Weiner's FLASHDANCE; and Katie Travis' (Christine) QUE SERA SERA. There were other wonderful performances as well, but naming them all would take longer than listing the Bible's begats.

Three Carlottas (l-r) Rebecca Robbins (U/S),
Jacquelynne Fontaine, and Katie McCreary (U/S)

In addition to enjoying the entertainment, audience members had the opportunity to bid on PHANTOM-related items in a live auction presided over by Mark Emerson, who revealed that his only previous experience in such a role has been scripted; he plays the auctioneer who seeks to frighten away the ghost of the past with "a little illumination." The three auction items, all of which went for over $500, and one which sold for $1000, consisted of a backstage tour by Phantom Chris Mann, the chance to watch the stage manager at work during a performance, and design and production of a gown by the multi-talented Quinto Ott. The company also sold PHANTOM memorabilia and masks designed and decorated by cast members, with all proceeds going to BC/EFA and The Actors Fund. Emcee Staudenmayer announced at the end of the evening that the benefit raised approximately $10,000.

Operatic bass and dress designer Quinto Ott shows his creations
while auctioneer Mark Emerson tries to get bidders to increase the price
on a custom gown to be created by Mr. Ott.

I found surprising that so many performers in a show known for its operatic music can also sing in other genres. Katie McCreary, who understudies Carlotta, studied only opera performance through graduate school, and not popular music. Ms. McCreary, who is African American, said that she worked as a singing waiter one summer, when her supervisor told her, "You look like a black girl who can belt so you'd better learn how to belt." Rather than quitting on the spot, she learned how to belt popular songs, and discovered that her opera background helped her, because of its emphasis on breath control. Ms. McCreary said that she now embraces all forms of singing, as long it tells a story. One of the four producers of the cabaret, she said she plans to help organize other benefit cabarets while she tours in PHANTOM.

According to www.Broadway, the organization funds "the social service programs of The Actors Fund and award[s] grants to AIDS and family service organizations in all 50 states." Dan Kitowski, director of health services for The Actors Fund, said that his organization provides direct human services in time of need, such as counseling and emergency financial assistance. BC/EFA supports The Actors Fund's HIV/AIDS Initiative, the Phyllis Newman Women's Health Initiative (which addresses health needs and concerns specific to women), and others. In fiscal year 2013, BC/EFA provided $4.3-million to The Actors Fund, an additional $5,881,246 in national grants, and $337,460 in international grants.

Assistant Carpenter Wade Jolly was pressed into service
for the evening as the "merchandise man"

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA will end its Los Angeles run after the August 2nd performance, and will play at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa from August 5th through 16th, after which it will appear in San Francisco from August 19th through October 4th. (Ticket buyers should be aware that Chris Mann will be on vacation from September 28th through October 4th). The tour will return to Southern California one final time, for a run from October 7th through the 18th at the San Diego Civic Theatre.

The company plans another cabaret to benefit BC/EFA for September 21, 2015, at Marines Memorial Theatre in San Francisco.

The company acknowledges the audience at the end of the show.

Photo Credits: Jay Jarvis, Audrey Liebross

Article reprinted with permission from

What You Say

206 reviews, average rating: (4.4 Stars)

Mike: “The Best Show On Earth”

This is the best broadway you will ever see in your life...was into the sho... more

Nicole: “Absolutely Wonderful!”

I am 35, visited NY for the first time and being a fan of the 1943 version ... more

Danielle: “INSANE”

The Phantom of the Opera was probably one of the most AMAZING shows I've ev... more

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