One of the most iconic musicals of all time is back in San Diego. “The Phantom of the Opera” first opened in 1986 and has since become the longest-running musical in Broadway history. Now on its fourth tour, the musical is in San Diego through Sept. 2. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the elaborate and beautiful costumes and the stunning chandelier, all while learning more about the Phantom himself, Quentin Oliver Lee – a Southern California native from the Inland Empire!
“The Phantom of the Opera” first opened in 1986 and has since become the longest-running musical in Broadway history. At this moment, there are seven productions around the world, including London, Prague, New York City and of course, this tour, the fourth American tour. The musical has won more than 70 major theatre awards, including the Tony Award for Best Musical.
Quentin Oliver Lee, who plays the Phantom in the iconic musical, said he first auditioned for the musical years ago – and didn’t make it. It was only after he got “Prince of Broadway” and sang “Music of the Night” on a Broadway stage that he returned to audition for the show, and then got cast as the lead on the fourth American tour.
Many people think “The Phantom of the Opera” is an opera, Lee told NBC 7 San Diego, but it’s actually not a true opera – but since starring in the musical, he’s began to understand the parallels. “As I listen to it more and more, I begin to understand why it sort of is (an opera) – it has the same romanticism,” Lee said. “It’s beautiful music and the story is fantastic, so I love it.”
One of Lee’s favorite moments in the show comes right at the very beginning: the big chandelier reveal. But Lee has a lot of favorite moments, including the iconic title song. “The title song, when I bring Christine down to the layer is incredibly fun,” Lee said. “There are a lot of really fun moments.”
This is one of the elaborate costumes the Phantom gets to wear: a detailed cape.
This is a piece Christine wears for the opening number - and the outfit she wears under her robe as she sings the title song, "The Phantom of the Opera."
This is a detailed look at Christine's outfit from the second act during a pivotal moment, when she sings "The Point of No Return" with the Phantom.
Another detailed look at Christine's outfit from the second act, when she sings "The Point of No Return" with the Phantom.
A full look at Christine's outfit from "The Point of No Return" with the Phantom.
Take a behind-the-scenes, exclusive look at the famous chandelier. Stage manager Mitch Hodges tells NBC 7 that the chandelier is 2,000 pounds and has over 30,000 beads on it. Plus, it has 200 gold plates over the chandelier. The chandelier was designed by Howard Eaton in London; he also designed the gold rings for the London Olympics ceremony.
Lee, an Inland Empire native, said he’s so moved to be back in Southern California for the first time in a while, singing a dream role. “As I sang during the sound check, I was blown away and very touched at being back in California doing something that I love to do in such an amazing place, at home,” he said. “It is both, at once, really inspiring that it happened - dreams come true - and very humbling.”
Four departments manage the incredible chandelier, which is transported whole in a cage with wheels. The scenery department checks the safety of the chandelier and makes sure everything is connected in the right place and that the safety measures and backups are in place. The props department shines the chandelier and does repairs. The electrics department lights the chandelier and creates the fog. The pyrotechnics department takes care of all the special effects, like fireworks.
“The Phantom of the Opera” is a show on many people’s bucket lists, Lee said, and the cast and crew know that – and they work behind-the-scenes every day to make sure every show is special. “I have heard a lot of times that this is on people's bucket list. I see why. It's so fun,” Lee said. “With the explosions and the music and the beauty of the costumes and the stage, it really is an experience.”