Talkin' BroadwayPast Columns

An Open Letter to Andrew Lloyd Webber

The January 11th issue of Variety will be filled with photos and ads for films and actors looking forward to Academy Award nominations. There will be one ad that will be different. Because of the success of its last ad in Variety, the Michael Crawford Movie Campaign took out another ad, this time an open letter to Andrew Lloyd Webber. Because Talkin' Broadway supports this endeavor, I've asked permission from the campaign to reprint their ad. Here's the text:

Dear Lord Lloyd-Webber,

Few would argue that The Phantom of the Opera is the crown jewel of your brilliant career. After an $80 million run of over 1300 performances, Michael Crawford left the stage production in 1990 to star as the Phantom in the movie version. "Michaelmania," as the LA Times termed it, crowded the stage doors and resulted in major media coverage. Two seats to that final performance auctioned for $27,000. Hollywood was ready for the Phantom film starring the original Phantom, and audiences were delighted because we knew that Andrew Lloyd Webber was in charge. We could trust you to bring Crawford's cherished interpretation of the Phantom to film.

Although Hollywood might try to force a "big star" into the title role, we knew you would defend the integrity of Phantom. You would convince them that this movie's success hinges on performances, not names on the marquee. You would inform them that your show, despite having a then relatively "unknown" Michael Crawford in the title role, Phantom sold $18 million in advanced sales to New York audiences. Pointing to rave reviews, a Tony and myriad other awards, sold-out theatres, international concert tours, and the Original Cast Recording, you would demonstrate that Crawford's name is synonymous with the Phantom--bonded like no actor with any role since Yul Brynner in The King and I.

Delays led to 1996 when it appeared the situation had changed. Reports told of you offering the Phantom role to other actors. Phantom fans worldwide were stunned. We had felt certain that, above all others, you knew that this film required a vocal performance that would mesmerize and seduce the audience. What happened to the visionary who trusted the genius of his composition and was rewarded with the soul of the Phantom, brought to life by the brilliant casting of Michael Crawford?

We want the same things you want: a commercial and artistic success that will live in the hearts of audiences for generations to come. Show the courage of your original conviction. Phantom is poised potentially to make or break the musical film genre. Will you take it to new heights or bury it? Please join with us and together we can convince Hollywood to make a motion picture that the world will cherish. Honor our trust in you by casting Michael Crawford in the The Phantom of the Opera movie.

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