More than 25 years after it opened on Broadway, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” will play in Fresno. That giant-chandelier-sized sigh you might be hearing from theater fans across the central San Joaquin Valley sounds a lot like: Finally.
The powerhouse musical, which has played in New York continuously since its 1988 opening, will run Oct. 4-16, 2016 at the Saroyan Theatre as part of the 2015-16 Fresno Lexus Broadway in Fresno season. It will be part of a new North American tour that producers describe as “bigger and better than ever before.” The production travels with a cast and orchestra of 52, making it one of the biggest productions on tour today.
“Phantom,” with its massive sets and technical effects, including the famed chandelier, has been the big Broadway blockbuster that hadn’t yet made it to Fresno. But the recent success at the Saroyan of two runs of “Wicked” and last year’s run of “Jersey Boys” helped set the stage for this granddaddy of spectacle.
Add to that the upcoming July run of “The Book of Mormon,” and the Broadway in Fresno series is boasting a pretty good pedigree these days. Fresno will most likely never attract first-run national tours as larger cities do of such recent shows, say, as “Kinky Boots” or “Matilda,” but hosting “Phantom” helps up the local theater ante.
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Investments made by the Saroyan in terms of technology and infrastructure so that “Wicked,” complete with giant dragon, could come here seem to have paid off.
“We are pleased that Broadway in Fresno can announce another blockbuster premiere at the Saroyan,” said Steve Boulay, chief operating officer at MagicSpace Entertainment. “This is part of a trend built on strong ticket sales for ‘Wicked’ and ‘Jersey Boys.’ It wouldn’t be possible without structural upgrades recently made to the Saroyan.”
“Phantom” will be joined by four other subscription shows:
• “42nd Street,” Dec. 1-2, 2015.
• “The Producers,” Feb. 9-10, 2016.
• “Ragtime,” March 15-16, 2016.
• “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” April 12-13, 2016.