The Phantom of the Opera

The Phantom of the Opera poster, London, 1986

Her Majesty’s Theatre, London

Director: Harold Prince
Producer: Cameron Mackintosh
Composer & Book: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Charles Hart
Book & Additional Lyrics: Richard Stilgoe
Production Design: Maria Björnson
Musical Staging & Choreography: Gillian Lynne
Lighting Design: Andrew Bridge
Sound Design: Mick Potter
Original Sound Design: Martin Levan
Co-Orchestrator: David Cullen
Musical Supervision & Direction: David Caddick

Previews began September 27, 1986. The show officially opened on October 9, 1986.
The production, still playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre, celebrated its 10,000th performance at the matinée on 23 October 2010.

Lighting equipment – Phantom London

(as of December 2016, from the Phantom Twitter LX Department takeover)

Control: Strand 520i, running two universes. There are 203 numbered cues (from 2 to 205) but there are many ‘point’ cues in between them. 
Dimmers: 290 dimmers, in (vintage!) Strand STM Racks The Strand dimmers were replaced with ETC Sensor racks in 2018
Lanterns: The stock ranges from (relatively) new ETC Source 4, through to Strand Patt.23 and Patt.223 which are visible on the circle front bar. There are also Prelude Fresnels. 
There are 6 follow spots on the show – two front of house (in the traditional position) are Robert Juliat Aramis spots, and are re-lamped every 300 hours (the rated life of the lamps is 500 hours, but it would be a problem if a lamp failed during a show). There are also 4 beam lights used to subtly highlight the performers, two next to the boxes in the upper circle, and two on stage. They provide a wonderful glow. 
Smoke: The low fog machines are cooled by a twice-weekly delivery of CO2.
Intelligent Lights: There are no intelligent fixtures or moving lights in the rig (other than the chandelier and some candles!). The only DMX-controlled fixtures are strobes, smoke machines and colour scrollers. The organ, chandelier and candles are rechargeable practicals, and are charged after each show. 
Flames: The flames in the stage are butane-fuelled pots from Event FX. 
Pyro: Miniature detonators are used for the skull stick and the exploding candle, to ignite the flames. Le Maitre Pyroflash pots are used for the chandelier plug (silverstar) and for the star trap (theatrical flash). 
The electrical props and effects were built by Howard Eaton (now Howard Eaton Lighting Ltd). As Phantom shows have sprung up around the world, advances in technology have filtered into all of the productions. LED flash effects in the chandelier were introduced for the Las Vegas shows, and are now incorporated into all of the venues. Before these, old-style camera flash bulbs were used, which had to be replaced after each show. 
Staff: There are 10 LX staff on each show; 2 spots in the box, 2 spots in the auditorium, 2 spots upstage of the pros arch, 2 on-stage LX, 1 LX dayman and 1 board operator. The staff are all ‘swings’ and can swap around to do whatever task is required on each show. 
Automation: In New York, the control computer for the chandelier is vintage 1988, and still runs on MS DOS 3.1 (before Windows!)

Sound Equipment – Phantom London – 1986 installation

(from Lighting & Sound International, Issue 15)
“North London-based Theatre Projects have been making the news as far as major events are concerned. Their largest installation to date was for the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ at Her Majesty’s Theatre where nearly £250,000 worth of sound equipment took Derrick Zieba and his team of engineers two months to install. The project involved 108 separate loudspeakers, two 8-track tape machines, 17 radio mics, and a 54-channel computer controlled mixer. Sound design was by Martin Levan….”
Levan’s design used open drivers – Dual Concentric Drivers, out of their usual enclosures. 

The show was closed for 3 days in May 2008 to allow for an upgraded system to be installed.  £400,000 was spent on the upgrade which included more than six miles of cable and 120 speakers throughout the auditorium.
See The Guardian article. Meyer UPQ-1P speakers (launched in 2008) were heavily used in the new system design, by Mick Potter. 

Related Equipment:

Source Four (1992 - present)
Patt.23 (1953 - 1983)
520 / 520i (1997)
Pyroflash (1977)
Dual Concentric Drivers


LSI: Phantom Flickers (November 1986)
[265kb PDF]
From Lighting & Sound International

LSI: Phantom of the Opera at 21 (October 2007)
[2.63Mb PDF]
From Lighting & Sound International

LSI Classic Gear - Tannoy Dual Concentric Drivers (January 2015)
[7.83Mb PDF]
From Lighting & Sound International

The Majestic Theater, Broadway, New York

Previews began January 9, 1988. The show opened on January 26.
The production continues to play at the Majestic, where it marked its 24th anniversary in January 2012, and on February 11 became the first Broadway musical in history to surpass 10,000 performances.

How the production came to the stage (featuring Richard Stilgoe, Cameron Mackintosh, Andrew Lloyd Webber)

Phantom of the Opera – US Tour

Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular

The Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada
Opened 24 June 2006, closed 2 September 2012
Running time: 95 minutes
Director: Harold Prince
Choreographer: Gillian Lynne
Scenic design: David Rockwell

Chandelier Automation by Fisher Technical Services / TAIT

The show featured updated technology and effects, including a re-engineered chandelier capable of reassembling in midair during the overture while the entire interior of the venue (not merely the stage) returned to its 1880s halcyon days. 

Playbill: Article about the Las Vegas Venetian production closing

Phantom of the Opera

More videos:  Youtube Channel

Phantom Special Effects / Illusions

Although the exact implementation of the effects at a professional level is expensive, many of the effects from the show can be approximated with readily available equipment. 
The magician Paul Daniels was involved in designing at least one of the illusions for the West End production.