VIDEO: The Phantom set being removed from Her Majesty’s after 36 years

The Phantom Of the Opera has today released a video of Maria Bjornson's exquisite set leaving Her Majesty's Theatre, London thirty-six years after it was first installed.

The Phantom Of The Opera set design
Phantom’s iconic proscenium facade leaves Her Majesty’s Theatre, London

The Phantom Of the Opera has today released a video of Maria Bjornson’s exquisite set leaving Her Majesty’s Theatre, London thirty-six years after it was first installed.

The Phantom Of The Opera London has started on its journey to re-opening in June 2021 at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Few can remember having ever seen anything but The Phantom Of The Opera in this venue and it is strangely disturbing to see the design which graced the stage of the theatre for such a long time make an exit, hastened by the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Maria’s designs are timeless and even more remarkable because the London production of The Phantom Of The Oper utilised the theatre’s original Victorian stage machinery. Look at productions of the show that occurred after London and you will get a feel for the effect of automation on the speed and fluidity of set changes.  Still for a theatre set to survive for that long is quite a feat. Watching this video and looking at some of the stills of the load-out and you get a good close look at some of the detail in the chandelier and mouldings that made up that highly recognisable proscenium arch.

Fan concern at the site of the chandelier being removed a few months ago caused a minor ruckus and both Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber still seem to be playing word games with audiences. Each statement seeming to contradict the other until recently it was announced that the touring set from Leicester would be used but without much further detail var Cameron’s mention of a “horse that Maria dreamt of” –  so exactly what we will get is anyone’s guess.

It’s been reported that the show’s production staff and its cast all had their contracts terminated depriving then Phantom Josh Piterman, the cast and crew of their closing night. We look forward to seeing whether Philip Griffiths will return with Phantom. Philip has been with Phantom for over 30 years, holding a Guinness World Record for the longest performance run in the same musical.

When The Phantom Of The Opera re-opens in early June 2021, the West End will be a very different place. An announcement that Killian Donnelly will star as The Phantom has been made and further casting will be announced in due course.

Rumours are still circulating about the fate of Phantom’s large and incredibly lush orchestra. It has been suggested that the orchestra size will be halved in the new production, a loss if true.

Few of us though will ever forget how Maria Bjornson took Hal Prince’s trademark black box staging and took it to a whole new level with what was to become (for a time) the world’s highest-grossing musical.

Enjoy this video and the still photos taken from it! Be in awe of the design genius that was Maria Bjornson!

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