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THIS IS AMERICA - 'Phantom of the Opera' Rewrites Broadway History After 18 Years

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(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Faith Lapidus. Today we hear music from "The Phantom of the Opera." That show sets a record this week.

Phantom of the Opera
Phantom of the Opera

(MUSIC)

A mysterious man who covers his deformed face with a mask. A beautiful young singer who falls under the man's control. Her lover, who does not believe that this phantom exists.

The story has made "The Phantom of the Opera" the longest-running show ever performed on Broadway.

Its success is told in numbers: as of Monday night, seven thousand four hundred eighty-six performances in New York City alone. There have been tens of thousands of performances around the world. 'Phantom' has brought in more than three thousand million dollars in ticket sales.

VOICE TWO:

Until now, the longest-running show on Broadway was "Cats." Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber who wrote the music for "Phantom," was also responsible for "Cats." That show closed in New Year in two thousand.

Andrew Lloyd Weber
Andrew Lloyd Weber

"The Phantom of the Opera" was first seen at Her Majesty's Theatre in London in nineteen eighty-six. The show opened in New York on January twenty-sixth, nineteen eighty-eight. It has won many top awards in Britain and the United States.

VOICE ONE:

"The Phantom of the Opera" is based on a book by Gaston Leroux. The Phantom lives in a strange world under the Paris Opera House.

He loves a young woman named Christine. She wants to be a great singer. The Phantom wants Christine to sing his music. But she falls in love with a wealthy and good-looking man named Raoul.

Christine and the Phantom
Christine and the Phantom

Listen as Christine and Raoul -- Sarah Brightman and Steve Barton -- sing "Think of Me."

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

Christine loves Raoul. But she wants to be an opera singer. The Phantom gives her singing lessons. She believes he is her "Angel of Music." Michael Crawford is our Phantom.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

The Phantom takes Christine to his place under the opera house. He believes that only Christine can sing his music. He calls it "the music of the night."

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

In the Phantom's strange home, Christine faints. She wakes up hours later. She decides to pull away the mask that always covers most of the Phantom's face. She is horrified at what she sees.

Christine and the Phantom return to the surface. But he tells her, now that she has seen his face, she will never be free.

The Phantom demands that the producers of a new opera make Christine the lead singer. They refuse. The Phantom becomes angry. He does something to the voice of the lead singer to make her sound terrible. And he kills an opera worker and throws the body onto the stage.

VOICE ONE:

Christine and Raoul flee. Raoul tries to tell her there is no Phantom of the Opera. But she says she has seen the man. Raoul promises to protect her. They sing a love song. The song is called "All I Ask of You."

(MUSIC)

VOICE TWO:

The Phantom hears their song. In great anger, he makes a huge chandelier fall onto the stage.

Act Two opens months later at a masquerade party. The guests all wear masks to hide their identity.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Raoul wants to announce that he and Christine are planning to marry. But she fears that the Phantom would not like it.

The Phantom appears at the party, uninvited. He orders the opera managers to perform an opera he has written. At first they refuse.

But then, Raoul and the opera managers decide to use the Phantom's musical drama to trap him. They are sure the Phantom will appear if Christine has a lead part.

VOICE TWO:

Christine does not want to sing in the Phantom's opera. But she hears his voice calling to her.

Christine goes to the burial place of her father. She sings to him. The song is called "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again."

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

The Phantom is at the burial ground. He wants Christine to join him. But Raoul comes and takes her away.

She sings in the Phantom's opera. On opening night, guards and policemen surround the theater. They hope to catch the Phantom.

With Christine singing, the Phantom appears on stage as expected. But things do not happen as Raoul and the managers had planned. The Phantom escapes with Christine. She again looks at his face. This time, instead of fear, she reacts with sympathy.

VOICE TWO:

Raoul follows them. The Phantom gives Christine a terrible choice. She can stay with him forever -- or he will kill Raoul. The Phantom says they have reached the point of no return.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

At this point, Christine tells the Phantom that forcing her to make a choice has changed her feelings again. Now, instead of feeling sorry for him, she hates him. This causes the Phantom of the Opera to make a decision of his own.

(MUSIC)

VOICE ONE:

Our program was written by Jerilyn Watson and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm Steve Ember.

VOICE TWO:

And I'm Faith Lapidus. Internet users can read and listen to our programs at www.unsv.com. Join us again next week for THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English.

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