Phantom still filling night with music

The iconic chandelier is ready to be hoisted to the Hippodrome roof, high above the audience as the final touches are added to the huge and breathtaking sets

THE world's most popular musical has arrived in Birmingham for an eight week run – its final venue on the 25th anniversary tour.

The show ended its run on Saturday and then the first of a staggering 22 45ft artic trailers – making it the biggest show on tour at the moment – arrived at the Hippodrome the following day and after three days of 24 hour working, the curtain opened on Wednesday, March 13.

Playing the Phantom is Earl Carpenter, last seen at the Hippodrome in The Three Phantoms with Matthew Cammelle and John Owen-Jones and before that as Javart in the excellent 25th anniversary tour of Les Miserables.

Carpenter, incidentally, replaced John Owen-Jones who left the tour in September, and this is his third spell in the role after starring twice in the West End production at Her Majesty's Theatre.

His Christine will be Katie Hall who was seen in both I'd do anything and Your Country Needs You on BBC TV.

Other West End star s in the show include Simon Bailey as Raoul and Angela M Caesar as Carlotta..

The show has racked up an impressive set of statistics since Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical based on the Gaston Leroux's 1909 novel first appeared on 9 October 1986 starring Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman.

It became the longest running show in Broiadway history on January 2006 when it celebrated its 7,486th performance overtaking Cats. That became 10,400 on its 25th anniversary on 26 January this year.

It reached its 10,000th performance in the West End on October 2010.

The show has collected more than 60 major theatre awards including seven Tonys , three Oliviers and the Most Popular Musical Audience Award, voted on by the public.

It has grossed £3.2 billion worldwide, more in revenues than any other stage play or film in history and has been seen in 145 cities in 27 countries playing to 130 million people.

This stunning new production from Cameron Mackintosh, directed by Laurence Connor, has been designed by theatre and opera legend Paul Brown which means the sets are big and spectacular . . . and did I mention big?

For example the curved wall set, an impressive 7.5 metres high is made up of two trucks, wireless controlled motorised moving sets, which weigh just over 10 tonnes – which means even the new, solid Hippodrome stage has had to be strengthened underneath.

The trucks each contain four friction drive motors which are connected to the Automation desk by Bluetooth

Up and away - on two hoists with its 632 individual strings of beads and remotely controlled battery powered lighting goes the huge chandelier

The cast have 25 tonnes of lights and scenery dangling above their heads on the grid up in the flies - and the audience don't escape the thrills of danger either with more than half a tonne of chandelier hanging over the centre stalls – the two wires holding it up did seem fairly strong mind you.

Just to give some idea of the scale of the show there is a cast of 37, a technical and creative team of 29 and an orchestra of 14 – smaller than the 29 piece Broadway and West End orchestrations but still larger than most musicals use on tour.

Other facts include:


The two scenic theatre boxes at the either side of the stage weigh just over a tonne each.

There are 50 Automation cues for the scenery.

There are 43 separate Flying cues throughout each performance.

There are 44 candles in the Masquerade Ball scene.

The chandelier is suspended from the ceiling on two Automation controlled chain hoists and weighs just over 0.5 of a tonne.

There are 632 individual strings of beads on the chandelier.

There is approximately 25 tonnes of lights and scenery suspended from the grid over the heads of the acting company.


There are more than three kilometres of multi-coloured cable to power the lighting.

There are 390 individual Lighting cues at each performance.

Nearly 250 kgs of CO2 a week is used to make the low smoke effect.

More than 400 pyrotechnics of different shapes and sizes are used each week.


There are ten loads of washing per show with the wardrobe department using over 10 kg of washing powder and 15 litres of fabric conditioner in each city.

10 cans of spray starch are used per city. 

It takes four hours of ironing per show to get the costumes ready.

Each ballet dancer uses between two and six pairs of pointe shoes per city  

Approx 360 pairs of pointe shoes will be used for the tour.

It takes two  trucks alone to move the costumes and wardrobe supplies.

There are over 2,500 costume items used (this includes full costumes, shirts, gloves etc.) on each show. In total 5,000 items are toured to include spares and understudy outfits. 

110 pairs of shoes are worn every show.

There are 11 wardrobe staff members on the show, including dressers.

Christine's masquerade dress has over 4000 Swarovski crystals on it, which are all applied by hand.

There are more than 120 pieces of jewellery.

There are 36 hand made venetian mask for the masquerade scene.

There are 45 hand made hats

There are more than 100 different types of buttons.

Roger Clarke

The show runs at Birmingham Hippodrome from Tonight, 13 March to Saturday 4 May and two extra matinees have been added to cope with demand on Tuesday 2 April and Tuesday 23 April, both at 2pm.

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