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Phantom swoops through Shanghai

By Zhang Kun (China Daily)

10:35, July 05, 2013

The Phantom of the Opera is on its Asian tour. Shanghai will be its final stop.(Photo/ China Daily)

The Phantom of the Opera will haunt the city of Shanghai once again this winter - and theater lovers could not be more excited. It's five months before the premiere, but almost half the tickets are already sold.

The groundbreaking musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber will be performed 60 times at the Shanghai Culture Square from December to February.

Shanghai Culture Square has launched an innovative multitiered pricing system for ticket sales, with three rounds having taken place since May 25. "Tickets less than 480 yuan sell out within hours every time," says Fei Yuanhong, director of programming at Shanghai Culture Square.

Directors of the theater suggest people book tickets early to secure their first choice of seats and favorable prices.

Ten years ago, The Phantom of the Opera was performed 100 times in Shanghai Grand Theater. "I remember the last round of 10 shows, so many people wanted to see it that the scalpers raised the ticket price several times higher," says Fei, who worked at Shanghai Grand Theater at the time.

Fei's job has allowed him to see the musical more than 50 times - probably more than anyone else in China. He says the new production has "richer colors, enhanced mysterious ambience and optimized stage designs".

"I was constantly asked, 'when will the Phantom come back to Shanghai'. Two years after Shanghai Culture Square opened to public, we can present the authentic Phantom of the Opera here," he says.

Phantom is the longest running show on Broadway, and was the first production to celebrate its 10,000th performance on Broadway in February 2012. The musical has won numerous theater awards since its premiere in London's West End in 1986 and New York's Broadway in 1988.

"It's the crown of the musical industry," Fei says. It is a large, high-cost production, and the producer, Really Useful Theater Company by Cameron Mackintosh, has been discreet with tour plans and strict with quality control. It has taken 10 years for the Phantom to return to the Asia-Pacific.

The Asian tour started in Manila, the Philippines, last year, then went to Seoul, South Korea, where it is currently in the middle of a three-month run. It will travel to Bangkok, Thailand later this year.

The production company researched the musical market and theater facilities in several cities on the Chinese mainland and decided to take the show only to Shanghai.

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