The top actors who have played the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera
It’s the second-longest running musical in London that’s invited millions of theatregoers to Paris Opera House. Continuing its record run at Her Majesty’s Theatre, we’re taking a look back at some of the best actors to have previously played the Phantom in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s The Phantom of the Opera. Once you’ve read all about them, vote for your favourite at the bottom and share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. Will your favourite be on top?
Who is the best Phantom ever in The Phantom of the Opera?
Originating the role of the Phantom at Her Majesty’s Theatre, Michael Crawford’s performance is simply timeless. Winning an Olivier Award for best actor in a musical, Crawford starred opposite Sarah Brightman as Christine Daae for two years, later reprising the role on Broadway. As well as his Phantom credit, Crawford’s appeared in West End productions including The Woman in White and The Wizard of Oz. Listen to Crawford singing “The Music of the Night” at the 1991 Tony Awards, where he won best actor in a musical.
Ramin Karimloo’s history with the musical stretches back to 2003, taking over the role of Raoul for a 12-month engagement. Leaving the company to play Enjolras in Les Miserables, Karimloo made his debut as the titular character in 2006, staying in the role until 2009. His West End career has seen him originate the Phantom in Love Never Dies, winning an Olivier Award for best actor in a musical, as well as starring in the musical’s 25th anniversary production, available to stream. Listen to Karimloo and Sierra Boggess sing together at the 2012 Classical Brit Awards, to promote the show’s milestone.
Taking over the role in 2001, did you know that John Owen-Jones has played the Phantom for more performances than anyone in British history? After a continuous run of nearly 1,400 performances in the 2000s, he later reprised the role for a four month engagement in 2015. Further West End credits include Les Miserables as Jean Valjean and a concert production of Show Boat at the Royal Albert Hall. Here’s a video of Owen-Jones singing “The Music of the Night” at the 66th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales.
After originating the role of Chris in Miss Saigon at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Bowman moved a few streets down the road to star in the operatic musical from September 1994. Taking over the role of Raoul, Bowman later made his Phantom debut in April 1996, appearing as part of the musical’s coveted 10th anniversary celebrations alongside original members Crawford and Sarah Brightman. Here’s an audio recording of Simon Bowman alongside Megan Kelly as Christine Daae.
He’s starred in a number of London’s greatest musicals, including Miss Saigon, Oklahoma! and Sweeney Todd, but did you know that Peter Polycarpou has played the Phantom? Taking over the role in 1991, the British born Greek-Cypriot actor sung alongside Shona Lindsay in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which you can listen to above. In recent years, Polycarpou has returned to operatic productions such as Man of La Mancha at the London Coliseum.
After winning a nationwide televised competition to play Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, Forster made his Phantom debut in 2016, starring in the show when the musical won an audience award at the 2017 Olivier Awards. It’s not the first time he’s appeared in a Lloyd Webber musical, previously in Evita at the Dominion Theatre, but has since starred in Elf.
Canadian singer and songwriter Tim Howar is best known as one sixth of rock group Mike and the Mechanics, however he’s built up a theatre CV any budding actor would dream of. Making his London debut at the turn of the century, he’s performed in Peggy Sue Got Married, Tonight’s the Night and On The Town. But, in recent years, he’s starred in Rock of Ages as Stacee Jaxx and Chess at the London Coliseum. Even though he’s not played the Phantom for long, we’re enjoying his unique, raspy take on the role.
Perhaps best known for his acclaimed performances in Les Miserables and an Olivier Award-winning role in Passion at the Donmar Warehouse, David Thaxton recently played the Phantom for a limited engagement in 2019. But, like Karimloo, Thaxton’s no stranger to the characters in The Phantom of the Opera, having appeared in the original cast of Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre. Listen to this Phantom medley to hear Thaxton in the role, alongside Amy Manford.