Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford in The Phantom of the Opera

Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford in The Phantom of the Opera

For his hit show The Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber took Gaston Leroux's 1911novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, which had already spawned several plays and films, and adapted it into a musical. The story is based on a series of mishaps which actually occurred at the Paris Opera House in the 1880s. It tells of a disfigured musical genius, living beneath the theatre who falls in love with a beautiful soprano. In his desperation to have his love returned, he sets in train some terrifying events, causing chaos, terror and death. The labyrinthine passageways of the vast Paris Opéra, complete with underground lake, were a perfect setting for Leroux's melodramatic ghostly tale. Lloyd Webber's show opened at Her Majesty's in 1986 and received a ten minute standing, stamping ovation on its first night. It is still running, and the 'flamboyant melodious score' (Observer) has taken it on to worldwide success.