As “Phantom of the Opera” comes to a close this Sunday, early indications are that the Ahmanson will not see another open-ended run of a major show again.
While officials at the Los Angeles Music Center are still keeping their plans for the downtown theater under wraps, sources have said there are definite plans to relocate the theater’s subscribers back to the Ahmanson and away from the Doolittle, where the subscription series was moved during “Phantom’s” four years-plus run.
When that will happen remains in question, pending official announcements in mid-September. It will be at least one more year before the Ahmanson’s reconfiguration is completed — that much is known.
There was speculation several months ago that “Miss Saigon”might be a possible contender for another lengthy, open-ended run at the Ahmanson, given the record-busting success of “Phantom.”
Ironically, when the Ahmanson was chosen as the site for “Phantom’s” L.A. run , the theater had been coming off a string of financially unsettling years, partly due to a dearth of musical product or large shows that could benefit from the 2,071-seat house.
The theater also had reached a time of flux, as longtime artistic director Robert Fryer was exiting and there were several interim directors (among them Martin Manulis and Marshall Mason) brought in.
Since that time, Mark Taper Forum artistic director Gordon Davidson stepped in to take the reins of the sister theater and, for the past four years, he’s been administrating seasons in the much smaller, more intimate Hollywood-based Doolittle theater (where Ahmanson subscribers have been going).
Music Center officials are now expected to announce in mid-September their plans to reconfigure the Ahmanson, which will likely include downsizing the theater space to 1,400 seats. Early plans indicated that the theater’s size would be flexible, so that it could also accommodate larger shows.
And while “Phantom” has seemed to be a cash cow for a venue that has seen its days of being financially strapped, sources say that the theater’s original mission was not to be a one-show house.
Which doesn’t mean that the theater may not offer extended runs at future dates, up to six or possibly eight months. But not four years, according to several sources.
Of course few people could have predicted that “Phantom” would have run four years. At the most, officials initially believed the show would run for two years.
Yet when the curtain falls on Sunday night, the show will have brought in more than $ 154 million, a record for Los Angeles.