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‘Phantom’ finale unveiled

“The Phantom of the Opera” will end its record-breaking four-year run at the Ahmanson Theatre, producers of the Los Angeles version announced yesterday. The final performance will be on Sunday, Aug. 29.

“The enormous success of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ in Los Angeles has delighted and amazed us all,” said producer Cameron Mackintosh.

He said one of the “crucial” reasons the decision was made to close the show was to allow the Los Angeles Music Center to move forward with its plans to reconfigure the Ahmanson, where “Phantom” has been playing since May 1989.

The show long ago became the top-selling legit tuner in L.A. history, topping the $ 100 million mark in March 1992. As of last Sunday, it had grossed $ 132, 509,621.

Before it opened, it generated $ 15.3 million in advance ticket sales.

Once the show closes, the extensive and complex set pieces will be disassembled and moved up to San Francisco, where they will be reconfigured for the smaller Curran theater. The San Francisco production opens Thursday, Dec. 2.

As for the Ahmanson, Music Center officials are now planning to proceed with a $ 12 million to $ 13 million plan to revamp the 2,071-seat venue.

Two years ago, Center officials first began to research reconfiguration ideas for the Ahmanson, saying its size and acoustics are problematic for non-musical fare.

In March 1991, CTG officials chose the architectural firm Ellerbe Becket to spearhead a redesign that would make the theater’s interior a smaller, more intimate 2,000-seat house. The design included movable walls that could bring the number of seats down to 1,750, 1,500 or 1,270.

The plan also includes lowering the ceiling 15-20 feet and bringing the balconies closer to the stage. “What will happen is that we will now go into the design development phase of the project,” said CTG’s Tony Sherwood.

What that means remains sketchy, as CTG officials won’t even comment on the source of funding for this project.

“We hope to have the details in place over the next few weeks,” Sherwood said.

Meanwhile, the Ahmanson’s audiences, who have been traveling to the Doolittle Theater in Hollywood for the last four years, will be able to return to Bunker Hill once the reconfiguration is completed.

As for the Doolittle, CTG is currently leasing it from UCLA on a year-to-year basis. The current lease ends in July.

Yesterday, UCLA officials said that their plans for the Doolittle will not change in the near future as the Ahmanson shows will likely remain there for at least a year.

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