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Baton passes to ‘Phantom’

Tuner celebrates landmark event

“The Phantom of the Opera” played its 7,486th performance to a black-tie crowd Monday, surpassing “Cats” as the longest-running show in Broadway history.

But the “Cats” were gracious: In a special curtain-call sequence, a dancer dressed as a white cat passed the proverbial baton to the Phantom.

“Tonight again it was just like it was opening night for me,” said Andrew Lloyd Webber — the composer responsible for both “Cats” and “Phantom.”

Onstage, the crowd of revelers in the second-act opener “Masquerade” was filled out by members of the touring company. After the show, the crowd at the Waldorf-Astoria gala was filled out by the likes of Lauren Bacall and original Phantom Michael Crawford.

How does helmer Harold Prince think the show has held up since its Jan. 26, 1988, opening? “It’s been 18 years,” he said. “You tell me.”

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