On this day in pop culture history: ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ opened on Broadway

28 years ago today, “The Phantom of the Opera” had its official opening on Broadway, following previews that had begun on January 9, 1988. 

That Broadway opening had stage stars Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman reprising their roles as the Phantom and Christine Daaé, parts they had played in London”s West End when the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical premiered there in 1986.

With over 11,600 performances, “Phantom” is the longest-running show on Broadway, and over the years, it”s continued to wow audiences with its pounding synthesizer, impressive vocals, and unforgettable spectacle of the chandelier crashing to the stage floor.

Based on the 1910 French novel by Gaston Leroux, the musical got a film version starring Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum, and Patrick Wilson that was released in 2004.

The musical currently runs at Broadway”s Majestic Theatre. Look only to the continual ticket sales there for evidence of its staying power and permanent mark on pop culture – or to this past weekend”s first-ever BroadwayCon, where many cosplayers opted to pay homage to the Phantom and Christine.

Other notable January 26 happenings in pop culture history:

• 1957: Buddy Holly and the Crickets made their second and final appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

• 1970: Simon & Garfunkel released the single “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

• 1974: At the 31st Golden Globe Awards, “The Exorcist,” “American Graffiti,” McLean Stevenson (for “M*A*S*H”), and Al Pacino (for “Serpico”) took home statuettes.

• 1975: “Cracked Actor,” BBC”s 53-minute documentary about David Bowie, premiered.

• 1979: “The Dukes of Hazzard” premiered on CBS.

• 1987: “Square One Television” premiered on PBS.

• 1994: The second film in Krzysztof Kieslowski”s “Trois Couleurs” trilogy, “Three Colors: White,” premiered in France. All three films are part of The Criterion Collection.

• 1997: ZZ Top, The Blues Brothers, and James Brown performed at the Super Bowl XXXI halftime show.

• 2001: “The Wedding Planner,” starring Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey, opened in theaters.

• 2003: “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” premiered on ABC, replacing Bill Maher show “Politically Incorrect.”

• 2006: During a live broadcast of Oprah Winfrey”s talk show, James Frey admitted to fabricating and embellishing details of his best-selling memoir “A Million Little Pieces.”

• 2010: News broke that “Avatar” had become the highest-grossing film at the worldwide box office, surpassing “Titanic.”

Birthdays: comedian and TV host Ellen DeGeneres (58), “The Silence of the Lambs” actor Scott Glenn (75), “Switched at Birth” actor Gilles Marini (40), “Once Upon a Time” actor Colin O”Donoghue (35), “Less Than Perfect” actress Sarah Rue (38), “Good Night, and Good Luck” actor David Strathairn (67), rocker Eddie Van Halen (61)