Nothing can equal the stamina or patience of George Lee Andrews who’s appeared in Phantom of the Opera for 9,382 performances in just over 23 years. He was in the original cast, and has played four different roles, but the performance on September 3 will be his last.
The 68-year-old has been with Phantom since its opening night on January 26, 1988, and originated the roles of Don Attilio and Passarino in the musical’s show-within-a-show. He hands over his current Phantom role as opera manager Monsieur André to his son-in-law, Aaron Galligan-Stierle.
Andrews was surprised in May when he learnt that his six-month contract, which had been renewed more than 40 times before, wouldn’t be renewed.
Harold Prince said that he had wanted to keep the actor but Andrews accepted the reasoning of Cameron Mackintosh who wrote him a letter describing the need for new blood to strengthen “Phantom” for an indefinite commercial run.
I’ve had a career that has been different than any other Broadway actor, but one thing is true for all of us: jobs end. I decided pretty quickly that dwelling on the producers’ decision didn’t make any sense, given how much happiness ‘Phantom’ has given me. I’m a live theatre animal. What other show in history could ever give me so much opportunity?
Photo: George Lee Andrews as Monsieur André in Phantom of the Opera, © Joan Marcus