Michael Jackson Might Have Been Phantom???

Could you imagine the late Michael Jackson as theatre’s most famous masked man? Apparently he could. Since the singer’s sudden death last Thursday (25 June 2009), composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has revealed that Jackson approached him about starring in the movie of The Phantom of the Opera.

According to media reports, Jackson was so moved by the stage musical, that he saw the Broadway production several times after it opened in 1988, often visiting backstage with the cast, and had numerous discussions with Lloyd Webber, saying “I want this movie role”. However, at the time, Lloyd Webber felt that a film was premature. The composer said: “Michael became interested in playing the Phantom himself, in a movie version of the show. We talked about it a lot, but we’d only just opened and, at the time, I felt that it was too early for it to become a film. I felt his interest in Phantom was because he was interested in doing something theatrical himself.”

Lloyd Webber continued: “The story got to him (Jackson). I think he had a connection with the lonely, tortured musician. He found the idea of somebody working through music and having a girl as a muse very intriguing – and he loved that there was illusion in the show.”

The title role in the eventual 2004 film of The Phantom of the Opera went to Gerard Butler. While the King of Pop never broke into theatre himself, his fans have been paying tribute to him this week at the West End’s Lyric Theatre, home of Thriller – Live, the show inspired by Jackson’s music. Flowers, pictures and other commemorative items have been placed outside the theatre by myriad fans making their condolences to the pop legend at the place where his music still hits the stage and where, last Friday, the lights were dimmed in his honour (See News, 26 Jun 2009).