Phantom actor ends run after 23 years

George Lee Andrews, who holds the record for the longest run for an actor on a Broadway show, will be taking his final bow in The Phantom of the Opera after 23 years in the same production.

Portrayed one of the two theatre managers in the production

George Lee Andrews, who holds the Guinness World Records title for the most performances in the same Broadway show, will be taking his final bow in The Phantom of the Opera after 23 years in the same production.

Andrews is finishing his long run this Saturday after 9,382 performances.

Producers revealed this week that his contract to portray Monsieur André, one of the two managers of the Opera Populaire in Paris, would not be renewed.

The 68-year-old actor, who has weathered 12 different actors in the lead role of the Phantom, told the New York Times the news was at first a shock to him but he has since accepted it.

"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," Andrews told the paper in an interview Wednesday. "I’m a live theater animal. What other show in history could ever give me so much opportunity?"

Andrews said the producers sent him a "lovely" letter telling him they felt the play needed an injection of new blood.  Andrews has also played other secondary roles in the same production but was switched to the Monsieur André role about a decade ago.

The musical’s director, Harold Prince, praised the actor for his consistent professionalism.

"George has been a director’s dream, always quick to incorporate new ideas and never an actor who rests back into the same old performance," Prince said in a statement.

Previous to his Phantom run, the actor appeared in other productions, including the original Broadway productions of On the Twentieth Century and A Little Night Music.

Aaron Galligan-Stierle, who happens to be Andrews's son-in-law, takes over the role of Monsieur André and starts on Sept. 5.

Phantom has earned $825 million US  in New York so far and will hit its 25th anniversary in January 2013. More than 14.5 million people have seen the musical since it opened at the Majestic Theater in New York City on January 26, 1988.

One of the most successful musicals of all time, Phantom has played in 27 countries, including current productions on stage in Budapest, Las Vegas and Kyoto.