Friends, the other day while getting some paperwork done down here in the Vault, I was paid a visit by Rockford Jay. You might recall Rockford from the Saturday Frights podcast and even Facebook page – the poor soul who suffers at the hands of the Projectionist for all those imagined slights. Anyway, he was going through some of the records stored here and happened to come across something rather exciting. It appears that the Goddard Group in conjunction with MCA Recreation Services planned a 1989 Phantom stage show – a concept pitch put forward for the horror icon to appear on Stage 28 at Universal Studios Hollywood. Being a Monster Kid practically since birth, I immediately headed to the internet to try and find out what a 1989 Phantom stage show would have entailed. The Goddard Group by the way are the same folks responsible for the retooling of Six Flags over Georgia‘s Monster Plantation as well as the likes of Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future and even Skeleton Warriors.
It wasn’t just any version of the Phantom of the Opera either but the original film – the 1925 silent film version that helped make Universal Studios the house of horror, six years before Bela Lugosi would don the cape as Count Dracula, it was Lon Chaney who was terrifying audiences as the tortured and murderous soul beneath the Paris Opera House!
As for what a 1989 Phantom stage show would have given audiences? The exact details I’m afraid to say were a little sketchy at best with multiple sources online stating that it would in fact not only have been a stage show celebrating the Phantom himself but also his fellow Universal Monsters. All of this information I should add was thanks to the Goddard Group posting the failed 1989 pitch to their Facebook group page. You’ll notice in the concept art below that besides the Phantom being show on a massive theater screen – the Phantom of the Opera and the Theatre of Horrors also had images of such classic icons as the Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s Monster…and either an odd looking version of 1956’s The Mole People…or else that is supposed to be Jason Voorhes on display.
However…the trail of information stopped there…until I managed to take a moment and chat with the Projectionist, who it turns out knew just a little more than I did about the pitch. Something I will add that he took no small amount of delight in rubbing in my face – but apparently thanks to the Insider Universal forums there was one more bit of concept art that had been shared. This little beauty revealed what the entire 1989 Phantom stage show would have delivered had it been greenlit by Universal Studios Hollywood!
After the host or hostess of the 1989 Phantom stage show would have probably explained the history of horror movies for Universal Studios, maybe followed by clips from those classic movies – the Phantom himself would cast his shadow upon the theater screen. Possibly intending on entertaining the audiences himself as he plays his pipe organ it appears that demons are summoned, with the hostess sneaking up behind the mad composer.
Much like in the 1925 film, the Phantom’s mask is yanked away and it looks like it enrages him so much he truly summons demons to appear in the balconies and alcoves of stage 28 at Universal Studios Hollywood!
In the first panel of this last bit of concept art it states that “Phantom surprises audience” – maybe this is where the other Universal Monsters came into play? He is so angry at the betrayal of the host that he calls on his fellow monsters to menace the audience? It appears that the Goddard Group had quite the showstopper planned as the Phantom makes his presence known high above the crowds – ending it all with the simulated collapse of ceiling and chandelier!
Now there is a reason that this show would have been an amazing thing – beyond the fact that any chance to witness love for the Universal Monsters is amazing. You might have noticed I keep mentioning stage 28, a location that housed the Paris Opera House sets from 1925’s The Phantom of the Opera. That’s right, if the show had been greenlit it would have meant that after 64 years the Phantom would have haunted the very stage that helped to make him an horror icon once again!
I feel bad that we didn’t get the 1989 Phantom stage show – I feel worse though that in 2014, Stage 28 was demolished.
Now Universal Studios obviously made sure to save and preserve all of the original set pieces from Phantom of the Opera, but when you think of all the many films that filmed on that very sound stage – Dracula and even the 1943 remake of the classic silent Phantom film. As well as the exceptional Man of a Thousand Faces, the story of Lon Chaney starring James Cagney, and The Sting to name a few. That was an incredible amount of film history in one sound stage – at the very least though we can visit stage 28 when we feel like it thanks to YouTube and those lucky enough to have gone on the VIP tour of the sound stage.
[Via] Christopher Gomez
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