Carroll Alum Makes Broadway History in "The Phantom of the Opera" Finale
Since its opening in January of 1988, more than 6,500 artists have delighted 20 million theatergoers throughout 13,981 performances of The Phantom of the Opera during its 35 year run. Kyle Anderson ‘07 played in the pit orchestra for the show’s final six weeks, including the historic closing night of the longest running production in Broadway history.
Anderson’s involvement with the legendary Broadway musical began in August of 2022 when he became the french horn substitute for the show. He had played off and on before taking a long-term substitute position for the show’s final six weeks, including the curtain call on April 16, 2023. It was during that six week stay that Anderson became very close with his fellow pit orchestra colleagues, 11 of whom had been playing with the show since the beginning of the production, years before Anderson was even born. “It didn’t matter how long you had been there,” Kyle said, “Everyone was close, especially with all of the emotions about the close (of the show).”
“Bittersweet” was a common feeling for Anderson and the rest of the cast and crew during those final six weeks, as some orchestra members were moving on to other gigs and others were retiring after making The Phantom of the Opera their lifelong career. “It was bittersweet for me too because I had just started bonding with everyone and had had six full weeks there (with eight shows per week),” he said.
Anderson had the pleasure of playing under the show’s music supervisor and conductor, David Caddick, who had been with the show since its initial workshop days prior to its Broadway run. As standard practice for musicians entering a Broadway show, Anderson was given a video of Caddick conducting to rehearse with at home, and he was able to sit in the pit orchestra during one of the shows to read through the orchestral score. Unlike other Broadway gigs, however, Kyle had three rehearsals with the full pit, as new music was added to the show’s closing for when the show’s creator, Andrew Lloyd Webber, its producers, and the original cast members joined the final cast members onstage at the end of the show.
He recalled the electricity buzzing throughout the Majestic Theatre on closing night. “I had never heard (an audience) reception like that. Every time somebody came onstage, the audience went wild, and it was just crazy,” he remembered.
Though his experience with Phantom was an incredible moment in his career, it was not his Broadway debut, nor was it the first time he had played in a pit orchestra. Kyle started playing the piano at age five and then switched to the french horn when he was ten. It was then that he knew that he wanted to make a career out of playing the horn, hoping to someday play in a symphony orchestra.
During his time at Archbishop Carroll High School, Kyle was very involved in the music program, and he recalls the valuable lessons he learned from current Music Department chair Mr. Carl Soucek and the other directors involved with the program during Kyle’s time playing in the concert band, musical pit orchestras, and the marching band. “I just remember it being a fun time – that it never felt like work. I carry that positive, fun, competitive attitude to what I do today,” Anderson said. He also fondly recalled his involvement in the pit orchestras for the Muse Machine musicals as well.
After graduating from high school, Kyle continued his french horn studies at Julliard, and he has been involved with several ensembles and symphonies since. His involvement with the American Symphony Orchestra led Kyle to work with the principal horn player for Phantom, and an opportunity arose. Having worked with additional Broadway pit orchestra professionals, Anderson had networking connections that allowed him to first audition for a horn substitute seat on his first Broadway show, The Lion King, in September of 2019. He will play his 100th show there this May.
In addition to The Lion King, he is currently the french horn seat substitute for four additional Broadway productions. He plays horn for Moulin Rouge! The Musical, Camelot, and he accompanies Josh Groban in the new revival of Sweeny Todd. This May, he will add more Broadway history to his resume when he started playing as the substitute french horn player for New York, New York, the new adaptation of John Kander and the late Fred Ebb’s score with additional lyrics from Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Channeling the positive energy and fun he learned from his Patriot music ensembles, Kyle says he is enjoying turning his everyday job into a passion and hobby. “It’s fun to play these new shows,” Anderson said. He feels like he is at the top of his game and that he has “made it.” In the future, he hopes to secure a more permanent chair position in a Broadway musical, like many of his colleagues had while playing for The Phantom of the Opera. That experience, for Anderson, “was probably one of the largest moments in my career so far, and I think it’s going to be hard to top that."