Nightly News | January 25, 2013
>>> finally tonight, you see the curtains behind us, it means it's a big weekend for the longest-running show ever on broadway . tomorrow night, " phantom of the opera " marks 25 years on broadway . and while hundreds of other shows have come and gone in that time, " phantom " has been strong eight times a week since january 26th , 1988 . we get the story tonight from nbc's kristen dahlgren.
>> reporter: the biggest blockbuster in history isn't "avatar," not "titanic" --
>> this is bad.
>> reporter: or even the entire " star wars " franchise.
>> reporter: it turns out, a phantom has all of them beat.
>> reporter: the phantom of the opera has grossed more than $5.6 billion worldwide. 130 million people have seen it, and on saturday, it will celebrate 25 years on broadway .
>> i thought everybody in the world had seen it.
>> reporter: 87-year-old sylvia bailey has been an usher since the show first opened back in 1988 .
>> they still love it. they go, ooh.
>> reporter: the appeal is universal.
>> reporter: phantom has been performed in 28 countries.
>> it really is like "downton abbey." it's got sex, it's got love. it's got everything you want in a really good story.
>> reporter: she was only 5 when phantom opened on broadway .
>> i had the cassette tape and i used to listen and sing along with it.
>> reporter: the production is massive.
>> there's nothing like sitting underneath it. it's still thrilling. still thrilling when people come in.
>> reporter: the actors who play the phantom have to endure 90 minutes of makeup. and even though the show has gone through more than a ton of makeup recover over the years --
>> i wake up stuck to my pillow sometimes. you find it like in your knee. it's like, where did that come from?
>> reporter: but he says it's well worth it, for a role that seems to stick so much with audiences.
>> it's timeless. i think that's why we're still doing it.
>> reporter: and there's no end in sight. which is good, because nobody has plans to leave.
>> i'm going to be here as long as the phantom is here. when the phantom leaves, i'm leaving.
>> reporter: kristen dahlgren, nbc news, new