Crawford's secret? Pure genius
Michael Crawford has never been much of a drinker but at the moment his is looking for sponsorship from Guinness. He sees a few pints of the velvet stuff as being the best life support system when he enters the title role of the Phantom.
"Once I'm in make-up I can't eat, it will just have to be liquids and on matinee days that's going to be a problem. Just on evening shows I doubt I'm going to be able to get to the pub".
A curious chair - "They say it's a barber's but it looks more like a dentist's" - has been installed in his dressing room to enable him to rest while in his grotesque garb.
After turning himself into a circus artist for the three-year run of Barnum. Mr Crawford may seem to be something of a glutton for punishment.
He said: "No, that's not the case at all. When you get something of this quality coming along you would do anything for it. I certainly don't feel I'm making any sacrifices".
He is working now at making the Phantom a flesh-and-blood three-dimensional character rather than the masked figure who appears and disappears (clue!) magically throughout the piece.
He said: "We hope the audience feels some sympathy for him. He was born with a terrible deformity but is a worldly man who could be a genius.
The cheery Mr Crawford might have been a surprise choice for this demanding musical role but only to those who did not know of his boyhood entry into theatre as a young soprano in Benjamin Britten operas. He is now a bright and bell-like tenor.
"I've been going to singing lessons and building up the bellows. I sang for six solid hours yesterday and that's not something you can usually do.
"But when I got up this morning the pains in my chest were so bad I could hardly stand. But at least I survived".
Michael Owen, The London Standard, 19 September 1986