Best Phantoms In Phantom of the Opera


The Top Ten

1 Ramin Karimloo

I've often seen people defending Gerard Butler by saying he only had a few (4, I believe) voice lessons before he took the role, and that Ramin's voice is "too nice" to be the voice of someone growing up in an opera house, but the phantom is SUPPOSED to have an angelic voice, like Ramin's. Also, Ramin (and, if I'm not mistaken, John Owen-Jones) has never had any voice lessons. He saw the Phantom as a child, and decided that's what he wanted to be. He trained himself, and that's literally exactly like the actual Erik. People also use the argument that Gerard is hotter, which I'll never get, but have you seen Ramin without his mask?!? He is GORGEOUS. Also, I've seen the argument that Gerard is the better actor, but, especially at the end, Gerik seems, well, kind of bored, whereas Ramin sounds like he has absolutely lost it, at the "ANGEL IN HELL", and "GO NOW AND LEAVE ME". Especially with all the screaming. Karimloo loves his phantom screams. He puts so much torture and grit when he's ...more

Ramin is totally the best! Well, maybe that's because I haven't seen Michael Crawford yet. Anyways, Ramin has that seductive touch, even with a hideous face, something that the Phantom SHOULD have. His voice is incredible as well, angelic, and a little demon-like scary when offended, like Phantom. His acting is also off the charts! He can shift from abusive to soft, from angelic to mean. He is totally BADASS. Plus, his voice fits the role perfectly, something that has a hypnotic quality that can actually bend the listener to his will- another noticeable characteristic of the Phantom. He is without a doubt the best so far. Scratch everything I've said- Ramin is Phantom. :))

He is the Phantom!

I've only been able to watch Ramin Karimloo on DVD and you tube, but I have to agree that he is the best Phantom out there, toppling even Michael Crawford. Crawford gives a classical, stylized performance, while Ramin definitely delivers the emotion, which coupled with an amazing voice, really makes you believe he IS the Phantom. Perhaps too, I am speculating that Ramin's success is partly due to the fact that he is the only performer compared to the others who has aspired to be the Phantom since childhood. I read that he skipped school and saw the Phantom at age 12, and life changed ever since. Gerard Butler delivers a brave, anguished performance, however his voice simply pales in comparison to Ramin.

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2 Michael Crawford

My mom told me that when I was about two years old, she would put on the disc of The Phantom of the Opera with Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. She would also tell me the story while we were listening. And I used to cry because I felt so sorry for the phantom. To this day, I still think that Michael Crawford has that haunting and melodious voice that brings the character life. He is the original phantom and the one I thank for getting me interested in musical theater and Broadway.

There's just something haunting about Michael Crawford's phantom. You can hear the sadness and the longing in every word that he sings.

Crawford brings a certain something to the Phantom that others, not even Ramin, can bring to the role. His voice has a ghostly quality to it and what he did with his hands is just incredible. I'm sorry but Ramin doesn't do that. His Music of the Night video is just so emotional and seductive, not only in the voice but in the acting. His performance has the perfect blend of being faithful to the original story but also being original in it's own way. THE Phantom now and always.

I couldn't choose between Ramin and Michael, but Michael's "Christine I loved you" and the way he sang it broke my heart

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3 Geronimo Rauch

Geronimo was the first Phantom that I saw in London. He was absolutely brilliant! Being Argentinian, I wondered how his pronunciations would be, but his singing and acting was absolutely breathtaking! Other than Michael Crawford, Ramin Karimloo, and John Owen Jones, I would definitely say that Geronimo sings one of the best versions of the title track that I've ever heard. His accent definitely added a uniqueness to the songs. A very powerful voice, and it's a shame that he's only played the role for just over a year. I hope he makes a return to the role one day. - imbo1993

His voice casts a spell on me each time I hear him sing!

Incredible voice and acting! never immagine a version like this

I have seen Geronimo 3 times as Phantom. Absolutely captivating. Also seen Ramin who is amazing. To me there are certain similarities with how they play the role. A tough call between the 2 for me. Leave the theatre on a cloud after watching Geronimo! Do hope he can find the time to return to the role. Spoke to him after the show and lovely.

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4 John Owen Jones

I saw John Owen Jones play the Phantom this Thursday just gone. I can't tell you how amazing he is, but then again, Phantom fans will already know how amazing he is. If you haven't seen him live on stage, then you must! I feel so privileged to have seen John play the Phantom on stage, especially considering that it was part of only a three month run, and also considering of how much of a Phantom legend that he is! He puts so much effort into his performance and his singing is just amazing. He has a lot of power in his voice as well as some very soothing tones. You haven't heard 'The Music of the Night' until you've heard John sing it! - imbo1993

One of the most beautiful voices to ever play the Phantom - no one can compare to him in theatricality.


Brilliant. Such an expressive voice.

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5 Colm Wilkinson

Wilkinson's voice is always remarkable!

To me, not only is he able to blow away this role with his amazing voice, he best portrays the tortured character that is the phantom as well. His portrayal so precisely captures the essence of whom the phantom is - his weaknesses and his power. Colm is best able to evoke emotion from his audience by not only singing and acting the part but becoming the part. I remember watching him as phantom in the Canadian show and I got goosebumps!

I was fortunate to see the Phantom in Toronto with Colm Wilkinson as the Phantom, but it has also a curse as well. There is no other that I have seen than even compares to Colm Wilkinson. He not only has an incredible voice, but you could feel the pain in his character, portraying the torn soul that was the Phantom. I am happy to see that the Cameron Macintosh Phantom is being performed in Boston, but Cooper Grodin is no Colm Wilkinson. Everything else will continue to pale in comparison.

The original and the best, saw him many times in Toronto. His performance as the Phantom inspired Ramin Karimloo as a child back when Toronto School kids were taken to see the Phantom on a regular basis.

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6 Hugh Panaro

There is something amazingly creepy and seductive, even pure, about Hugh Panaro's voice... and I think it's an absolutely wonderful combination! He is truly a lovable yet frightening Phantom (one of the few actually scary ones), not to mention colorful with the bits of wit and humor he throws in. It's just so FRESH. He acts with subtle little details that makes his rendition of the character so real and breathtaking, as can be witnessed with every precise, significant, and elegant action and movement. I guess Mr. Hugh Panaro wouldn't be among someone's favorites if they couldn't appreciate how amazingly he can seemingly channel the Joker into his Phantom while still making him this pitiful, sad and lonely creature; it really is a wonder, and quite a legend!

Absolutely brilliant. Raised the hairs on my neck when I saw him in New York. Ramin Karimloo is a very close second followed by Mchael Crawford.

Hugh is FAR superior to any other Phantom to have ever played the role; speaking strictly from a musical/vocal performance stance. As an actor, he is right up there with Michael and JOJ. Overall, Hugh still takes my #1 - spot, then JOJ (again because of his superior vocals) and then finally #3 - Michael. On a side-nite, Hugh is such a BEAUTIFUL SOUL!

He's the first and only Phantom that I've seen on Broadway, ans his voice is just fantastic. He nearly brought me to tears when he sang The Music of the Night. I think that he's so much better than Ramin Karimloo, Michael Crawford, and Colm Wilkonson. He also portrays the Phantom with perfect wit and sarcasm.

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7 Anthony Warlow

The voice what more needs to be said

There are times in life when no words do a person justice. This is one such time. I've had the privilege of seeing Anthony Warlow portray the Phantom in 1990, then again in 2007 and finally in Adelaide where Warlow donned the mask for the final time on 23 May 2009. Never cried so much at a show in all my life. Perfection

Sublime. His portrayal absorbs you into the performance with power and strength along with softness and emotion. The word brilliant isn't strong enough.

Very seriously underrated as the Phantom. Compares well side-by-side, as at the anniversary performance.

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8 Norm Lewis

Norm is an incredible baritone singer which I think is meant for the Phantom. His chemistry with Sierra Boggess may be overlooked because of Ramin but nevertheless it was just as compelling.

His rendition of Music of the Night is a huge inspiration to me and I must prefer him as the Phantom than I did as Javert (he was ok but not one of my favourites... he was average).

His romantic Phantom is so realistic. His Final Lair always makes me cry, especially when he repeats "I love you." Unfortunately the producers said his Phantom needed to be more childish, even though Norm wanted a more serious Phantom. The only flaws in his Phantom are the producer's fault. He is the Phantom for me.

His exceptional baritone voice gives the character an even more vivid depth

Loved Norm as the phantom

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9 Peter Jöback

So magical to listen to live. So much emotion and beauty in his voice. You can hear the pain and longing.

Peter makes some great acting choices which makes him a very moving phantom. His voice may not be as strong as some other's, but it's unusually beautiful and magical. He's also very musical, expressing the sensuality of this music instead of belting out the notes.

His voice reminds me a bit of Crawford. It's kind of odd but there's something in it I like.

He's a really underrated Phantom. I love his voice and think his acting is great!

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10 Robert Guillaume

Robert Guillaume! He brought me to tears with his rendition.

Hands Down-Rest in Peace my Phantom...Robert Guillaume

My husband and I have seen the Phantom of the Opera 3 times at the Ahmason Theater in Los Angeles. The first time Davis Gaines played the lead and was very good. Then we wanted to hear Michael Crawford because we had heard that he was wonderful...much to our dismay when we arrived at the theater Mr. Crawford was ill and was replaced by Robert Guillaume ((Benson? Can Benson even sing? I just knew that we were going to be disappointed! )) WELL, let me tell you Benson CAN Sing...imagine how excited we were when Mr. Guillaume started to sing his first song! His voice sent chills down my spine...he was Fantastic! About a year later we did go to see Michael Crawford as the Phantom and yes he is Wonderful, but Mr Robert Guillaume will always be the voice of the Phantom to my husband and I. Signed, Nancy Hubbard from Anaheim, CA.

The Contenders

11 Gerard Butler Gerard Butler

I prefer the stage production to the film and think that overall, Ramin Karimloo is the better Phantom but I really love Gerard's slightly tuneless but gritty, rock vocals. It's these vocals which make the Phantom more believable. I like that it's not as "polished" as the stage production. - Britgirl

Yes, the others aren't that bad and tenor is the idea romantic voice but... I imagine the phantom being dark and mysterious. Gerard sang as a baritone and portrayed my idea of the phantom 99.9% clearly! If only he had more experience with singing I think the rest would agree. His voice and acting made me feel the emotions his character had felt. I think he did an outstanding job for someone who wasn't as skilled at singing as the rest!

Gerard Butler may not be the best singer, but he has incredible acting skills and a demeanor that compensate for all his vocal flaws. Despite all the flaws, I find his voice incredible and powerful and very emotional as well as expressive. There is a reason that Lloyd Webber chose him himself.

He was the phantom, his eyes showed the pain and loneliness that the phantom felt of being an outcast for his looks, and the love he felt for Christine, his voice was amazing, its not perfect but that's good. It made me feel the pain and sorrow of the phantom and he made me feel like I was in the movie

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12 John Cudia

Incredible portrayal of the final lair scene. John is a top 5 for me

He was my first Raoul and second phantom. So awesome. God bless john

13 Brent Barrett
14 Earl Carpenter

Guys, you are putting everyone else first mainly for their voice. Earl really gets into the essence of the character. He is so gently with every Christine he plays, it is beautiful.

He is a great actor, he is so passionate when he sings. You can feel the emotion of the Phantom through Earl Carpenter's voice. He's just so alluring.

I agree. He struggles a bit more with the high notes but there's such passion in his performance. I would say that JOJ, Ramin and Earl are the most convincing phantoms I've seen.

15 Anthony Crivello
16 James Barbour

Beautiful Voice.
He should be in the top 10!

Beautiful voice! Perfect for the part!

I can't even begin to express how phenomenal his performance was. I think my jaw actually dropped upon hearing his, "Insolent boy! " His deep baritone voice drew me in immediately, full, dark and mysterious like I believe the Phantom should be. He also used his whole entire body to act, gesturing with his hands and walking at certain paces that enriched the experience just a little more than I've seen it in the past. He's definitely my favorite portrayal of the Phantom to date.

His voice is absolutely amazing with so much emotion! He had the smoothest voice and he was absolutely amazing! His voice was great! He was mysterious but also handsome at the same time. It was so amazing!

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17 Peter Karrie

Peter Karrie is, without question, the best Phantom ever.

Wow! Just wow!

The best ever!

18 Ben Lewis

He's the best.

In my opinion, Ben Lewis is the best actor of the phantom. I think he portrays to phantom really well and clearly takes on the persona of the phantom. He shows all emotions and facial expressions really well and he changes his voice to be alike with his emotions, definitely number 1! X

Ben Lewis is amazing! I'm not saying he's the best but he is at least number 3! Have any of you seen him in Love Never Dies! He has an amazing voice and just like Ramin, he can be strong and sexy and times, but also weak when the phantom should be weak.

I love Ben Lewis' take of the phantom. Being a baritone added so much emotion. I'm not saying he's the best because in my opinion Ramin Karimloo is better. But Ben is definitely one of my favorites

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19 Gary Mauer

The most underrated phantom. His clarity is stunning and his highest notes seem effortless. I get chills every time.

Loved Gary Maurer as the Phantom. There is no one better‼️

20 Ben Crawford

I like his face.

21 Davis Gaines

I think Gaines was the best Phantom! I can still hear his voice when I hear others perform. With that said, there are others who do a great with a great role!

Davis Gaines if by far my favorite phantom. His voice is perfect for the roll and is stunning. Wish I could have been there to see it/

I saw Gaines in L.A. in 94. He held up th the Phantom standards. I was raised on Crawford a few years earlier, he still rules. Whoever played Christine also kept the show alive but she was weaker than Sarah and too shrill and forced.

Saw Davis Gaines at the Ahmason in LA and again in New York. He is the ONE who all others are measured. BRAVO, Mr Gaines!

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22 Franc D'Ambrosio

I have seen three of the top ten listed Phantoms here and in my view Franco ties at #1 with Ramin. They are very similar, with their strong, clear low notes and smooth tone. Franco made his long run in the role of Phamtom in San Francisco during the 1990s. Sensational voice and his acting talent added the physical emotion to the role that I found unmatched. - Liebling

23 Lon Chaney

Why is he not in the top 3, the very first phantom ever, all the way back to 1925.

If it wasn't for him there would be no Phantom.

24 Chris Mann

The most beautiful voice of all the Phantoms.

Chris Mann is to us the most authentic, moving and exquisite of voices and stage presence---undeniably our favorite Phantom!

25 Simon Bowman

His rich, powerful voice both makes you feel like he has control over Christine whilst wanting to take care of her and admiring her completely. He's an extremely underrated performer with so much soul and passion

He's got an amazing voice. He can sing those powerful notes and the gentle floating ones perfectly. Extremely underrated. I only wish there were more videos/ tracks available of him as the phantom. I'd listen to him all day!

26 Steve Barton

This man was the best at every role he ever tackled - and Phantom is no exception. Sure, everybody will think of him as Raoul because he was the first to do that role in the ALW version, but screw that stuff. His deep, emotional, tortured baritone belting is exactly what the doctor ordered - even though no doctor can help those who has heart attacks from that chandelier, ha!

Anyway, Steve is the biggest talent in the history of musical theater. And that goes for his performance as the Phantom, too.

27 Cooper Grodin

Cooper Grodin's Phantom is not only sexy, but tortured as he sings and acts out his love for Christine whom he needs for his music. Cooper's voice in "Music of the Night", and duets with Christine on "Point of Return", and "Angel of Music", knocked me out of my seat! He plays Phantom with a feeling and depth that reach right into your heart so you find yourself rooting for him to get the girl. His performance is that heart rendering and touching.

I just saw Cooper Grodin in Boston on Opening Night, and his voice truly took my breath away. There is this velvety nuance in his voice that strikes a chord with me. I have scoured the other recorded versions of this musical, and as wonderful as the other Phantoms have been, I truly prefer Grodin's voice over the rest.

Phantom for the West End Production. Saw him in Chicago. Cooper is marvelous! Especially impressed since he stepped in after the original Phantom left the production. I fell in love with his voice right after "Music of the Night." Truly portrays the "Angel of Music" perfectly.

Been in the pit orchestra at the Boston Opera House, listening every night, - Cooper nails it every night. Played 40 minutes of Phantom in "The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber" for 550 performances, many of them with Michael Crawford. I MUCH prefer Cooper Grodin's voice and characterization in this role.

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28 Henk Poort

He's the Dutch Phantom, and a brilliant one! He should have been singing and playing his Phantom in West End or braodway and he would have soared! Epic voice, mesmerizing singing!

Too bad that he didn't performe on westend. He certainly would have been one of the very best! I've seen him perform several times. He got better and better after each performance

29 Derrick Davis

His phantom blew me away! His range was incredible and his final lair was powerful. I felt he captured the emotions of Ramin Karimloo's phantom as well as the psychotic element of Hugh Panaro's while adding his own pain and violence to it. It was an amazing performance.

30 Rob Guest
31 Kevin Gray

Kevin was such a captivating phantom, it was easy to see that he immersed himself both mentally and physically into his role as phantom.

32 Travis Taylor

I just saw phantom last night at tpac for my birthday, and this guy was the phantom. He was amazing!

33 Matt Camelle

He's the best less known performer. He masters every sound from soft whisper to thundering.

34 Scott Davies

I just saw him as the Phantom and wow I was amazed. He is absolutely wonderful, his voice was stunning and his acting even better! Met him at the stage door and he was so nice and signed everyone's tickets! He told me that I was the "new generation" after I told him that this was my first time seeing the show!

35 Charles Dance

Definitely my favorite of all time. He brought a sense of human-ness to the role. He's not trying to manipulate Christine, nor is he abusing her (as much, if we count locking someone in a room as abuse). He didn't even know Christine until she was at the opera house. So we get to see him before that. He's also probably the least violent phantom.

36 Robert Englund Robert Englund Robert Barton Englund is an American actor, voice actor, singer, and director, best known for playing the infamous serial killer Freddy Krueger in the Nightmare on Elm Street film series.
37 Ben Forster

This performance is very underrated and I think he is one of the best. His voice may not be to everyone's taste but I thought he did an amazing job and he did get better as his tenure went on.

He looked really good too despite the artists over-doing the make-up. But I love how he filled that costume and his immediate Michael Crawford-esque presence. He has even said in live videos that Crawford was his main insperation and even went out of way to read Gaston Leroux's original novel. Now that is method acting!

Point is, I love this man. He is incredibly talented and I would love to see him play this part again. He's also said that he's interested in playing Jean Valjean as well. That I would love to see!

38 David Shannon

Even though he was only an understudy to either Ramin or JOJ, I think he pulled off the Phantom really well with his sometimes menacing voice. His performance in Final Lair is unbelievable, he also had great chemistry with Gina Beck as well who is one of my favourite Christines.

39 Claude Rains Claude Rains William Claude Rains (10 November 1889 – 30 May 1967) was an English film and stage actor whose career spanned 46 years. After his American film debut with The Invisible Man (1933) he played in classic films like The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939), The Wolf Man more.

His phantom was tragic character and father figure of christine even name after him

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