Top 10 Best Phantoms in Phantom of the Opera

The Top Ten
1 Ramin Karimloo

He is always and remains the Best Phantom of all time! Your voice "meets" the sound of the music, a perfect melody. His voice is perfect, it can get light and smooth in moments, or it becomes so strong and loud. He stages and embodies the character perfectly, with the face and acting very well in several scenes, and together with Sierra Boggess it is perfection! My final and true definition is that Ramin Karimloo IS THE PHANTOM!

I've only been able to watch Ramin Karimloo on DVD and YouTube, 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 to see 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.

2 Michael Crawford

The Personality of Erik: He really really felt it, you can hear it in every single phrase. The end is almost unbearable to listen to because it is so deeply touching. This is real art in purity! (Saying this as a professional opera singer - who are not exactly known to be the greatest fans of musicals). His dedication to this role is and will be unreachable for any other actor.

Crawford, it's not even close. No one captured the crippling loneliness, the burning desire, the heart aching love the Phantom had like he did. No one has ever replicated that haunting, soaring angelic voice, that absolutely maniacal laugh, no one walked with his elegance and sensuality, no one was ever to express carnal need with so much sensuality and grace with just his two hands. Crawford's absolute love for the character he helped birth (just listen to him talk about him in interviews, it will make you cry) shines through the Phantom like a diamond. That's why it will never ever be replicated.

3 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 how much of a Phantom legend 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!

Though I think nobody beats Ramin Karimloo, I think that John Owen Jones is my second favorite. I've never seen him do the whole thing, but I have watched clips.

His voice actually sounds very close to Ramin's, so if you like Ramin Karimloo's portrayal of the Phantom, you'll like John Owen Jones, too.

Jones does a good job crying in his voice (like Ramin) and does a very good job on Music of the Night (also like Ramin!).

That's all I've got to say, because, as I said, I haven't watched anything but clips. I will show you my favorite Phantoms list, though.

1: Ramin Karimloo
2: John Owen Jones
3: Colm Wilkinson

Bye!

4 Geronimo Rauch

Geronimo was the first Phantom I saw in London. He was absolutely brilliant! Being Argentinian, I wondered how his pronunciations would be, but his singing and acting were 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. He has 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.

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 he's lovely.

5 Colm Wilkinson

I was fortunate to see the Phantom in Toronto with Colm Wilkinson as the Phantom, but it has also been a curse as well. There is no other that I have seen that 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 Mackintosh Phantom is being performed in Boston, but Cooper Grodin is no Colm Wilkinson. Everything else will continue to pale in comparison.

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 who 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!

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 make 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!

Hugh Panaro was the second Phantom I saw live, besides listening to Crawford on CD, but the first to make me care, to understand the depth of the Phantom's "love" for Christine. His powerful and controlled singing perfectly conveys the creepiness and the tenderness of his feelings, making us repelled yet sympathetic to his need for Christine's affection. Hugh is No. 1 followed by Rahim, JoJ, and I'm very excited about James Barbour's baritone Phantom!

7 Norm Lewis

He is absolutely amazing! His voice is deep and rich, full of passion and meaning. He portrays the Phantom as a more cool and collected character at most parts, the parts he didn't being when he was told not to, and he just blows me away every time! My personal favorite of his is "Past the Point of No Return". It has the perfect amount of darkness, excitement, and longing all mixed into one enchanting experience! And if you enjoyed him as the Phantom, you should check him out as Javert in the musical Les Misérables. The name is French, but the dialogue is in English!

My vote goes to Norm Lewis because of his majestic, full voice, unlike Michael Crawford's quacking. I mean, an ultimate version of Music of the Night is the one from Alfie Boe, but Alfie never actually played Phantom. John Owen Jones is the best Valjean in the known universe, yet he does not have the voice. I think the Phantom should not have a quacky high voice, but a wide, dense, and surrounding one, and in this category, Mr. Lewis fits perfectly.

8 Anthony Warlow

You can see why Anthony was at the 25th anniversary production. He owned the Phantom. Simply the best and one of Australia's best talents.

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.

9 Peter Jöback

His voice is a lot brighter than the others who have played the Phantom before, but he adds an element to the Phantom which hasn't been seen before. As he put it, "I want to play the abused child, instead of the monster," which is an interesting take. He clearly can sing, and the difference in voice, from the other "darker" voices, is an excellent choice I think. Very good!

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

Peter is outstanding in every single way. His performing is moving, mesmerizing, magical. The way he looks at the character is truly inspiring. He knows what he's doing. He's the best.

10 Gerard Butler

In an interview, Andrew Lloyd Webber personally chose and trained Gerard Butler for the Phantom. The movie requires close-ups, and the acting must be compelling and not overly done as compared to the stage, where the actors are far from the audience and emotions must be "big". Gerard's acting and characterization are what Andrew wanted to achieve in the movie. He wants the raw emotions, and not the perfection of notes, though Gerard did well considering he is not a trained professional singer. Bringing theatre actors to the movie screen sometimes requires a lot of unlearning because they have been trained to overemphasize gestures, movement, emotions, and even voice modulations because we cannot see facial expressions much from afar.

I love Gerard Butler as the Phantom. It is because of Gerard Butler that "The Phantom of the Opera" is one of my favorite movies/musicals. Plus, I loved how low of a voice he gave to the Phantom, and because of that, you can feel the Phantom's pain and loneliness. Also, I really loved listening to his version of "Music of the Night." Just the way he sings it always makes me feel relaxed when I listen to it. Plus, I always loved how during the songs "The Phantom of the Opera," "Wandering Child," & "Past the Point of No Return," how both his and Emmy Rossum's voices just melt into each other.

The Contenders
11 John Cudia

He was my first Phantom from when I was in middle school. To me, it's a testament of his impact and talent that over ten years later I'm going back to his videos to hear his performances.

He was my first Raoul and second Phantom. So awesome. God bless John.

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

12 Robert Guillaume

My husband and I have seen the Phantom of the Opera three times at the Ahmanson 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.

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

13 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 gentle with every Christine he plays with, 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.

14 Ben Lewis

Everyone who's still stuck in 2012 and comparing Ben Lewis with Ramin Karimloo for LND, wake up! Ben was the principal Phantom in London from 2017-18, and he is incredible! I really appreciate the full, dark, rich quality of Ben's voice. Look, this man has perfect pitch, can belt the high notes with zero stress (and make MOTN seem like it's transposed down when it's really not), and his voice fills the theatre. I find Ben to match Leroux's description of Erik's voice the best, as Erik is described to sound like "the God of Thunder". Similarly, Ben's acting as Erik is pretty original and spot on. He has an absolutely horrifying laugh, he throws violent tantrums like a child that is emotionally undeveloped (which the Phantom is), and his tears and sadness are absolutely heart-wrenching. He actually cries for real.

I don't know how this man summoned the passion that he does for a role he played 9 times a week, but I love him all the more for it. Also, his "All I Ask of You" reprises (in Act 1 and at the finale) are so powerful and moving. He is one of the few phantoms I've seen that actually stand on the angel. Physically, Ben also matches the Phantom's description. Tall (he's 6'2 y'all), slim, dark. Seriously guys, what more do you want?

PS I understand that everyone has different opinions, and I'm not bashing any other actor because most of them are truly amazing, but go compare their voices for important lines (The Mirror, I am there inside, for example), and I can recognize Ben's voice immediately and distinguish it from the others'. And Ramin's voice is pretty common. I'm willing to bet 99% of his fans can't recognize it just from hearing it. And Gerard's voice (hey, he's really hot, and he's a good actor, so that makes up for some of his abysmal singing technique) is only recognizable by how short his notes are (because he can't sustain them) and the lack of vibrato. Anyways, rant over.

15 Anthony Crivello

Anthony Crivello... Hmm... That rings a bell... Oh yeah, the BEST PHANTOM EVER! I saw him live twice and I was blown away. Not like other Phantoms I've seen before... There was something about him that made me feel... I don't know how to put it in words... Emotionally amazed and awesomely cool. Best Phantom ever.

16 Peter Karrie

The best Phantom without a doubt! The only one who brings the Phantom to life! Amazing!

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

The best ever!

17 James Barbour

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 in the past. He's definitely my favorite portrayal of the Phantom to date.

His voice is amazing! I think a dark colored baritone suits the Phantom better than a tenor now. There's so much emotion in his voice and his acting is phenomenal. I saw him with Ali Ewoldt and Jordan Donica and they make a great team. What I also really like was that even though his voice was commanding and powerful, I could still hear Ali or Jordan very well if they were singing together.

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!

18 Gary Mauer

Absolutely spellbinding. I was captivated by him, especially when he sang Music of the Night. He had such a fabulous stage presence.

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

19 Jonathan Roxmouth

He is currently on The Phantom Of The Opera World Tour. He is my first Phantom and I saw him when they toured in the Philippines. I loved his portrayal of the character. I sobbed so much during his performance in the final lair scene. His voice is as magical as the much more famous Phantoms. He is for me underrated, and I believe he deserves to be recognized in the musical industry on Broadway and on West End.

Watched it in Marina Bay Sands Theatre in Singapore. He was really charming and emotional, simply amazing! His voice, expressions, gestures, and emotions draw you in and connect to the Phantom. I cried in the final scene, empathizing with the Phantom's anguish and sadness. To me, he's the perfect Phantom. Hopefully, more people would watch him and feel the same way as I do!

I love his deep voice and his charisma as the Phantom. He portrays the emotions and spirit of the Phantom very well. Beautiful voice and commanding presence.

20 Henk Poort

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

Henk is my No. 1 Phantom. Even years later, he still kills the song with Floor.

Too bad that he didn't perform on West End. 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.

21 Ben Crawford

He did really well. He had a nice baritone voice. It wasn't unbelievably deep, but it also wasn't too high. He also added new life to the role.

Best Phantom we have ever seen. Tremendous voice and acting.

I like his face.

22 Derrick Davis

For me, Mr. Derrick Davis conveyed the tormented soul of the Phantom, his passion for writing beautiful music, and the love/muse relationship with Christine with more authenticity than any of the other many Phantoms I have watched. But Cameron Macintosh's updated version of Sir A. Lloyd Webber's vision certainly showed the deeper side of the relationship, and how Christine was so conflicted between wanting to be the Phantom's Angel of Music or being the love of Raoul. Magnificent indeed! The score of this show is soul touching to its core, and I believe Derrick Davis understood this fact to its core. That's why I'm voting for his performance of The Phantom.

This is the first time my daughter and I saw Phantom of the Opera. It was in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theater. We were completely taken by Derrick Davis's performance. The entire cast was amazing in how they were able to convey emotion through all of the larger-than-life songs. You really felt the things that the characters felt.

Derrick Davis was perhaps the most poignant of all. You could feel all of the emotions roiling in him, and his presence on stage was both forbiddingly fearsome and humanly relatable, even when he was in the worst of his impulses.

But the singing... I've heard some of the other actors perform on the internet. Most of them seem to be tenors. Davis has a deeper and more resonant voice - smoother, and the tremolos weren't overly dramatic or forced. And it really conveys the spirit of the Phantom. He also does a rendition of a Phantom song on YouTube, but it doesn't do his singing justice. When he's singing on stage, you feel so many things, and in the finale, both my daughter and I wanted to cry for the Phantom.

Right now, my daughter is in mourning because there is no cast recording for this specific tour. Maybe it was just an exceptional performance that night, but if you get a chance, see him on tour. It's worth it just for the emotional catharsis.

23 Davis Gaines

Davis will always be my #1 Phantom! All others pale in comparison! His voice was made for this role...a true Angel of Music. I was only in junior high when Phantom was at the Ahmanson in LA, but I was somehow able to get my parents to let me see it about 6 or 7 times, and I'm so grateful to them for that! Davis' voice is life changing! That's why I'm still raving about him over 25 years later.

I saw Gaines in L.A. in '94. He lived up to 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.

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 great with a great role!

24 Brent Barrett

He did AWESOME! Saw him live... Would do anything to see him again!

Certainly, my favorite Phantom!

25 David Thaxton

I saw him in London months ago, and he was amazing. Such a powerful voice.

The best Phantom ever.

He was the first Phantom I saw in London, and he is the best I have ever seen.

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