Musical "The Phantom of the Opera" ended a record-breaking 35-year Broadway run on Sunday when, amid predictions that the show would one day return, teary-eyed cast members took a final bow alongside its original stars.
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber dedicated the final Broadway performance to his son Nicholas, who died of gastric cancer last month.
"In the last few months I don't think... any of us thought that 'The Phantom' would go out quite with the bang it has. And so maybe it may come back, you never know...," Lloyd Webber told a packed audience from the stage after the show.
"It couldn't have gone out with a better performance."
His production, whose closure date was set last year following a sharp drop in ticket sales, is based on a novel by Gaston Leroux.
It was originally directed by Harold Prince and Broadway legends including Michael Crawford, who was the first to play the Phantom, Sarah Brightman and Judy Kaye have taken lead roles.
Set in the 19th century, it tells the story of aspiring opera singer Christine Daae who is taught by the mysterious Phantom to hone her vocal skills. However, things take a dark turn when the Phantom chooses Christine as his muse, and she falls in love with arts benefactor Raoul.
A staple of the Broadway world with nearly 14,000 performances since it debuted there in 1988, the show has won over 70 major awards.
Brightman, who joined cast members on stage on Sunday, described the production as "a very special piece".
"Being there at its inception, it was written with a huge amount of love and passion and understanding of the human soul, actually. So, I think this is why people are so connected to it," she told Reuters on the red carpet.
"I think that people will miss it so much that... it will reopen at some point. That's my instinct about it."