This was a pose invented by accident, so to speak. During the first rehearsals in London Michael Crawford’s wig was less oily and slick compared to later wigs. When he removed the fedora during the title song cadenza, his wig acted up and he did an in-character move to smooth it out.
Gillian Lynne, original choreographer, was watching the rehearsals. She swooned when she saw how sensual the wig smoothing pose looked, and told Michael Crawford to do it again (and again). And so the wig slicking became a part of the choreography, done by every Phantom to come.
Here’s some legendary photos of it!
1. Anthony Crivello, Las Vegas. 2. Jonathan Roxmouth, Johannesburg. 3. John Owen-Jones, West End. 4. Dave Willetts, Edinburgh/UK tour. 5. Michael Craeford, West End* 6. Brad Little, Singapore/World Tour. 7. Mark McKerracher, Manchester/UK tour. 8. John Cudia, US tour. 9. Scott Davies, West End.
( * Note also how short his pants and jacket sleeves are. He and designer Maria Bjørnson wanted it this way, so arm and leg movements would be emphasized)