Wednesday, March 10

First night Review of Love Never Dies

Having seen an early preview and attended the opening night of Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre (with seats that were paid for!) I can only say that last night’s show bears no resemblance to the one I saw two weeks ago.  And I am sure that in another two weeks it will be a different show again with AL-W tweaking it until it reaches his idea of perfectionism..

The plot in a nutshell is that Love Never Dies moves The Phantom of the Opera forward ten years with the masked hero (played by Ramin Karimloo) still pining for Christine (Sierra Boggess), but now far away from the Paris Opera House and owner of an attraction on New York’s Coney Island called Phantasma,.  He has been joined here by Phantom characters Madame Giry and Meg Giry (played by Liz Robertson and Summer Strallen).

The Phantom anonymously invites Christine to perform at Phantasma and she arrives there with  son Gustave and husband Raoul (Joseph Millsom) who has turned into a debt-ridden, hard drinking gambler. It would seem that more happened between the Phantom and Christine back at the Paris Opera House than we were led to believe as Gustave is the Phantom’s 10 year old son.  So Christine’s dilemma is to sing or not to sing for the Phantom …?  I will not reveal the denouement but the final death scene (I won’t say who dies) is extraordinarily moving.

The score is one of the composer's most seductive. Musically it features a mix of light opera, vaudeville and some rock, but it could do with a few more rousing ensemble numbers (like Masquerade). The opening Coney Island Waltz is similar to the discordant frenzy at the start of Carousel.

A large part of the set backdrop features flowing back projections which are timed to perfection with rhythmic shifts in the music.  In the opening sequence a very bleak and grey Coney Island is brought to life and becomes full of shimmering towers, lakes and big dippers with shadowy carousel horses and flashing Ferris wheels

The show’s weakness is within the book, written by Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton, which lacks narrative tension and the weight to support the superstructure. With a libretto to match the melodies, this will lift Love Never Dies it into the realms of a spectacular “must see” show rather than an enjoyable night at the theatre.

With an opening scheduled in New York later this year I am sure it will get there.

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