Tuesday, March 9

May Love Never Dies be "phantom free" tonight!

The curtain goes up tonight at the Adelphi Theatre on Love Never Dies which is the long-awaited £6 million sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera. It has been two years in preparation, and the question is with £9 million already taken in advance ticket sales can it emulate the success of Phantom? This show is  still running in London after 24 years, has been seen by more than 100 million people worldwide and made a jaw-dropping £3.3 billion at the box office.

Love Never Dies has actually been in gestation since 1990 which is four years after Phantom opened with sell-out shows every night and theatres all over the world clamouring to stage it.

The lead up to the opening night has had its up and downs but seems calmer than the lead up to Phantom. I decided to have another look at Behind the Mask which is the Phantom of the Opera documentary that was released few years ago. It shows footage of the run to the previews and opening night of the show with interviews with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cameron Mackintosh and members of the creative team and original cast members as well as rehearsal clips and production hitches/disasters.

There were various hirings and firings with the sacking of the director Hal Prince in favour of Trevor Nunn until Les Miserables bombed when it first opened at the Palace Theatre and he was reinstated.

Richard Stilgoe couldn’t come up with lyrics that either he or Andrew Lloyd Webber were happy with and he was replaced by Charles Hart.

Steve Harley was replaced by Michael Crawford as the Phantom despite six months of preparation and contract negotiation

The original MD was replaced and Michael Reed brought in.

Michael Crawford was referred to as Joan Crawford by the cast and backstage crew and was feared because he was such a perfectionist and would go into a rage as he could not tolerate mistakes.  He would arrive at Her Majesty’s Theatre at lunch time and take six hours to get into costume, make and character for the Phantom. 

We have heard about Sierra Boggess’ virus on the Saturday night before the official preview of “Love Never Dies” began and how brilliant her understudy was.  This is similar to Claire Moore going on with no costumes and rehearsals and being sublime when Sarah Brightman was off with a throat infection.  Both of the leading ladies returned the following day ready to reclaim their roles.

Then there was the remote controlled “phantom” gondola that went out of control whenever a fire engine passed nearby Her Majesty’s Theatre as the radio was on save wavelength as local fire brigade!
I am sure a lot of stories and backstage dramas will come out after the opening of “Love Never Dies” tonight.  I just wish them all well and hope it can at least part follow the success of “Phantom”.

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