Tweetingit: 3*** Andrew Lloyd Webber’s magic touch just about sees this sequel to Phantom through any rough patches. But it’s sometimes difficult to see the join with plainly familiar melodies.
The sequel is generally confined to the big screen where we’re accustomed to roman numerals in the title and resigned to the money printing potential of a follow-up tale. However, in the theatre it’s rarely if ever tried with any degree of success.
Who else but Andrew Lloyd Webber would have the nerve and financial muscle to pull it off? Despite ALW’s protestations Love Never Dies is a sequel to Phantom of the Opera. Negative previews in 2010 forced a re-write before it opened for a year-long run in the West End. However, a planned Broadway transfer was shelved after more mixed reviews. The show decamped to Australia in 2011 where it generally found a warmer reception. This film is a recording of the show staged at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne.
The story picks up ten years after Phantom in 1907. The Phantom (Ben Lewis) is now owner of Phantasma, a Coney Island amusement park. But he yearns for lost love Christine (Anna O’Byrne) who has since married Raoul (Simon Gleeson) and now has a son Gustave (Jack Lyall). Christine arrives in New York to perform for impresario Oscar Hammerstein I at the Manhattan Opera House. The Phantom later confronts Christine and begs her to sing for him and not Hammerstein. Old tensions rise to the surface as old friend from Paris Meg Giry (Sharon Millerchip) is also performing at Phantasma.
A visually stunning presentation is assured but the familiarity of songs sap any real energy from the show. The opening song ‘Til I hear you sing is hugely reminiscent of All I ask of you from Phantom. Scene linking orchestral pieces sound like Our kind of love, a song from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 2000 musical The Beautiful Game. There’s no real harm in stealing your own ideas but a blatant re-tread is deeply annoying. All music is derivative and influenced by earlier composers and with only seven notes in a major scale the computations aren’t infinite. But it just shouldn’t be this easy to spot?
Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics: Glenn Slater and Charles Hart
Book: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton, Frederick Forsyth and Glenn Slater
Directors: Simon Phillips (stage) and Brett Sullivan (film)
Producers: Andrew Lloyd Webber and Clayton Jacobson
The stream has now ended but you can see clips and find out more about future shows here