Review: 3*** Love Never Dies – via the Shows Must Go On YouTube @OfficialALW #cultureduringquarantine #stayathome #musicals

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.

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Review: 4**** Funny Girl – The Palace Theatre, Manchester @digitaltheatre and @SkyArts @Sheridansmith1 #staycreative #CultureInQuarantine

Tweetingit: 4* A hugely entertaining production of a Broadway classic based on the life of performer Fanny Brice.

Funny Girl is synonymous with Barbra Streisand and her portrayal of Fanny Brice both on stage and film; the latter won her an Academy Award for Best Actress in a leading role. It turned Streisand into a global superstar and set the bar for all performers who contemplated filling her shoes. It seems barely credible the musical disappeared from the West End stage for nearly 50 years. It wasn’t until 2016 that it returned to London at the Savoy Theatre before embarking on a highly successful national tour.

The story begins with Fanny (Sheridan Smith) wistfully looking back on her life. The ever trusty flashback clicks into action, and we are back in Vaudeville with a teenage Fanny trying to prove herself. Her mother (Rachel Izen) and friend Mrs Strakosh (Myra Sands) wonder if Fanny is too plain to make it as a stage performer. However, Fanny is undaunted and succeeds with the help of dancer Eddie Ryan (Joshua Lay). She makes a name for herself as a performer and meets handsome entrepreneur Nick Arnstein (Darius Campbell). They inevitably fall in love as the trials and tribulations of their relationship are carefully plotted.

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