Love Never Dies

Adelphi Theatre, London
Booking to 12 March 2011
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Andrew Lloyd Webber presents his greatly anticipated sequel to The Phantom of the Opera – LOVE NEVER DIES, starring Ramin Karimloo, David Thaxton and Celia Graham.

Ten years after the mysterious disappearance of The Phantom from the Paris Opera House, Christine Daae accepts an offer to come to America and perform at New York’s fabulous new playground of the world – Coney Island. Christine arrives in New York with her husband Raoul and their son Gustave. She soon discovers the identity of the anonymous impresario who has lured her from France to sing.

LOVE NEVER DIES is a rollercoaster ride of obsession and intrigue… in which music and memory can play cruel tricks… and The Phantom sets out to prove that, indeed, LOVE NEVER DIES.

Love Never Dies stars Ramin Karimloo, David Thaxton and Celia Graham.

Love Never Dies runs from 22 February 2010 until 12 March 2011 at the Adelphi Theatre, London.

Show Information

Performance dates
Booking to 12 March 2011

Venue Information

Adelphi Theatre, Strand, London, WC2E 7NA
Nearest Tube or Train: Covent Garden (Piccadilly line), Charing Cross (Northern line, Bakerloo line), Embankment (Northern line, Bakerloo line, District line, Circle line)
Nearest Buses: 6, 9, 11,13, 15, 23, 77A, 91, 139, 176

News about Love Never Dies
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Love Never Dies to close at the Adelphi Theatre
Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber's multi-million pound sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, has announced its closure in the West End. Rumours have circulated for some time that the show, which is produced by Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group and is housed in one of the company's theatres, jointly owned with the Nederlanders, was losing a significant amount of money and would struggle to continue unless it saw a sharp rise in box-office receipts. The National Theatre's hit new show One Man, Two Guvnors starring Gavin and Stacey's James Corden will move in to the venue from mid-November 2011. It is unclear whether Love Never Dies will continue with its international roll-out, including a production in Toronto and a Broadway opening. The show did open last month in Melbourne to fair reviews, with the Herald Sun giving the show four stars but saying that, "While Love Never Dies sets a visual design standard that will be difficult to surpass, it is disappointing that the narrative and music fail to reach the same lofty heights". Australian National newspaper The Age said that, "An inspired, often ravishing production for sure, though of a sequel that doesn't make a strong enough musical or narrative argument for its own existence." Lloyd Webber wanted to the show to be completely revisited for the Melbourne opening, recruiting New Zealand director Simon Phillips to work on the show. The hope was that a good production in Melbourne could act as the template for future international productions. Love Never Dies got off to a decidedly shaky start in the UK, with creative differences between the director Jack O'Brien and Lord Lloyd Webber, prompting the composer to close the show for four days in November 2010 to allow friend and producer Bill Kenwright to make a number of changes. It had been rumoured that the show would close again for two weeks in September 2011, when the current cast was to change, to incorporate some of the changes made by Simon Phillips from the Melbourne production. In May, Baz Bamigboye reported in the Daily Mail that Really Useful Group were struggling with £4 million loses from the show despite significant cost cutting. Other shows that had been thought to be lining up for the Adelphi included a Robert Lindsay-led revival of Camelot directed by David Leveaux. LINKS SPECIAL OFFER: Book tickets to Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre in London More Love Never Dies news RUMOUR CHECK-LIST Show: Love Never Dies Theatre: Adelphi Theatre Date closing: 27 August 2011 Stars: Ramin Karimloo, Celia Graham, David Thaxton Composer: Andrew Lloyd Webber Director: Jack O’Brien / Bill Kenwright Source: Daily Mail (17/06/11)
Love Never Dies loses out at Oliviers
Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to The Phantom of the Opera  misses out at Olivier Awards [caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess, both nominated for Love Never Dies"][/caption] This year's Olivier Awards nominations were led by Andrew Lloyd Webber’s big new show Love Never Dies, securing 7 nominations including Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical for Ramin Karimloo and Best Actress in a Musical for Sierra Boggess. However, Sunday's awards at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane proved to be a disappointing night for Lord Lloyd Webber as the show was pipped to the post in all nomination categories. Ramin Karimloo, who plays the role of the Phantom said last night that it was a "great evening" but a "shame" that the show didn't win. Sierra Bogges, who played Christine in the show, flies out of the UK this morning to start rehearsals for a new production of Master Class on Broadway alongside Tyne Daly. Celia Graham has taken over the role of Christine. At the awards last night, Ramin Karimloo sang Til I Hear You Sing from Love Never Dies, and John Owen-Jones and Sierra Boggess performed The Phantom of the Opera. In better news for Love Never Dies, its new star David Thaxton, who joined the cast earlier this month to play Raoul, won a Best Actor in a Musical award for his performance in Passion at the Donmar Warehouse. Organised by the Society of London Theatre, the awards are the most popular and important in the British theatre calendar. This year they enjoyed an overhaul, with Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton hosting, MasterCard sponsoring the event and live broadcast by the BBC. LINKS Love Never Dies Special offer: Save £27.50 on tickets Olivier Awards – list of winners Olivier Awards microsite Olivier Awards - news
Love Never Dies confirms cast change
Andrew Lloyd Webber confirms cast change for 7 March: Ramin Karimloo to stay as Phantom, David Thaxton joins as Raoul [caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="David Thaxton to join the cast of Love Never Dies"][/caption] Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre in London has confirmed that its cast will change on 7 March, with Sierra Boggess, who plays Christine, and Summer Strallen as Meg, both leaving the show. They will be replaced by Celia Graham as Christine, who is currently in the ensemble of the show and understudies Sierra in the role, and Haley Flaherty, who recently played Janet in the UK tour of The Rocky Horror Show, as Meg,. Ramin Karimloo, who originated the role of the Phantom in the new show, will stay on in the musical, to be joined by David Thaxton, who will replace Joseph Millson in the part of Raoul. Other new cast members include Tracey Penn as Fleck and Charles Brunton as Gangle. Liz Roberton and Adam Pearce will continue in the show. Love Never Dies was recently nominated for seven Olivier Awards, including best new musical, Ramin for best actor in a musical and Sierra Boggess for best actress in a musical. Love Never Dies also did well at Sunday's Whatsonstage Awards, with Ramin Karimloo wining best actor in a musical and Joseph Millson winning best supporting actor in a musical. David Thaxton joins the cast after his critical success last year in Passion at the Donmar Warehouse, alongside Elena Roger. He has also been nominated for a best actor in a musical Olivier Award for his part in Passion. Andrew Lloyd Webber said that, “I’m absolutely thrilled that Love Never Dies has finally been recognised in this way." The initial criticism for Love Never Dies faced by Lloyd Webber from a group of loyal Phantom of the Opera fans was also referenced by the compsoer, who thanked "our loyal ‘Phans’, who have been so supportive of the show since it opened." He also paid tribute to the cast and company who, "have worked so hard throughout and have embraced the changes to the show, which have proved so successful." Since opening Love Never Dies, Lloyd-Webber has brought in Bill Kenwright to make a number of changes to director Jack O'Brien's original staging, and has tweaked some of the book and songs. Sierra Boggess will leave Love Never Dies and go to Broadway, to star alongside Tyne Daly in a new production of Terence McNally’s play Master Class about the great opera diva Maria Callas. Summer Strallen will star in a new production of classic movie musical Top Hat with Tom Chambers. Joseph Millson will star in the National's new production of Clifford Odets's Rocket to the Moon, directed by Angus Jackson, alongside Keeley Hawes. Andrew Lloyd Webber's new production of The Wizard of Oz is currently previewing at the London Palladium starring Danielle Hope, Michael Crawford and Hannah Waddingham. The show opens on 1 March. LINKS Books tickets to Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre
New Casting Announced For “Love Never Dies” Recently Nominated In 7 Major Categories For The 2011 Laurence Olivier Awards Now Winner Of Two 2011 Whatsonstage.Com Awards
Hot on the heels of garnering 7 major nominations for the 2011 Laurence Oliver Awards, with two wins at the 2011 awards, and following the show’s recent redirection and ensuing critical acclaim, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “LOVE NEVER DIES” today announces new casting. Ramin Karimloo, nominated for Best Actor in a Musical Olivier, will continue to star as ‘The Phantom’, with Tam Mutu as his alternate. Celia Graham will take over the role of ‘Christine’ from Sierra Boggess, nominated for Best Actress in a Musical. Liz Robertson will continue to star as ‘Madame Giry’, and Haley Flaherty will join to star as ‘Meg Giry’. David Thaxton, also nominated the Best Actor in a Musical for his recent role in ‘Passion’ at the Donmar Warehouse will star as ‘Raoul’. Adam Pearce will continue to play ‘Squelch’ and Tracey Penn will join as ‘Fleck’ and Charles Brunton as ‘Gangle’, with Jack Costello, Daniel Dowling and Harry Polden sharing the role of ‘Gustave’. The company also includes Nick Blair, Dale Branston, Abigail Brodie, Kieran Brown, Nick Crossley, Natalie Edmunds, Chris Gage, Lucy Van Gasse, Mirela Golinska, Daniel Gourlay, Simon Ray Harvey, Grace Holdstock, Lucinda Lawrence, Vanessa Leagh-Hicks, Louisa Lydell, Lisa Mathieson, David McMullan, Colette Morrow, Ashley Nottingham, Mira Ormala, Rae Piper, Alexa-Jayne Robinson, Andrew Rothwell, Simon Storey, Tim Walton and Zara Warren. The winners of the 2011 Awards were announced at the Awards Concert in the West End on Sunday 20 February. Ramin Karimloo won Best Actor in a Musical, and Joseph Millson won Best Supporting Actor in a Musical. “LOVE NEVER DIES” has also gained Olivier Award nominations in the following categories: Best Performance in a Supporting Role for Summer Strallen, Best Lighting Design for Paul Constable, Best Set Design and Best Costume Design for Bob Crowley. Andrew Lloyd Webber said, “I’m absolutely thrilled that “LOVE NEVER DIES” has finally been recognised in this way. I would like to pay tribute to our wonderful company, who have worked so hard throughout and have embraced the changes to the show, which have proved so successful. I’d also like to thank our loyal ‘Phans’, who have been so supportive of the show since it opened. I’m particularly happy about the timing of this announcement, given that my new show, “THE WIZARD OF OZ”, has just started previews.” “LOVE NEVER DIES” continues the story of ‘The Phantom’, who has moved from his lair in the Paris Opera House to haunt the fairgrounds of Coney Island, far across the Atlantic. Set ten years after the mysterious disappearance of ‘The Phantom’ from Paris, this show is a rollercoaster ride of obsession and which music and memory can play cruel tricks...and ‘The Phantom’ sets out to prove that, indeed, “LOVE NEVER DIES”. ADELPHI THEATRE. “LOVE NEVER DIES” is now booking until January 2012. The first performance of the new company will be on Monday 7 March at the Adelphi Theatre. The 2011 Laurence Olivier Awards, sponsored by MasterCard, will take place on Sunday 13 March at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. Release issued by: Peter Thompson Associates LINKS Books tickets to Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre
Baz and Love: The saga continues
I feel bad for Baz Bamigboye, the Daily Mail's showbiz guru. He loved Loved Never Dies and feels as disappointed and betrayed as a scorned lover (see 30 July: Baz falls out of love with Love). We've been following the highs and lows (mostly lows) and this week's Daily Mail is yet further tales of LND woe. It somewhat reminds us of Private Eye's Glenda Slag column: Love Never Dies, it's the greatest musical we have ever heard, it deserves to win every award known to showbiz, its love will never die (geddit?!). Love Never Dies, what a pile of poo, the love is dead as a door-nail (geddit?!!). He wants to love it, and wants to love Andrew Lloyd Webber, but would ruin his significant street cred if he loved the show. A rock and a hard place for poor Baz. Our favourite line in his gut-wrenching piece relates to the forthcoming changes to the show (see 22 October: Love Never Dies but it does take rests) by theatre impresario Bill Kenwright; "No disrespect to Bill Kenwright, but no A-list director of international repute would touch Love Never Dies after O’Brien’s departure." So there! Baz says that his real beef is with the fact that no good can come out of an artist (Andrew Lloyd Webber) turning themselves into a corporation (Really Useful Group) and that's what's done it in for the show. However, said corporation has done pretty well so far, as has that other big beast Cameron Mackintosh Limited, which is as slick a money-making company as you could find. The problems lie deeper but are not beyond rescue. We await the changes to the production with some interest.
Love never dies but does take rests
Are Andrew Lloyd Webber and Bill Kenwright best buddies or what? It's like a true West End bro-mance. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Andrew Lloyd Webber and Bill Kenwright with Sophie Evans"][/caption] Bill and Andy have been commercial partners for a while now, with Bill producing national tours of Andrew's shows, notably Evita and Joseph - which has made millions for the two men. Plus Bill is helping Andrew out producing his next biggie, The Wizard of Oz at the London Palladium next February, starring Danielle Hope. Their announcement that Sophie Evans will be Dorothy First Reserve for the show at Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff in July, was a nice two-hander that demonstrated how close the two rivals have become (see photo). And now we hear that Bill is assisting the Lord in doing a bit of light tinkering with Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre. Most who've seen the show seem to enjoy it, but Andrew has been unhappy since the opening and his creative team - Hairspray's Jack O’Brien and Jerry Mitchell - have fled back to Broadway to work on Catch Me If You Can (quite apt!) So ALW has pressed on with some changes of his own - including some revised lyrics by Phantom lyricist Charles Hart, Ben Elton has been involved in adding his thoughts, and Bill is going to have a stab at making the ending more satisfying. The show will take a four day break from 22 November for the changes to take place. Will the critics be invited to review the show all over again we ask? SPECIAL OFFER: Save on tickets to Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre in London
Baz falls out of love with Love
The UK's leading entertainment correspondent, Baz Bamigboye from the Daily Mail newspaper, has finally broken ranks and ranted his frustration at Andrew Lloyd Webber's new Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies. [caption id="" align="alignright" width="240"] Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre[/caption] After years of enthusiasm for the project in his weekly Daily Mail column, Baz has had enough, writing that, "it’s as if the new Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, which boasts his most beautiful score, has become an abandoned child". In a rare ALW bashing, he also berates the composer for not sorting out the show before the opening, "[he] should have sat down with his team and changed the show, including trimming his score". Even the marketing people get a good going over, with Dewynters' advertising campaign for the show cited as "a shambles". This seems a bit unfair: if it was a hit show then the advertising campaign would be neither here nor there. But marketing and PR have become a theme of this show's progress in the West End. If a big show is not entirely working after opening night, the dream of any producer is to be able to "fix it". But that's not usually an option for producers spending bags of money a night on an expensive show, especially given that the creative team will have all disbanded and moved on to other projects. And so the show keeps on going as long as there's an audience, and then it's done. For Andrew Lloyd Webber - and Cameron Mackintosh when he produced Martin Guerre back in 1996 - money is no object and so the fixing begins. Martin Guerre was completely reworked after it opened, even going dark and reopening - which is what Andrew Lloyd Webber has muted as an option for his show. The mistake here has been to make any public reference to problems with Love Never Dies. Sure continue to tinker a bit behind-the-scenes, but the show is what it is. As soon as that opening night is done, we only want to hear positive things from the producers and the creative team. No bitching, no moaning, no angst from Andrew Lloyd Webber about how he's not happy. The lessons here are all going to be about how to manage theatre PR in a brave new world, from bloggers blogging before the show even opens to a composer/producer who's bigger than the show itself.
Love Never Dies – Adelphi Theatre – Review
In an attempt to regain the glory he lost with such shows as Whistle Down the Wind, The Beautiful Game and The Woman in White – and believing in the maxim, if at first you succeed, try again – Andrew Lloyd Webber returns to the source of his biggest hit, The Phantom of the Opera. But someone should have told him that sequels rarely work and Love Never Dies, which was 20 years in the making, is no exception. A quartet of writers – Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton, Glenn Slater and Frederick Forsyth collectively prove that four heads are not better than one – especially when the one is Gaston LeRoux’s, the creator of the enduring novel without which, etc. What LeRoux created was the kind of fail-safe plot that claws into the imagination and refuses to let go. What Messrs Lloyd Webber and Co. have wrought, are six characters in search – not of an author, they've got enough of those – but a workable story-line  that will move, engage and convince an audience. In the absence of any such thing, we're left with a tepid situation (it really can't be called a plot) in which, ten years after the events depicted in Phantom, soprano Christine Daae, her now impecunious hubbie Raoul and their ten year-old son Gustav, travel from Paris to New York at the request of a certain Mr Y who makes them a financial offer they cannot refuse. All Christine has to do is sing for him in a show he produces at Coney Island. What she doesn't realise until her arrival in New York is that Mr Y is none other than the erstwhile Phantom of the Paris Opera, and, because, umm, love never dies, he is still besotted with her. Oh, there's a mini sub-plot of sorts involving ex-ballet mistress Madame Giry and her jealous dancer daughter Meg, neither of whom are a barrel of laughs. But then nothing in this musical is. Gustav turns out to be the Phantom's son, though why and how Christine allowed him that brief moment of passion ten years earlier, is never explained. Nor are we given any reason why Raoul, who, if memory serves, had pots of money in Phantom, is now down on his uppers. More damagingly, it is never explained why the Phantom of the original, a psychopathic killer who indulged in some pretty anti-social behaviour, like dumping chandeliers on unsuspecting paying customers in the stalls, should become almost as wealthy as Lord Lloyd Webber and have morphed into a harmless eccentric with a passion for theatrical gadgets. Was he lobotomised? We need to be told. And why, in the show's preposterously operatic final scene (spoiler alert to follow) in which Christine is shot by the jealous Meg, does young Gustav seek solace in the arms of the Phantom, a stranger with a hideous facial scar he has only just learned is his real father? Wouldn't he have rushed to his dying mother's side to comfort her? Or seek out Raoul, who has done a runner on his family? With so many questions to ask, and, frankly, with so little interest in the answers, all that's left to enjoy is the music. Ah, the music. Well, in common with most of Lloyd Webber's shows, there are, to be sure, a couple of good tunes. And if they sound familiar, it's because they are. I thought I detected a hint of Noel Coward's A Room With A View in the Coney Island Waltz but in the main, the most blatant plagiarism is the composer stealing (or, to be more charitable, recycling) from himself. The ubiquitous title song – and the best in the show – has a whiff of Adolph Deutsch's theme tune from Billy Wilder's The Apartment (the first four notes are identical), plus an essence of Puccini, without whose influence no ALW score would be complete. The song, as everyone must know by now, was first heard in The Beautiful Game, which, though a financial failure, ran quite a long time. I know composers re-use material from shows that either closed in tryouts or within a week of opening. But to use as a title number a song from a fairly high-profile show that had a respectable run strikes me as unacceptable. And lazy. Much of the rest of the score is characterised by lush, Lloyd Webber crescendi and the promise of soaring unforgettable melodies that never quite materialise. Though the pervading musical ambience, with its duets, trios and quartets, rarely strays very far from operatic conventions, it also contains the obligatory nod in the direction of old-fashioned Broadway musical comedy (Heaven by the Sea). A real mish-mash of styles. There's not much to be said for Glenn Slater's lyrics. Apart from the occasional infelicity, like rhyming ‘bother’ with ‘father’, the rhymes are generally clean and efficiently well-turned. Nothing, though, to give Stephen Sondheim a sleepless night. The cast, with the exception of Sierra Boggess as Christine, is no better than its material. Ms Boggess's ‘eleven o'clock’ title number is the evening's only genuinely deserved show-stopper and she delivers it with spine-tingling conviction. There's a real presence on stage whenever she appears – which, alas, cannot be said of Ramin Karimloo's Phantom. His voice is fine, but where's the personality? The charisma? If ever a show relied on its leading man to go beyond the call of duty and conjure magic where none exists, this is it. Liz Robertson and Summer Strallen, always assets in whatever musical they appear, are more or less lost in the confusion of the first act (things improve marginally in the second) and one's heart goes out to them, as it does to the usually excellent Joseph Millson as Raoul. The dashing hero of Phantom of the Opera is here reduced to an alcoholic loser with as little flesh and blood on him as a transparent projection on a scrim. Call it the show's most thankless Raoul. Though Jack O'Brien's direction is more assured in the show's less cluttered second half, he never manages to make us care about anything that's happening; and as for Jerry Mitchell's choreography, I can only ask ‘What choreography?’ Did I miss something? Which leaves Bob Crowley's sets and costumes and Jon Driscoll's projection designs. They're by far the best things in an evening that thinks it’s an opera but actually, is just another poor musical. I left the theatre humming the proverbial scenery – oh, and the first four notes of The Apartment. CLIVE HIRSCHHORN. Courtesy of This Is London. Love Never Dies - round-up of press reviews
Love Never Dies – Adelphi Theatre – Reviews Round-up
We've had the bitter blogs, the Lord's rebukes and hysterical Phans. We've had the angst over reviewing before the opening night, the power of bloggers to bring down a show, the puns, the clogged forums and the slightly desperate clamour of the press to seek out a good old-fashioned theatrical disaster story. And now, following tonight's glittering first night at the Adelphi Theatre, the national newspaper critics give us their thoughts on Andrew Lloyd-Webber's latest musical, Love Never Dies. STAR RATINGS The Telegraph ★★★★ The Guardian ★★★ Bloomberg ★★★ The Independent ★★★★★ The Times ★★ OPENING THOUGHTS GU: There is much to enjoy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical.... the problems lie within the book, chiefly credited to Lloyd Webber himself and Ben Elton, which lacks the weight to support the imaginative superstructure. IN: [The] mix of the heart-stopping and the stomach-lurching (a true kinaesthetic experience) characterises some of the best sequences in Love Never Dies, TE: What I have no doubt about whatever is that this is Lloyd Webber’s finest show since the original Phantom, with a score blessed with superbly haunting melodies and a yearning romanticism that sent shivers racing down my spine. DM: Love may never die but West End shows will come perilously close to disaster unless they have some oompf and bongo — and preferably a decent tune — in the first 15 minutes. Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to Phantom Of The Opera, is as slow to motor as a lawnmower at spring’s first cut. TI: Oh, how time and a dismally implausible plot have altered him [the Phantom] and his life. VA: The trouble with "Love Never Dies" is that while a couple of melodies deliver, the show doesn't. Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to "The Phantom of the Opera" wants to be a tragic romance, but it's simply torpid. Only a radical rewrite will give it even the remotest chance of emulating its predecessor. ON THE CREATIVES TE: [Jack O’Brien’s production] seems entirely in tune with Lloyd Webber’s vision... Bob Crowley’s designs, though not as opulent as those of Maria Björnson in the original, and lacking the breathtaking panache of the collapsing chandelier and the candlelit boat-trip across the underground lake, are nevertheless constantly inventive, including clever use of video, a riot of writhing art nouveau, and splendidly creepy animated models in the phantom’s eyrie. IN: What is in no doubt is the technical excellence of Jack O'Brien's seamlessly fluent, sumptuous (and sometimes subtle) production... Bob Crowley's design and Jack O'Brien's direction have a beautiful kaleidoscopic fluidity. GU: While offering a spectacular eyeful, O'Brien's production is also unafraid of simplicity: the staging of the climactic number, with Christine advancing down to the shell-shaped footlights, could hardly be more direct... Crowley's designs offer a beguiling mix of new technology and art nouveau... Paule Constable's lighting adds to the show's visual appeal: she lends a Hopper-like gloom to a sub-pier bar and gives a broadwalk vista a Renoiresque glow. TI: Visually, there’s nothing to match the marvels that Maria Bjornson created with murk, candles and vast curtains in the original Phantom, but Bob Crowley successfully evokes much of Phantasma, helped by projections of spooky horses on carousels. ON RAMIN & SIERRA IN: Ramin Karimloo may not be a physically imposing enough presence as the Phantom, but his marvellously supple voice can run the gamut from a seductive guttural whisper to the full blare of frustrated passion. Looking gorgeous in a range of stylish period-outfits, Sierra Boggess's Christine boasts a voice that can pool and purl quietly and then knock you dead with her towering rendition of the climactic title number. TE: Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess sing superbly as the Phantom and Christine, with a real spark between them. Boggess is especially fine in the soaring title song, and Karimloo deftly combines menace and vulnerability throughout. Meanwhile Joseph Millson memorably captures the self-destructive Raoul. GU: From my distant seat in row O, the performances seemed fine. Ramin Karimloo's Phantom may not have the tragic quality of Michael Crawford's prototype but that is hardly his fault: the character is now more a mildly disabled Kane (of the Wellesian variety) than a social pariah. Sierra Boggess also displays a strong, vibrant soprano as Christine. Summer Strallen as the vengeful Meg and Liz Robertsan as her creepy, Mrs Danvers-like mum are both strongly defined. DM: Sierra Boggess, as Christine, is the production’s great joy — its show saver. She has a soprano of porcelain precision and her scene 4 duet with 10-year-old Gustave (excellent Harry Child), brushed by harp, is the first of three quick songs which rescue the evening. TI: Even though Sierra Boggess’s sweet but never sickly Christine gets a bit piercing when her high-note flutterings hit the vocal stratosphere, it also pleases the ear, as do several other numbers — though usually with a major-key lilt, never with the danger and dissonance that the Phantom tale would seem to demand. Beside, say, the Elephant Man, Karimloo’s urbane, melodic, not-so-sinister Phantom might be Cary Grant. THE MUSIC GU: The score is one of the composer's most seductive... At his very best – as in Joseph, Jeeves, The Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard – Lloyd Webber's melodic inventiveness matches the material; here you have a welter of great tunes in search of a strong story. But at least the American setting gives Lloyd Webber the chance to explore a variety of musical idioms. IN: the splendour of the orchestra which pours forth Lloyd Webber's dark-hued, yearning melodies as if its life depended on them. TE: The music is a constant pleasure, lavishly orchestrated and ranging from deliciously pert vaudeville numbers to those thrillingly romantic love songs, by way of an eerie dissonant waltz and a sudden unexpected blast of full-on prog-rock. DM: The Entr’acte asserts Lloyd Webber at his most soupily sumptuous and the second half is far better. His music crests in a breaking chord when Christine is staring into her dressing-room mirror, trying to decide between her loves. ON THE BLOGGERS GU: I should say that I have no truck with those ghoulish groupies who've seen The Phantom of the Opera 852 times and regard any sequel as equivalent to painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa. No masterpiece has been besmirched TE: I have received furious emails from fans or, as they style themselves, “Phans” of the original Phantom of the Opera, still running in the West End more than 23 years after it first opened, telling me that the new piece is a travesty. And there is no doubt that Love Never Dies seems like a relic of another age. Gloomy-doomy, largely through-sung musicals like this have in recent years been superseded in public affection by a welcome return to musical comedy in such shows as Hairspray, Sister Act and the latest hit, Legally Blonde. In the midst of a recession, will audiences fork out top dollar for two-and-a half hours of dark Gothic imaginings, seething passion, and in the final scene, sudden violent death? TI: The blogosphere has been teeming with views of Lloyd Webber’s long-awaited Phantom II. For some, Love Never Dies is “Paint Never Dries”, and for others the composer is at his musical best. I tend to agree with both factions. ON THE BOOK GU: What the show lacks, in a nutshell, is narrative tension. For Christine, having discovered her employer's true identity, the big question is "to sing or not to sing?". The result is a foregone conclusion. TE: It seems extraordinary that it should have taken four hands to write the not especially complex book, among them Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton, and Frederick Forsyth, while Glenn Slater’s lyrics strike me as serviceable rather than inspired. DM: That core justification — the romantic gubbins — is badly lacking. In the end you conclude that she simply seeks out suffering to improve her art. TI: So where’s the tension in Ben Elton and Lloyd Webber’s book? That’s not helped by a narrative that might have been part-written by Ibsen’s ghost, there’s so much earnest poring over the past. But mainly it comes from Christine’s one-time friend Meg (Summer Strallen) who has also moved to Coney Island and aims to be the belle of all this balls. ON ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER IN: In a sense, Lloyd Webber has become hoist by his own petard. Having over-petted the public, he is now being badly mauled by a section of it – the Phantom fanatics who feel that they own the original more than he does. On both counts (casting and the right to do what he likes with his own material), Lloyd Webber has, for once, the moral high ground here. TE: There is something personal about Lloyd Webber’s relationship with the Phantom, as if in the character of the tortured and deformed composer he is confronting something of his own inner darkness. The character might just be a terrifying self-portrait, hanging in the attic of his imagination. IN: It's revealing that Andrew Lloyd Webber, who has cast leading roles in his most recent ventures by public vote on reality TV talent show, has not allowed the public anywhere near his casting decisions for Love Never Dies. This rather exposes how low-risk those TV experiments have been, geared as they have been to fairly safe properties such as The Sound of Music and Oliver!. FINAL THOUGHTS IN: The ending (which I won't give away) feels phoney in the unconvincing completeness of its resolution. It makes what has preceded it abruptly feel a good deal less than the sum of its parts and cries out for more ambiguity. In short, it should be "phixed". GU: The show has much to commend it and the staging is a constant source of iridescent pleasure. But, as one of the lyrics reminds us, "diamonds never sparkle bright unless they are set just right". Although Lloyd Webber's score is full of gems, in the end a musical is only as good as its book. With a libretto to match the melodies, this might have been a stunner rather than simply a good night out. TE: The show may ultimately prove too strange, too dark, too tormented to become a massive popular hit, but I suspect its creepy allure will linger potently in the memory when frothier shows have been long forgotten. DM: The night ends with a death scene so long that it may only reignite the euthanasia debate... So: a hit? Not quite. It is too much an also-ran to the prequel, and its opening is too stodgy. But if it is a miss, it is — like Christine — a noble miss, noble because Lloyd Webber’s increasingly operatic music tries to lift us to a higher plane. TI: Where’s the menace, the horror, the psychological darkness? For that I recommend a trip to Her Majesty’s, not the Adelphi. VA: At the moment, watching the sequel only makes you appreciate the achievement of the original. KEY TO CRITICS: TE: The Telegraph – Charles Spencer DM: Daily Mail – Quentin Letts GU: The Guardian – Michael Billington BL: Bloomberg – Warwick Thompson IN: The Independent – Paul Taylor TI: The Times – Benedict Nightingale VA: Variety - David Benedict Other reviews: Ben Brantley, The New York Times

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