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.
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.