Theatre Review: “Love Never Dies” @ Adelphi Theatre, London 06/26/10

Musical

Love Never Dies is a triumph!

From the first time the curtain raises onto the eerie vacant, never-ending Coney Island boardwalk to the Phantom’s lair, The Aerie, the incredible set design by Bob Crowley achieves epic greatness. The way he infuses the video clips over the scrim during the scene changes, Love Never Dies graces the edge of cinema while still being completely theatrical. In the same fashion of The Phantom of the Opera, Crowley was able to create a world within a world (real world vs. the Phantom’s world) that doesn’t overdo the bursting melodramatic sentiment of the story and music. It’s seamless and simply stunning.

The story based off of the novella, The Phantom of Manhattan, seems hokey and cheesy and yet it isn’t. It’s definitely melodramatic, but we all knew that it was going to be when we bought our tickets. An anonymous benefactor (the Phantom) invites Christine to Coney Island to perform a new aria, “Love Never Dies” at Phantasma. She agrees and takes Raoul, her husband and her child, Gustave (the only new principal character introduced in Love Never Dies) to Coney Island. Once there, she finds out that it was the Phantom that invited her and once again, she’s overtaken by his music. Also, Gustave is curiously interested in the Phantom’s lair and it becomes obvious in “The Beauty Underneath” (one of my favorite numbers of the night) that Gustave is really the Phantom’s child. And, from there, Raoul, Meg Giry and Madame Giry work through depression, jealousy and resentment, while Christine is rediscovering her feelings for the Phantom.

Andrew Lloyd Weber’s music and Glenn Slater’s lyrics were perfectly crafted to evoke the exact moods of the story. From the boisterous company number, “Heaven by the Sea” introducing Coney Island to the beautiful yearning of “Til I Hear You Sing” sung by the Phantom (Ramin Karimloo) to the electric duet between Gustave and Phantom in “The Beauty Underneath”, there never was a dull moment in the score. It absolutely came to a climax when Christine (Sierra Boggess) sang her beautiful heart-felt aria, “Love Never Dies” at the end of Act 2. Most of the evening I had chills – a complete rarity. Both Karmiloo and Boggess were fantastic throughout the entire night – every note and glance perfected. Gustave (there are seven of them) was extraordinary for such a young performer!

What surprised me the most was the fact I never was bored. The story intrigued me so much that I was on the edge of my seat most of the evening. I was swept away by the lush orchestral arrangements and theatricality of the production. Everything seemed to fit so well together. I’m sure there have been major and minor revisions since starting previews back in February. The current product is a beautiful production that should not be missed.

I love the fact that Andrew Lloyd Weber lets us fall in love with Christine and the Phantom all over again in a way that doesn’t tarnish the original. Love Never Dies triumphs over bad press, the “musical sequel” land of doom (like Grease 2 and Annie 2) and the very vocal naysayers (Love Should Die) with such grace that I’m actually embarrassed for them. Broadway should open their arms to Love Never Dies and embrace it!

If you loved Phantom of the Opera, I promise you’ll fall in love all over again with Love Never Dies.

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10 thoughts on “Theatre Review: “Love Never Dies” @ Adelphi Theatre, London 06/26/10

  1. Wow, yours is literally the only positive report I’ve read on the show. Even a friend who is a die hard ALW fan absolutely hated Love Never Dies. Interesting to see a different perspective.

  2. I’m glad you had a good time. The music and talented performers are quite good, but

    1. the story *is* hokey and cheesy

    2.You think that ALW lets us “fall in love with Christine and the Phantom all over again in a way that doesn’t tarnish the original.”

    I think that the story and characters DO tarnish the original. Some of the characters like Raoul are distorted, the Phantom no longer has learned anything from the events of Phantom of the Opera and goes back to being his selfish old self (with sad results), and Christine lost the backbone she developed in the original show and is back to being a clueless, manipulated pawn. If I get to see the original show again, I’ll have a hard time putting out of my mind what the characters have become in the sequel.
    3. I think you are the only reviewer of the show who thinks Glenn Slater’s lyrics are anything more than serviceable, and a lot, professional and amateur, think that many of them are much worse than that.

  3. Totally agree with Sally. LND actually makes the relationships and themes in the original meaningless. The sequel takes all the heart out of All I Ask of You and makes it completely meaningless. The Phantom is now in no way threatening, in fact, he’s pretty much adored by all and his disfigurement (a major plot element in the original) means nothing now.

    I do think there are a couple of really nice tunes (some lifted directly from ALW’s previous work…), but I admit I’m pretty surprised you liked it this much.

  4. I think LND is a brilliant production. Every numbers are well written. Not to mention the performers have intense chemistry. It is indeed a great cast. Hope those in Broadway and Australia would be as good as the original London cast.

  5. I’m sorry…”doesn’t tarnish the original”?!?! It COMPLETELY negates the original! We’ve had this story – this love triangle – before and more effectively in the original show.

    The characters here are completely unrecognizable from the original and completely unlikable. Raoul and the Phantom USE Christine as a pawn, and Christine walks around with NO backbone and lets things HAPPEN to her. How can you possibly think the character assassinations in LND allow us to “fall in love with the Phantom and Christine all over again”? I don’t even LIKE these characters, forget falling in love with them! If you take this story and change the names and take away the Phantom references, you simply have a story about a SEVERELY dysfunctional and abusive relationship. I could go on (and have) but, I’ll leave it at that.

    The music is lovely and deserves a better lyricist – and better show. Same with the performers who are top notch and wasted in this show.

  6. Read this in Jan 2011 after you tweeted you didn’t like changes recently made. I absolutely detested this musical which I saw in London in May 2010. I know a few people who are such die-hard fans of POTO that they accepted it as a part of the epic but most felt as I did–that it ruined the original and that it was cheap and tawdry in its setting. I was impressed by the staging but felt that I was seeing a technology show not musical theatre. I wish they’d let this show go to the graveyard and move on.

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