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Friday, 27 August 2010

The Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies - Does the sequel succeed?

Phantom of the Opera premiered in London on 9 October 1986, and is now one of the world’s favourite musicals. The creators Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh originally conceived the idea as a tongue-in-cheek farce, and so the overwhelming success was quite unexpected. Nearly 35 years on and Lloyd Webber introduces us to ‘Love Never Dies’ the sequel production to Phantom. Earlier this week I went to see both shows on consecutive nights to see if they warrant all the hype and to decide if Love Never Dies lives up to the legend that is Phantom of the Opera.

As a music and drama graduate I will be honest that I am cynical about Lloyd Webber’s music, but none can deny the accessibility of this composer’s work bringing the musical to the masses. Phantom impressed me and definitely exceeded my expectations - a talented cast, grand set and costumes and exciting technical stunts make it visually magical. Phantom has many operatic qualities, including an orchestral power, a sense of luxury and a true classical style of singing from some of the lead roles. The huge success of the show is due to the hit songs that thread through the action. I recognised the numbers: ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and ‘Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again’, and this made me feel instantly involved in the narrative.

Love Never Dies is an epic show. The story is mostly coherent; the music is just about bearable at times. The only aspect that excels for me is the spectacular circus scenes and clever use of projectors and lighting. This show is set in America, and so loses all the classic European elegance that Phantom displays, and sadly the operatic idea is mostly gone too, replaced by a garish psychedelic circus show. If you go to the theatre to see a spectacle then I can recommend Love Never Dies but for me the plot and music are far fetched and uninspiring.

So it seems the sequel has failed again. Without its popular predecessor I doubt Love Never Dies would be attracting large audiences. However one thing is for certain; The Phantom of the Opera deserves its status and is truly a masterpiece of the musical theatre genre.

1 comment:

  1. Phantom Needs NO Sequel!
    Raoul becomes a drunken wife beater, Meg becomes a topless dancer who murders her best friend Christine, Christine sleeps around before her wedding night and bares Phantom's child, and Phantom moves from the majestic Paris Opera House in France to New York's Coney Island theme park. Webber's ludicrous sequel to Phantom - LOVE NEVER DIES - destroys the original story and characters created by Gaston Leroux.

    Theatre critics disliked the show giving it less than 3 stars, while many audience members are calling it 'Paint Never Dries'. Phantom Needs NO Sequel! LOVE SHOULD DIE!