The idea of doing a sequel to a musical never really worked. They have tried (“Annie Warbucks” or “Bring Back Birdie”) and failed. This long planned sequel to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA suffered the same destiny.
This musical opened in London in 2010, but it failed with the critics (it got mixed reviews) and it didn’t connect with audiences. The show didn’t run for many months and closed early, much early, than expected. In 2011, a new production opened in Australia, where it got better reviews and Webber, realizing the show would probably never make it Broadway, decided to film it for a DVD/Blu-ray release.
The story begins 10 years after the events of the original. Now, the Phantom lives in Coney Island, but it still misses Christine. When she arrives in New York, with Raoul and their son, following an invitation of Oscar Hammerstein, she soon discovers it was all a plan by the Phantom to reunite with her.
Like the original, the design of this show looks amazing and director Simon Phillips takes full advantage of it. The problem is the plot; something doesn’t work.
The show starts with the terrific and inspired “Till I Hear You Sing”, the best song of the entire score and one of Webber’s best, which reveals the Phantom intentions. Christine has her first number with the Jerome Kern inspired “Look With Your Heart”, that she sings with her son. Moments later she reunites with the Phantom for another big moment, “Once Upon Another Time”, and near the end she delivers the beautiful title song (reminding me of Kathryn Grayson in Jerome Kern’s SHOW BOAT). The rest of the score is forgettable and the fact that Raoul doesn’t have a good song tells a lot about the show. There’s a couple of funny vaudeville numbers sung by Meg (remember her from PHANTOM?) and a disastrous rock song for the Phantom, “The Beauty Underneath”.
The problem here is that we don’t care much for the characters and everything is very predictable. There aren’t any strong dramatic scenes and, with exception of the songs I mentioned early, nothing is very emotional. In fact, everything is kind of tedious and uninteresting.
As for the cast, Ben Lewis is a powerful Phantom, Anna O’Byrne as Christine sings beautifully, Simon Gleeson does what he can with a poorly written Raoul and Sharon Millerchip has fun as Meg.
If you like watching well-designed shows, with great sets, colorful costumes and listen to a few good songs, you can do worst than watching this LOVE NEVER DIES.
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