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A CurtainUp London London Review
Love Never Dies

In him my wrongness is made right yet he loathes me just the same. — Phantom
Love Never Dies
Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom and Sierra Boggess as Christine (Photo: Catherine Ashmore)
This sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 The Phantom of the Opera has been ten years in the writing and has strongly divided Lloyd Webber's public following. As someone who liked The Phantom of the Opera on my first viewing but who thought it had little extra to commend it subsequently, once one knew about the falling chandelier and the underground river scenes, I had no agenda either way. Evita remains for me the best of Lloyd Webber.s musicals with Joseph and Sunset Boulevard also up there. The ones I liked least were The Beautiful Game and the mind spinning computer generated scenery of The Woman in White.

Love Never Dies is so full of visual clichés and references to other works that it feels like one of those quizzes where you have to spot the allusions. It opens with The French Lieutenant.s Woman with a figure resembling Mrs Danvers from Rebecca looking out to sea alongside the harbour wall. The sea is shown as computer generated crashing waves with real horses galloping onshore and immediately we are in the Guinness advertisement. Mrs Danvers is greeted by a Goth-like figure, maybe one of The Addams Family or one of Tim Burton's sinister movie characters. She is one of the three freaks, Fleck (Niamh Perry), Gangle (Jami Reid-Quarrell) and tattoo faced Squelch (Adam Pearce), henchmen to the Phantom.

The story is set ten years after all that underground cavorting between Christine and her Phantom. The Phantom (Ramin Karimloo) has escaped to the United States where he is the impresario of Phantasma, a Coney Island attraction. Christine (Sierra Boggess) has married her Raoul (Joseph Millson) who has not turned out at all well. He's still dashingly handsome but has a nasty gambling habit and bullies his wife. Christine is lured to the United States to sing with the offer of a large fee and she brings with her, husband Raoul and her nine year old son Gustave (Harry Child).

The Freaks turn up in a wonderful computer generated crystal carriage drawn by horses to collect Christine and take her to her hotel. The Statue of Liberty floats past. Raoul has no time for the boy and Gustave is taken to Phantasma by his mother where he is shown round by the Phantom. It turns out that on hearing the divine voice of young Gustave, the Phantom realises that only his genes could have produced this beautiful sound and not Raoul.s. Now that consummation of their relationship ten years ago is news to Phantom fans! Unfortunately Gustave doesn't react well when the Phantom, minus wig and mask, reveals his true appearance to the boy.

The little Degas ballerina Meg (Summer Strallen) from the chorus line at L.Opéra in Phantom has come to New York where she is now the lead singer dancer in "end of the pier" type shows and her ambitious mother Madame Giri (Liz Robertson) - yes Mrs Danvers - is hoping the Phantom will marry Meg and secure their future. Madame Giri will do everything she can to frustrate the Phantom's rekindled romance with Christine.

Some of the sets are tributes to the Phantom's obsession with Christine. Huge art nouveau gold figures of Christine dominate the hotel room and the Phantasma set where there is a perfect waxwork automaton of the young Christine in a shrine. In between we are treated to a moon which spins into the big wheel at the fairground attraction in sophisticated video and computer generated footage which I found admirable. In Phantasma itself a dragon fly nymph is suspended high above with a huge circular art nouveau surround, numerous disembodied Medusa heads sing while hanging from the ceiling and there is an automaton version of a gorilla who plays rock music, a giant version of the little chimpanzee automaton that opens Phantom. There is a table which has human legs that walk and the torso is skeletal so that it appears that the person is half dead and half alive.

The orchestrations are soaring but struck me as contrived and rather self consciously over the top but as the tunes grow on one, this will matter less. The Phantom still switches from the rough low almost spoken lyrics to high operatic notes as did the original. Like most Lloyd Webber musicals the choreography is not particularly strong.

I found the first act a bit of a yawn but things greatly improve in the second act. The overture starts the second act rather than the first and is pleasant and tuneful. The scene set in the Edward Hopper inspired bar between the Phantom and Raoul has a lovely song, "Devil Take The Hindmost" as the men agree a life changing wager. We have to wait almost to the end of the show to hear Christine sing the title number "Love Never Dies" and it is preceded by a quartet reprising "Devil Take The Hindmost" when Gustave and Madame Giri join the leading men. Gustave has some of the best music in the show with the unbroken voice of a brilliant boy soprano. Meg leads an end of the pier piece of girls in bathing costumes and the three freaks fly in by air balloon as if there wasn.t enough spectacle.

American Sierra Boggess as Christine is ravishingly beautiful, looks not unlike the young Sarah Brightman, and her exceptional voice renders "Love Never Dies" unforgettable. A trio of spotlights light her on a bare stage as this beautiful melody is the one we have all been waiting for. There is a dramatic finale. All I'll reveal is that it's set on the pier at Coney Island.

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Love Never Dies
Book by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton with Glenn Slater and Frederick Forsyth
Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics by Glenn Slater
Directed by Jack O.Brien

Starring: Ramon Karimloo, Sierra Boggess, Joseph Millson, Liz Robertson, Summer Strallen, Niamh Perry, Adam Pearce, Jami Reid-Quarrell
With: Jack Blass, Harry Child, Tyler Fagan, Alexander Hockaday, Richard Linnell, Charlie Manton, Kaisun Raj, Derek Andrews, Dean Chisnall, Helen Dixon, Lucie Downer, Paul Farrell, Charlene Ford, Chris Gage, Celia Graham, Simon Ray Harvey, Jack Horner, Erin Anna Jameson, Pip Jordan, Jessica Kirton, Louise Madison, Janet Mooney, Colette Morrow, Tam Mutu, Ashley Nottingham, Tom Oakley, Rae Piper, Mark Skipper, Jonathan Stewart, Lucy van Gasse, Tim Walton, Annette Yeo.
Choreographer: Jerry Mitchell
Projection designed by Jon Driscoll
Special Effects by Scott Penrose
Musical Supervisor: Simon Lee
Orchestrations: David Cullen and Andrew Lloyd Webber
Set and Costume Design: Bob Crowley
Hair and wigs: Richard Mawbey
Lighting: Paule Constable
Sound: Mick Potter
Running time: Two hours 30 minutes with one interval
Box Office: 0871 297 0749
Booking to 23rd October 2010
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 10th March 2010 at The Adelphi, Strand, London WC2E 7NA (Rail/Tube:Charing Cross)
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • Prologue - Madame Giry, Fleck
  • The Coney Island Waltz - The Orchestra
  • That's The Place That You Ruined, You Fool! - Madame Giry, Fleck
  • Heaven By The Sea - Ensemble
  • Only For Him/ Only For You - Meg Giry, Madame Giry, Ensemble
  • The Aerie - The Orchestra
  • Til I Hear You Sing - The Phantom
  • Giry Confronts The Phantom/ 'Til I Hear You Sing (Reprise) - Meg Giry, Madame Giry, The Phantom
  • Christine Disembarks - Raoul, Gustave, Ensemble
  • Arrival Of The Trio - "Are You Ready To Begin?" - Fleck, Gangle, Squelch, Raoul, Gustave, Ensemble
  • What A Dreadful Town! - Christine Daaé, Raoul, Gustave
  • Look With Your Heart - Christine Daaé, Gustave
  • Beneath A Moonless Sky - Christine Daaé, The Phantom
  • Once Upon Another Time - Christine Daaé, The Phantom
  • Mother Please, I'm Scared! - Gustave, Christine Daaé, The Phantom
  • Dear Old Friend - Meg Giry, Madame Giry, Christine Daaé, Raoul, Gustave, Ensemble
  • Beautiful - Gustave, Fleck, Gangle, Squelch, The Phantom
  • The Beauty Underneath - The Phantom, Gustave
  • The Phantom Confronts Christine - The Phantom, Christine Daaé, Madame Giry
Act Two
  • Entr'acte - The Orchestra
  • Why Does She Love Me? - Raoul, Meg Giry, Ensemble
  • Devil Take The Hindmost - Raoul, The Phantom
  • Heaven By The Sea (Reprise) - Ensemble
  • Ladies... Gents!/The Coney Island Waltz (Reprise) - Fleck, Gangle, Squelch, Ensemble
  • Bathing Beauty - Meg Giry, Fleck, Gangle, Squelch, Ensemble
  • "Mother, Did You Watch?" - Meg Giry, Madame Giry
  • Before The Performance - Christine Daaé, Raoul, Gustave, The Phantom
  • Devil Take The Hindmost (Quartet) - Gustave, Raoul, The Phantom, Madame Giry, Meg Giry, Ensemble
  • Love Never Dies - Christine Daaé
  • Ah Christine! - The Phantom, Christine Daaé , Raoul
  • Gustave! Gustave! - Christine Daaé, The Phantom, Madame Giry, Fleck, Squelch
  • Please Miss Giry, I Want To Go Back - Meg Giry, Christine Daaé, The Phantom, Madame Giry, Gustave
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