Opening Night: Love Never Dies Press Reviews!

Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess in Love Never Dies (© Catherine Ashmore)
© Catherine Ashmore

With the official opening night of Love Never Dies having taken place last night, 9 March 2010, it is what everyone is talking about.  There are mixed reviews of Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s newest show some finding it weak in plot and perhaps a bit gloomy but one certainly can’t fault the music, the effort of the actors, and the charisma between the two main leads, Phantom (Ramin Karimloo) and Christine (Sierra Boggess).  Many find it a disappointment because they were expecting the same as Phantom of the Opera.  If it was going to be the same, there would be no need for a new show.

This mix of the heart-stopping and the stomach-lurching (a true kinaesthetic experience) characterises some of the best sequences in Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s much-heralded follow-up to The Phantom of the Opera. This latter was – and is – the most commercially successful show in theatre history and, by virtue of that fact, is not an easy piece for which to write a sequel (the fans – or “phans” – are very possessive about the original) nor is it one which self-evidently demands a dramatic extension.
Paul Taylor at the Independent (www.independent.co.uk)
[Rating:5.0/5]

There is much to enjoy in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical. The score is one of the composer’s most seductive. Bob Crowley’s design and Jack O’Brien’s direction have a beautiful kaleidoscopic fluidity. And the performances are good. The problems lie within the book, chiefly credited to Lloyd Webber himself and Ben Elton, which lacks the weight to support the imaginative superstructure.
Michael Billington for The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk)
[Rating:3.0/5]

But then this Phantom is not the phantom we knew. The “poisoned gargoyle who burns in hell” has clearly taken an anger management course in New York. True, he fills his eyrie with oddities, like the skeleton who pushes a cocktail trolley, but he’s very much the considerate gentleman, eager impresario and, soon, doting father. Would he whimsically hang the backstage crew or send a chandelier crashing into a crowd? Not any more. Even his blemish, which only ever looked as if an aspiring seamstress had done a little sewing practice on his face, seems tidier. Beside, say, the Elephant Man, Karimloo’s urbane, melodic, not-so-sinister Phantom might be Cary Grant. Maybe the tattooed giant in his retinue is a plastic surgeon or a pre-Freudian shrink.
Benedict Nightingale for The Times (www.timesonline.co.uk)
[Rating:2.0/5]

I must admit I attended Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-awaited sequel to his world-conquering Phantom of the Opera with a degree of trepidation. Sequels often prove pale shadows of the original work that inspired them, and trail a disagreeable odour of the opportunistic cash-in. More ominously still, many of Lloyd Webber’s most fervent admirers appear to have turned against the new show.
Charles Spencer in the Telegraph (www.telegraph.co.uk)
[Rating:4.0/5]

So: a hit? Not quite. It is too much an also-ran to the prequel, and its opening is too stodgy. But if it is a miss, it is — like Christine — a noble miss, noble because Lloyd Webber’s increasingly operatic music tries to lift us to a higher plane.
Quentin Letts in the Daily Mail (www.dailymail.co.uk)
[Rating:0.0/5]

It’s easily the pick of his typically lush melodies. Sets and special effects cannot be faulted, the singing is terrific. Director Jack O’Brien cranks up the melodramatic tension to a stunning ending. But phantastic? Afraid not.
Bill Hagerty for The Sun (www.thesun.co.uk)
[Rating:0.0/5]

The music is a more mixed bag. Several numbers are waltz- based, and these are the best part. “Look With Your Heart” is a wistful three-step. Madame Giry’s daughter Meg, a hoochie- coochie dancer, does a vaudeville turn in the strip-tease number “Bathing Beauty.”
Warwick Thompson at Bloomberg (www.bloomberg.com)
[Rating:3.0/5]

That’s the concluding number of the first act, and it actually has some energy. But true to self-sabotaging form, this musical follows that song with the bizarrely unexciting postscript of Mrs. Danvers, I mean Mme. Giry, tossing the kid’s jacket down a stairwell. This is matched, in the second act climax, by what feels like the longest death scene of all time. Relax, I’m not going to tell you who dies (while gasping out a reprise of the title song). Why bother, when from beginning to end, “Love Never Dies” is its very own spoiler.
Ben Brantley at The New York Times (www.nytimes.com)
[Rating:0.0/5]

With director Jack O’Brien, lyricist Glenn Slater and co-librettist Ben Elton, Lloyd Webber has fashioned a deeply personal story once again of re-awakening his own talent, which in the Phantom?s case is an expression of sexual love, and meditating on the transmission of that talent from one generation to the next (from his own father, perhaps and onwards? to whom?). Expert musical supervision by Simon Lee, orchestrations by the ever crucial David Cullen, and lighting to die for by Paule Constable all contribute to this outstanding and heart-stopping occasion.
Michael Coveney at Whatsonstage (www.whatsonstage.com)
[Rating:5.0/5]

Visually, the show is stunning in places, with projections designed by Jon Driscoll. This is technology Lloyd Webber first played with in The Woman in White and here they form a large part of the backdrop, particularly in the opening sequence, during which a grey and deserted Coney Island is cleverly brought back to life.
Matthew Hemley The Stage (www.thestage.co.uk)
[Rating:0.0/5]

Phantom may be the most commercially successful entertainment ever devised. Its aficionados are legion. Love Never Dies is both an attempt to mobilise them and a risky revival of motifs and characters that the original seemed decisively to have put to bed.
Henry Hitchings for The Evening Standard (thisislondon.co.uk)
[Rating:2.0/5]

The audience, packed with stars including Sir Michael Caine, Lord Bragg, Graham Norton, Gerard Butler, Sir Terry Wogan and Chris Evans, rose to their feet and cheered as the show reached its climax. Lloyd Webber bowed and blew a kiss to the audience, and kissed those on the stage. The biggest cheers of the night were saved for Ramin Karimloo, who plays the Phantom, and Sierra Boggess, who plays Christine.
Jody Thompson by Mirror.co.uk (www.mirror.co.uk)
[Rating:0.0/5]

What is interesting is that there is usually a love/hate relationship when most shows first start. Look at Phantom of the Opera, for example. Critics were not particularly taken with it either when it first opened in 1986 but it has gone on to perform in 149 cities (in more than 25 countries), has been seen by an estimated 100 million people in a minimum of 14 languages, and has won over 50 major awards. Only time will tell but we wish Love Never Dies and all involved much success.

Book Tickets for Love Never Dies at Adelphi Theatre!

Review: You Will Believe ‘Love Never Dies’ After Seeing This…

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies opened on Monday, 22 February 2010 at London’s Adelphi Theatre to a packed house full of excited theatregoers and Andrew Lloyd Webber himself.  The audience was all a buzz with anticipation.  It seems that a lot of time had passed since this new show was announced formally at the press launch on 8 October 2009 at London’s Her Majesty’s Theatre but it is here now and is a must see!  The world premiere performance of Love Never Dies is scheduled for 9 March 2010.  

It is unimaginable all the people required to make a production like this but a thank you goes out to all involved for making such a remarkable and history-making musical.  Bravo.  Andrew Lloyd Webber must be very proud seeing this idea finally come to life. 

It opens on the pier at Coney Island on a dreary, cold, moonlit night with Madame Giry (played by Liz Robertson) reminiscing of Coney Island in its day.  The sound effects complimented the set with seagulls and the wind blowing.  Even the moon turned into a ferris wheel – how imaginative.  The visual effects were stunning as screens and projections enhanced / portrayed what she was thinking about.  The tall man, acrobats, fire baton performer, trapeze artists and the circus acts were terrific and their costumes authentic looking.  This is just the beginning as it only gets better. 

© Tracey Nolan

Before I go further into the story, I must comment on the fabulous music written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and conducted by Simon Lee.  It intensified and supported what was being performed by the talented actors.  Be prepared to get shivers when you hear The Phantom (passionately and perfectly played by Ramin Karimloo) sing ‘Til I Hear You Sing.  All the songs are special but my three favorite are ‘Til I Hear You Sing, Look with Your Heart, and Love Never Dies.  

The wonderful actors are commended on delivering such convincing performances.  A list of the main characters follows but it is not to disregard the ensemble who all add to a successful show. 

The Phantom is absolutely perfectly played by the talented Ramin Karimloo.  The beautiful Sierra Bogges makes her West end debut playing Christine Daae.  Christine’s husband, Raoul, is played by Joseph Millson.  As mentioned above, Madam Giry (manager) is played by Liz Robertson and her daughter (and performer), Meg Giry is played by Summer StrallenThe Phantom’s devoted trio Fleck, Squelch, and Gangle were played by Niamh Perry, Adam Pearce, and Jami Reid-Quarrel.  And last, but not least… Christine’s son, Gustave (the only new character) is played by a multitude of children but on this night, the character was wonderfully played by Harry Child who sang with a pure voice. 

I must reiterate Ramin Karimloo plays such a passionate character.  You can feel it in his songs, you can see it in his actions.  He is absolutely brilliant.  Sierra Boggess is beautiful and delicate with a softer voice.  All of the actors are talented in their own right, of course.  It is easy to see why everyone got a standing ovation. 

This may be a continuation of the most famous love story but it is a separate story all it’s own.  Taking place 10 years after the infamous Paris Opera House, it offers one surprise after another. The Phantom is a Man in his own right having created a mysterious and intriguing world on Coney Island, his Phantasma.  He sends for Christine to perform there.  Due to monetary problems, Christine accepts and brings her husband and son with her, no one realizing who Mr Y is.  Her husband seems like a pompous jerk who complains about everything but her child seems to share her qualities and is kind and innocent.  Just when they think no one is there to meet them at the dock, a ‘glass’ horse and a seemingly empty carriage with a glass skeleton driver pulls up.  The door opens and The Phantom’s Devoted Trio get out to greet them and take them to their master.  The visual imagery projected was terrific as it showed ‘the carriage’ travelling over a bridge and a map showing where they were going from and travelling to.  The combination of projection, the actual scenery/stage set, and live actors complimented one another and helped to portray the story. 

My first opinion of Raoul is confirmed by the way he treats his son and talks to his wife soon after they arrive at the Hotel.  He does nothing but complain and his drinking problem evident (which is added to by the gambling problem referred to more than once).  Their son, Gustave, has a pure voice to match his pure heart and it is easy to see that Christine loves him dearly.  It’s even apparent that she loves her husband and is devoted to him though one wonders why.  Raoul leaves for ‘fresh air’ (at the local bar) and Gustave goes to bed after his mother comforts him when he questions if his father loves him.  Then Christine, left alone, plays the musical toy that was given to her son and recognizes the music.  She is standing there obviously feeling a presence as The Phantom enters from the balcony.  They sing the ‘why’ and ‘what if’ game.  The love, history, and attraction is so transparent but she remains the dutiful wife.  By the way, the detail in the hotel room, particularly the door / balcony was splendid.  Gustave awakens from a nightmare and meets his mother’s ‘friend’, Mr Y (the man who brought them there). 

The next day, Christine and Gustave go backstage at Phantasma for business-related reasons when who should she run into but Meg Giry.  They are joined by Raoul and Madame Giry where they have a surprise reunion.  As they sing, Dear Old Friend, it is apparent that it is an awkward reunion and not a welcomed one especially for Meg and Madam Giry.  This is when Raoul finds out who the boss is and he is not pleased about the news. 

The Phantom calls for Gustave and his devoted trio brings the boy to his room.  The boy is intrigued with all the inventions / gadgets (like the walking skeleton with lady’s legs) which pushes a table across the stage).  He also plays the piano for The Phantom.  The Phantom marvels at his musical talent and enjoys that Gustave is at home there.  There is some important news that is revealed before the intermission and not something that makes everyone happy. 

After the intermission, the Orchestra plays Entr’acte, a beautiful introduction to Part II.  The rest of the scenes are as good as the first half.  There are humorous parts throughout the musical… one being in the bar when The Phantom (pretending to be a bartender) reveals himself to Raoul.  That was a good scene between the two men in Christine’s life.  I will say that Christine obviously will have to make a choice but I won’t say any more.  I don’t want to spoil anything so will just continue that it is full of intrigue, surprise, laughter, tears, and an undying love.  The ending was very unexpected but again I can’t divulge more because I want you to go and enjoy it.  I want you to be surprised and moved.  Whether you’re a hopeless romantic or a sceptic of love or whether you just want to see how the story continues… you’ll want to see Love Never Dies.  Go, take it in, feel it, and enjoy! 

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S P O I L E R   A L E R T

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If you want to know more, please read on… if not, PLEASE READ NO FURTHER!!! 

The Phantom figures out before intermission that Gustave is his son (which I also figured out so may not be a surprise to you).  At the altercation at the bar, the men make an agreement… if Christine performs that evening, Raoul will leave.  If she does not perform, The Phantom will let her be and will pay all of Raoul’s debts.  It is touch and go what she will do as she is almost pulled in by Raoul’s words.  Her love for The Phantom though is too strong and at the last minute while on the stage, she starts to sing.  She sings Love Never Dies… Raoul surprisingly honors the deal made or maybe just realizes he has no chance and leaves.  She has chosen her true love.  Just when you delightedly think there will be a happy-ever-after ending… there is more – Meg has taken Gustave.  She is saddened by the realization that her boss loves another and feels used for all the years she gave to him.  She is beside herself with grief.  After a chase / search on the streets of Coney Island, they are found on the pier.  Gustave is scared.  Meg lets him go and he flees to the protective arms of his mother.  Meg then pulls out a gun… The Phantom’s gun and points it at him while The Phantom and her mother try to talk her out of doing anything stupid or dangerous.  She then turns the gun to herself when The Phantom talks her (or sings her) out of doing any self-harm… you think everything is fine until he accidentally calls her Christine at the end.  That pushes her over the edge and she almost unknowingly fires the gun at Christine’s direction.  Yes, Christine is shot to the dismay of all, even her shooter whom she forgives before she dies.  She also reveals to Gustave who his father is and helps him accept it.  The Phantom and Christine share a love-filled, emotional kiss and embrace before she tragically dies.  The scene ends with Gustave removing his father’s mask and touching his face – a form of acceptance and a moving moment between father and son indicating that they will be okay.

by Ann Kamran (stagetalk.co.uk)

[Rating:5.0/5]

Book Tickets for Love Never Dies at Adelphi Theatre London!

Full cast announced for Webber’s Love Never Dies

The Really Useful Group has announced the full cast for Love Never Dies, Webber’s sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess to star as ‘The Phantom’ and ‘Christine’ in Adelphi Theatre London.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long awaited new show “LOVE NEVER DIES” will have its World Premiere in London at the Adelphi Theatre on Tuesday 9 March 2010, followed by New York on Thursday 11 November and Australia in 2011.

Ramin Karimloo will create the role of ‘The Phantom’ in “LOVE NEVER DIES”, having already played the role to great acclaim in “The Phantom of the Opera” in London.  Ramin’s other stage credits include starring as ‘Enjolras’ in “Les Misérables” in the West End, ‘Chris’ in the UK tour of “Miss Saigon” and ‘Artie Green’ in the UK tour of “Sunset Boulevard”. Ramin also played ‘Raoul’ in the West End production of “The Phantom of the Opera”, as well as the role of ‘Christine’s Father’ in Joel Schumacher’s film, making him the only actor to play all three of ‘Christine’s’ loves.

Sierra Boggess will create the role of ‘Christine’ in “LOVE NEVER DIES”. Sierra made her Broadway debut creating the lead role of ‘Ariel’ in Disney’s “The Little Mermaid”, receiving both Drama League and Drama Desk Award nominations and a Broadway.com Audience Award for ‘Favourite Breakthrough Performance’. She also understudied the role of ‘Cosette’ in the U.S. national tour of “Les Misérables”. In 2007 Sierra was handpicked by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Hal Prince to originate the role of ‘Christine’ in the brand new production of “Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular”. “LOVE NEVER DIES” marks Sierra’s West End debut.

Joseph Millson will play ‘Raoul’.  He has worked extensively in theatre, film and television, including many roles at both the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.  He was nominated as ‘Best Actor 2001’ at the Royal Television Society Awards, and as ‘Most Promising Actor 1999’ and ‘Best Actor 2000’ at the National Television Awards for his starring role as ‘Sam Morgan’ in five series of “Peak Practice”. 

Liz Robertson will play ‘Madame Giry’.  Liz Robertson has starred in many West End and regional musicals, including “The King and I”, “The Sound of Music”, “I Love My Wife”, “The Mitford Girls” and “Song and Dance”.  She starred as ‘Eliza Doolittle’ in “My Fair Lady” at the Adelphi Theatre for which she earned rave reviews and The Variety Club’s ‘Most Promising Actress’ Award, as well as an ‘Olivier’ nomination for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’. 

Summer Strallen will play ‘Meg Giry’.  She, also, has starred in many West End musicals, including “Scrooge”, “Cats”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “Guys and Dolls”, “The Boyfriend” (for which she was nominated for the 2007 ‘Olivier’ Award for ‘Best Supporting Role in a Musical’) and “The Drowsy Chaperone” (for which she was nominated for the 2008 ‘Olivier’ Award for ‘Best Actress in a Musical’).  She recently starred as ‘Maria’ in the London Palladium production of “The Sound of Music”, having won the role whilst playing ‘Summer Shaw’ in “Hollyoaks” on television. 

‘Fleck’, ‘Squelch’ and ‘Gangle’ will be played respectively by Niamh Perry, Adam Pearce and Jami Reid-Quarrell.  Niamh has recently starred as ‘Sophie’ in “MAMMA MIA!” at the Prince of Wales Theatre and was one of the twelve finalists in “I’d Do Anything” on BBC 1, in which she came fifth.  Adam spent four years with the National Youth Music Theatre and has subsequently played in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat” and “Evita”, both at the Adelphi Theatre in London.  Jami has worked with the English National Opera, the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was in the recent West End production of “Equus” and played the lead in “Depeche Mode” for television.

The cast will also include Derek Andrews, Dean Chisnall, Helen Dixon, Lucie Downer, Paul Farrell, Charlene Ford, Chris Gage, Lucy van Gasse, 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, Mark Skipper, Jonathan Stewart, Tim Walton and Annette Yeo.

The World Premiere of “LOVE NEVER DIES” will take place in London on 9 March 2010 at the Adelphi Theatre. Previews begin on 20 February.  The show will subsequently open in New York on 11 November 2010 and then in Australia in 2011.

Book Tickets for Love Never Dies at Adelphi Theatre London!

Love Never Dies… The story continues…

Andrew Lloyd Webber unveils his brand new production “LOVE NEVER DIES” at a global launch in Her Majesty’s Theatre Haymarket, London. Phantom of the Opera celebrates its 23rd birthday tomorrow as it first opened at Her Majesty’s Theatre on 9th October 1986 which starred Sarah Brightman and Michael Crawford.  Happy Birthday, Phantom!

A video was shown with highlights of the original Phantom of the Opera describing its immense success and numerous accolades.  Andrew Lloyd Webber took the stage after that to share a bit about how the idea for a sequel came to light and the years it took to get it just right…

He gave a funny and heartfelt introduction to this long-awaited new production.  It continues the story of the main characters of ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ and is set 10 years after the disappearance of ‘The Phantom’ and moves from the Paris Opera House far across the Atlantic Ocean to Coney Island, New York.  Now you will be able to find out what has happened in their lives as Christine arrives in New York with her husband and son to discover who actually has lured her from France to sing. 

We got a little view into the show when The Phantom (Ramin Karimloo) and Christine (Sierra Boggess) took the stage and The Phantom wowed us with a new song as Christine sat regally, watching him attentively.  Ramin is the current Phantom and will move to the sequel to continue to capture audiences.

Be prepared to be drawn in.  This musical has all the makings of a good story – obsession, intrigue, music, pain, love – it has it all.

‘Love Never Dies’, which will be making its home at the Adelphi Theatre, previews from 20th February, with a press night scheduled for 9th March and scheduled to run from 10th March to 23rd October 2010.  It will play Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm and Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm.  It is scheduled to open in New York in November 2010 and then in Australia in 2011.  Be the first to see it… book your tickets now!

Book Tickets for Love Never Dies at Adelphi Theatre!