Sequels can be tricky and Love Never Dies has had its fair share of troubles. A sequel to Broadway’s longest running show, The Phantom of the Opera, not only did it never make it to Broadway, but also received considerable rebuke. And truly, it’s a wonder why.
The sequel is pure Andrew Lloyd Webber with more than a touch of Tim Burton — operatic, phantasmagorical, and unabashedly romantic with catchy melodies crying out for a Streisand rendition (Babs, can you hear us?).
It’s interesting to note that although this is considered a sequel, Love Never Dies is based not on Gaston Leroux‘s 1920 novel, Lê Phantome de l’Opera, but on thriller novelist Fredrick Forsyth’s 1990 novel, The Phantom of Manhattan. So perhaps it would better to think of this a different story involving the same characters rather than a pure sequel to Phantom.
The story jumps 10 years, moving from Paris to Coney Island. The Phantom (Garder Thor Cortes) is the creator of a beachside show in which he is assisted by a Desmon-Glen Close channeling Madame Giry (Karen Mason) and her showbiz aspiring daughter, Meg (Mary Michael Patterson). The Phantom still pines for Christine (Meghan Picerno), who has become a famous Parisian soprano and is married to an emotionally stunted Raoul (Sean Thompson) with whom (we assume) she has this songbird of a son, Gustavo (Jack Heston Miller).
In dire straits to due her husband’s gambling debts, Christine and her family are lured to New York so she can perform for Hammerstein, but is manipulated by the Phantom to perform for him instead. And of course, as we are only too aware, singing for the Phantom is not just lending voice to his compositions; it is to yield to him, mind, body and soul.
Cortes, Picerno and young Miller are brilliant. Gabriela Tylesova’s costumes and sets, blending fantasy with reality, are breathtaking. And the lush melodies, especially the cinematic opener, “Till I Hear You Sing Again” and power-duet, “Once Upon Another Time” are classic Lloyd Webber — hooking you, making you swoon. What more can one ask for?
— G. Dhalla