Love Never Dies

Love Never Dies is a musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and later Charles Hart, and book by Lloyd Webber, Slater and Ben Elton. It is a sequel to the Lloyd Webber musical The Phantom of the Opera. The plot is not based on the story-line in the original book by Gaston Leroux, and Lloyd Webber has stated "I don't regard this as a sequel – it's a stand-alone piece". The musical is set in 1907, which Lloyd Webber states is "ten years roughly after the end of the original Phantom," although the events of the original actually took place in 1881. Christine Daaé is invited to perform at Phantasma, a new attraction in Coney Island, by an anonymous impresario and, with her husband Raoul and son Gustave in tow, journeys to Brooklyn, unaware that it is the Phantom who has arranged her appearance in the popular beach resort.

Although Lloyd Webber began working on Love Never Dies in 1990, it was not until 2007 that he began writing the music. The musical opened at the Adelphi Theatre in the West End on 9 March 2010 with previews from 22 February 2010. It was originally directed by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, however the show closed for four days in November 2010 for substantial re-writes, which were overseen by Lloyd Webber, and opened with new direction from Bill Kenwright. Set and costume designs by Bob Crowley. The production is the first time a musical sequel has been staged in the West End. The musical received mixed reviews. The planned Broadway production, which was to have opened simultaneously, was indefinitely postponed.

Andrew Lloyd Webber first began plans for a sequel to his 1986 hit musical, The Phantom of the Opera, in 1990. Following a conversation with Maria Björnson, the designer of The Phantom of the Opera, Lloyd Webber decided that, were a sequel to come about, it would be set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. One of his ideas was to have Phantom live above ground in Manhattan's first penthouse, but he rejected this when he saw a TV documentary about the Coney Island fairground. Lloyd Webber began collaborating with author Frederick Forsyth on the project, but it soon fell apart as Lloyd Webber felt the ideas they were developing would be difficult to adapt for a stage musical. Forsyth went on to publish some of the ideas he had worked on with Lloyd Webber in 1999 as a novel entitled The Phantom of Manhattan.

Lloyd Webber returned to the project in 2006, collaborating with a number of writers and directors. However, he still did not feel the ideas he had were adaptable into a piece of musical theatre. Finally, in early 2007, Lloyd Webber approached Ben Elton (who had served as the librettist for Lloyd Webber's The Beautiful Game) to help shape a synopsis for a sequel, based on Lloyd Webber's initial ideas. Elton's treatment of the story focused more on the original characters of The Phantom of the Opera and omitted new characters that Lloyd Webber and Forsyth had developed. Lloyd Webber was pleased with Elton's treatment and began work on the sequel. In March 2007, he announced he would be moving forward with the project.

The Daily Mail announced in May 2007 that the sequel would be delayed, because Lloyd Webber's six-month-old kitten Otto, a rare-breed Turkish Van, climbed onto Lloyd Webber's Clavinova digital piano and managed to delete the entire score. Lloyd Webber was unable to recover any of it from the instrument, but was eventually able to reconstruct the score. In 2008, Lloyd Webber first announced that the sequel would likely be called Phantom: Once Upon Another Time, and the first act was performed at Lloyd Webber's annual Sydmonton Festival. The Phantom was played by Ramin Karimloo and Raoul was played by Alistair Robbins.[18] However, in September 2008, during the BBC's Birthday in the Park concert celebrating his 60th birthday, Lloyd Webber announced that the title would be Love Never Dies. In other workshop readings, Raoul and Christine were played by Aaron Lazar and Elena Shaddow.

On 3 July 2009, Lloyd Webber announced that Karimloo (who had played the Phantom in the West End) and Sierra Boggess (who had originated the role of Christine in Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular) had been cast as the Phantom and Christine and that the role of Meg Giry would be played by Summer Strallen, Madame Giry by Liz Robertson and Raoul by Joseph Millson. I'd Do Anything finalist Niamh Perry was given the role of Fleck.

Lloyd Webber originally intended for Love Never Dies to open in London, New York and Shanghai simultaneously in the autumn of 2009. By March 2009, he had decided to open the show at London's Adelphi Theatre, followed by Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre (before transferring to Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre in 2010) and Shanghai. The three casts would rehearse simultaneously in London for three months beginning August 2009. Opening dates were soon announced as 26 October 2009 in London, November in Toronto and February 2010 in Shanghai, with a later transfer to Melbourne, Australia. Plans were then announced for a separate Broadway production to run concurrently with the Toronto show if Toronto proved successful. In May, the debut of the London production was delayed until March 2010 due to Lloyd Webber re-orchestrating the score and re-recording the album. Technical issues with the special effects, automaton version of Christine and casting multiple simultaneous productions also contributed to the postponement. By October 2009, Shanghai plans had been dropped in favour of an Australian production. The New York and Australian productions were later delayed due to the difficulty of casting multiple companies simultaneously.

On 8 October 2009, Lloyd Webber held a press conference at Her Majesty's Theatre, where the original Phantom has been running since 1986, confirming the casting of Boggess as Christine and Karimloo as the Phantom. Karimloo sang "Til I Hear You Sing", and "The Coney Island Waltz" was also performed for the journalists, industry insiders and fans who had assembled for the presentation. Lloyd Webber announced that Love Never Dies would begin previews in London on 20 February 2010 and anticipated that the Broadway production would open on 11 November 2010 (this was later postponed until Spring and then indefinitely). Rehearsals began in January 2010. Previews were delayed two further days by the brief, last-minute illness of Boggess.

On February 1, 2011, the Australian leads were announced and they will be Ben Lewis and Anna O'Byrne.

The first preview of Love Never Dies was delayed from 20 February to 22 February 2010 due to the illness of Boggess and technical demands. The show had its official opening on 9 March 2010. It is directed by Jack O'Brien, choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, and has set and costume designs by Bob Crowley. The cast includes Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom, Sierra Boggess as Christine, Joseph Millson as Raoul, Liz Robertson as Madame Giry, Summer Strallen as Meg Giry and Niamh Perry as Fleck. The production is the first time a musical sequel has been staged in the West End. The show sold £9 million in advance ticket sales, surpassing its initial investment of £6 million. In April 2010, Lloyd Webber was fined £20,000 for illegally painting the Grade II-listed Adelphi Theatre black to promote this musical.

A Broadway production was expected to open in spring 2011, after being delayed by Lloyd Webber's treatment after prostate cancer surgery, and an Australian production is also expected sometime in 2011.[41] Lloyd Webber has also announced that Asian and Canadian productions are planned. After the mixed reviews and negative reaction from some Phantom fans during previews, an executive producer stated that before its bow on Broadway, the show would likely undergo "some changes".[42] On October 1, 2010 it was announced that the musical would not open on Broadway in Spring 2011 and that the show's Broadway future would be announced at a later date.

On October 12, 2010 a press conference was held in Parliament House, Victoria, where Lloyd-Webber appeared via satellite to announce the Australian production will open in May 2011 at Melbourne's Regent Theatre. This production, the first outside of the UK, will feature brand new direction and design by an Australian creative team including director Simon Phillips.

The musical was reviewed again (at Lloyd Webber's invitation), with critic Henry Hitchings noting that "Some of the most obvious alterations stem from the recruitment of lyricist Charles Hart to adjust the cadences of the original clunky lines written by Glenn Slater." He further pointed out that "There are also lots of bracing directorial touches; the show is credited to Jack O’Brien, but it is new choreographer Bill Deamer and producer Bill Kenwright who have added the zest."

It should be noted that on the 22nd of October 2010 it was announced that the show would temporarily close down for four days to go through some plot changes and subsequently lyric rewrites and changes. Charles Hart, one of the lyricists for the original Phantom, admitted producer Bill Kenwright may even be changing the ending of the show.

Ten years after the events at the Paris Opera, The Phantom, the creator and owner of Phantasma is tortured by the absence of Christine and longs to hear her again ("Til I Hear You Sing").

At Coney Island, Madame Giry and the performers of Phantasma introduce the wonders of Coney Island("The Coney Island Waltz"). Meg Giry, Christine Daaé's friend from the Paris Opera, is a performer with Madame Giry at her side. She and the performers of Phantasma win the crowd over with their performance of "Only for You". Giry tells Meg how wonderfully she performed. Madame Giry is irritated at how the Phantom has not watched the performances, reminiscing of how she and Meg smuggled him from Paris.

Christine, Raoul and their ten-year-old son Gustave arrive in New York and are met by crowds of paparazzi. They are greeted by the freaks, who arrive by horse and carriage to take them to Coney Island (“Are you ready to begin?”). Raoul is angry at the reception and upsets Gustave by not playing with him. As Raoul leaves to go drinking, Christine tells Gustave to “Look with your heart” to try to help him understand. Gustave goes to bed, and the Phantom arrives to recount a night of passion they shared the night before her wedding (“Beneath a Moonless Sky”). They recall that “Once upon another time” they thought their love had a chance of succeeding. Gustave wakes up screaming from a nightmare and meets the Phantom for the first time ("Mother Please, I'm Scared!"). The Phantom promises to show Gustave more of Phantasma. He tells Christine that she must sing for him again or she will return home without the boy.

In the rehearsal studio for Phantasma, Meg is surprised and jealous to learn that Christine will be singing. Raoul encounters Giry and discovers that the Phantom is the one for whom Christine is to be singing ("Dear Old Friend"). The freaks bring Gustave to the Aerie where he is greeted by the Phantom. Gustave plays a melody on the piano that leads the Phantom to suspect he is Gustave's father ("Beautiful"). The Phantom questions Gustave and finds they are kindred spirits. He unmasks himself, believing Gustave will accept him ("The Beauty Underneath"), but Gustave is horrified and screams. Christine comforts Gustave and, when pressed by the Phantom, confesses that Gustave is his son ("The Phantom Confronts Christine"). The Phantom makes Christine promise to never tell Gustave that he and not Raoul is his real father. The Phantom declares that everything he owns will go to him. Having overheard everything, a furious Giry fears all her work over the years has been for nothing.

In a dingy bar, Raoul contemplates his relationship with Christine ("Why Does She Love Me?"). He is joined by Meg who tells him he is in "Suicide Hall", the place "where people end up when they don't know where else to go." Meg swims each day to wash away the stress of working. She tells Raoul that he must leave with Christine and Gustave. Raoul says he is not afraid of the Phantom, who has been behind the bar. As soon as Meg leaves, the Phantom reveals himself and they make a bet: if Christine does not sing, Raoul may leave with Christine and Gustave. Otherwise, Raoul must leave alone. The Phantom leads Raoul to question Gustave's paternity ("Devil Take the Hindmost").

Fleck, Squelch and Gangle appear to advertise Christine's appearance at Phantasma ("Invitation to the Concert")). That night, Meg performs a strip-tease about her choice of swimming costumes, going topless at one point ("Bathing Beauty"). The audience goes crazy for Meg, but Giry tells Meg that the Phantom did not watch the performance and it was for nothing ("Mother, Did You Watch?").

"Before the Performance", Gustave explores backstage, while Raoul asks Christine to leave with him if she loves him. As Raoul leaves, the Phantom enters and tells Christine that Raoul's love is not enough and that she must sing for him. In her dressing room, Christine recalls the Opera where she had to decide between Raoul and the Phantom. Giry, Raoul and the Phantom wonder whether Christine will sing ("Devil Take The Hindmost" (reprise)). Christine performs an aria for the crowd, as Raoul and the Phantom watch ("Love Never Dies"). Raoul leaves as Christine finishes to thunderous applause. Christine is greeted by the Phantom and a letter from Raoul informing her of his departure ("Ah Christine"). Gustave is missing, and she becomes worried ("Gustave, Gustave"). The Phantom suspects Giry and threatens her. Fleck notes that she was passing Meg's dressing room when she noticed the mirror had been smashed and saw Meg dragging a small figure away. The Phantom believes he knows where Meg took him.

At Suicide Hall, Meg prepares to drown Gustave, when the others confront her. She holds up a gun so the Phantom will listen as she reveals that the resources Giry has afforded him came from Meg's working as a prostitute to influential men. The Phantom tries to get the gun, but Meg accidentally shoots Christine. Christine reveals to Gustave that the Phantom is his father. She tells the Phantom that her love for him will never die. They have one final kiss, and she dies in his arms. Raoul returns to discover he has lost everything, cradling the body of Christine as Gustave goes to join his real father - The Phantom.