Lloyd Webber Hopes to Open Phantom Sequel Simultaneously in Three Cities

News   Lloyd Webber Hopes to Open Phantom Sequel Simultaneously in Three Cities Andrew Lloyd Webber has confirmed that "the button [has been] pushed" on Phantom: Love Never Dies for it to now proceed into production.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber Photo by Aubrey Reuben

As reported in The Times of London, Phantom: Love Never Dies make its premiere at the end of 2009. It is Lloyd Webber's current plan to open the new musical simultaneously in three territories. Lloyd Webber told the Times, "I don't think you could do this if it wasn't the sequel to Phantom ... We've been into the feasibility of rehearsing three companies at once and opening very fast in the three territories. The one which really interests me [in the Far East] would be China ... I think to open Love Never Dies in Shanghai would be an enormous thing."

As previously reported by Playbill.com, Lloyd Webber has been proceeding slowly on bringing the Phantom sequel to the stage. "I have learned very definitely over the last few years that you have to be very sure before you go forward," he told Playbill.com earlier in the year, noting that he has abandoned plans to bring the Bulgakov novel, "The Master and Margarita," to the stage for precisely that reason: "I couldn't really find anybody who saw in it what I saw in it." Admitting that there were problems with the plot – "the end of it is very confused" – he revealed, "I got myself into that problem with The Woman in White. We had a terrific first act, but actually today, and it was something I had underestimated, there's no secret you can even remotely put on a stage today that a modern audience can find shocking. It was a novel about a faked birth certificate – and people said, 'So what?' That was our mistake – if ever I revisited the piece, we would have to stop at the point where it is revealed that the sisters are swapped in the asylum. So I don't want to make that mistake again, and what I'm going to do is workshop [the new Phantom] to the nth degree."

The first act was workshopped in summer 2008 at Lloyd Webber's private Sydmonton Festival at his Berkshire country home. "We've already done the first act," Lloyd Webber explained, "and rather like The Woman in White, where the first act worked wonderfully, what we cannot do is presume that the second act is going to as well." Working with director Jack O'Brien, who staged the Sydmonton workshop, and lyricist Glenn Slater, he is now writing the rest of the show, and when they have completed the work, "we are going to do a workshop of the second act, then take a month off and do it again with both halves this time and then we'll see."

He said at the time, "I won't push the button on it till we've done both those workshops. I don't want to let this one out unless we're pretty sure that the basic material is as good as we can get it."

Now that he has told The Times that the button has been pushed on the show – in which the Phantom has been relocated from the Paris Opera to Brooklyn's Coney Island, with an entirely new story created by himself, lyricist Slater, director O'Brien "and a twist of it was given to us by Ben Elton," the productions have to be cast. He has told The Times, "We are pretty clear who our Phantom is going to be – I can't say who." The Times speculates that Gerard Butler, who played the title role in the 2004 film version of Lloyd Webber's musical, and Hugh Jackman could be among the contenders. It also confirms that the designer will be Bob Crowley, currently represented on Broadway by his designs for Mary Poppins.