Librettist Named for Phantom Sequel

By Kenneth Jones
09 Apr 2008

Ben Elton
Ben Elton

Ben Elton, the playwright, librettist and screenwriter who has worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber on The Beautiful Game, is the librettist of Lloyd Webber's sequel to The Phantom of the Opera.

A spokesperson for Lloyd Webber confirmed news of the collaboration. Lloyd Webber had been working solo on the book prior to this.

As previously reported, Glenn Slater (The Little Mermaid, Leap of Faith, Sister Act, all with Alan Menken) is the project's lyricist, Jack O'Brien (Hairspray, The Coast of Utopia) is the director and Bob Crowley (The Coast of Utopia) the designer. No production dates or casting have been announced, although a 2009 launch has been mentioned.

British writer Elton is also working with Lloyd Webber to revise the Irish soccer-and-politics-themed musical, The Beautiful Game, which is to be renamed The Boys in the Photograph for a North American production in Canada in 2009. Elton has book and lyric credit on that show.

Elton — a comedian who also penned scripts for TV's "Blackadder" series and wrote the London comedy Popcorn — wrote and conceived the Queen-scored We Will Rock You, an international hit.



In the Phantom sequel, the title character travels to Coney Island around 1900 and is reunited with soprano Christine. The show is not based on source material.

One of the reported titles of the new project was Phantom in Manhattan. Frederick Forsyth, who wrote a novel called "The Phantom of Manhattan," was reportedly working with Lloyd Webber on the sequel in its early stages, but that is no longer the case.

The Daily Mail previously described the sequel plot this way: "The Phantom has slipped away to New York and has set up a fairground world on Coney Island, along with Madame Giry and her daughter, Meg. He organizes a concert in Manhattan for Christine, the object of his desire. Christine travels to the U.S. with her husband Raoul and their teenage son, who happens to be a musical genius...just like the Phantom."

The winner of seven 1988 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, The Phantom of the Opera (which originated in London) became the longest-running show in Broadway history on Jan. 9, 2006. It surpassed Lloyd Webber's Cats, which was a record-holder for its run of 7,485 performances. Phantom celebrated 20 years on Broadway in January 2008.

Lloyd Webber turned 60 March 22 (which is also composer Stephen Sondheim's birthday).

The Harold Prince-directed production of The Phantom of the Opera continues at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway.

In addition to the above-named shows, Lloyd Webber's theatre work also includes Aspects of Love, The Beautiful Game, Whistle Down the Wind, By Jeeves, Starlight Express, The Woman in White, Tell Me on a Sunday, Song & Dance and more.

Lloyd Webber's songs will be sung on TV's "American Idol" April 22, with the composer himself coaching and performing on the April 23 results show.