Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies to Premiere in London in March 2010; New York, Australia to Follow

By Adam Hetrick
and Mark Shenton
08 Oct 2009

Sierra Boggess will be Christine in Love Never Dies.
Sierra Boggess will be Christine in Love Never Dies.

Love Never Dies, the anticipated sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber's global smash The Phantom of the Opera, will open in London in March 2010, followed by a New York bow the following November.

Oct. 8 marks the on-sale ticket date for the world premiere London bow at the Adelphi Theatre, which begins performances Feb. 20, 2010, prior to an official opening March 9. According to an Oct. 8 press announcement, Love Never Dies will arrive on Broadway Nov. 11, 2010 at a theatre that has already been booked but is still to be announced, according to the show's director, Jack O'Brien. It will also premiere in Australia in 2011; and Lloyd Webber did not rule out other territories and cities receiving productions around the same time.

Lloyd Webber's production company, The Really Useful Group, also announced that the album for Love Never Dies was completed in September and will be released on March 10, 2010, following the London premiere.

The score is written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the lyrics are by Glenn Slater (currently represented in London by his lyrics to Alan Menken's music for Sister Act, and who also previously collaborated with Menken on additional songs for Broadway's The Little Mermaid), and the book is jointly the work of Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton and Slater, with director O'Brien also making contributions.

At a press event held Oct. 8 at Her Majesty's Theatre in London, where the original production of The Phantom of the Opera celebrates its 23rd birthday Oct. 9, Andrew Lloyd Webber introduced the two leads of Love Never Dies, Ramin Karimloo (who is currently playing the title role of The Phantom in London, through Nov. 7, and will play the same role again) and Sierra Boggess (who will play Christine, a role she previously played in the premiere of Phantom – the Las Vegas Spectacular in 2007). Karimloo introduced a song from the show, "Till I Hear You Sing Once More."

Lloyd Webber characterized the show in an interview as not being a sequel, but "a stand-alone piece." He stated, "There are practically no quotes from the original score, apart from one or two things for color." The score has already been recorded with the entire cast of the West End premiere production, but it will not be officially released until March 10 – the day after the show's world premiere in London. And although the show has therefore already been cast, no further casting was officially announced, though Lloyd Webber did reveal that the role of Meg Giry will be played by Summer Strallen, who took over the role of Maria in the final cast of Lloyd Webber's London Palladium revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. Lloyd Webber stated that there are six principals in the show, including a new character of a ten-year-old boy called Gustave.

The production will begin rehearsals in London Jan. 4, 2010, though principals Karimloo and Boggess have already participated in several earlier workshops. Karimloo starred in the original presentation at Lloyd Webber's private Sydmonton Festival two years ago; and both have subsequently participated in workshops in October 2008, in January 2009, and a recent three-week technical rehearsal period, as well as participating in the recording of the album.

Karimloo will create the role of The Phantom in Love Never Dies, after previously playing the same role in the West End for the last two years. He previously covered the role, and has also played Raoul in the production, as well as the role of Christine's Father in Joel Schumacher's 2004 film version of "The Phantom of the Opera", making him the only actor to have played all three of Christine's loves. His other stage credits include starring as Enjolras in Les Miserables in the West End, Chris in the U.K. tour of Miss Saigon, and Artie Green in the U.K. tour of Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard.

Boggess will make her West End debut in Love Never Dies, creating the role of Christine, which she has previously played in the original special Las Vegas edition of Phantom entitled Phantom – the Las Vegas Spectacular in 2007. She made her Broadway debut in 2007, creating the lead role of Ariel in Disney's stage version of The Little Mermaid. She has previously also understudied the role of Cosette in the Broadway national tour of Les Miserables.

The show is directed by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, currently represented together in the West End fulfilling the same duties on Hairspray. O'Brien has previously directed His Girl Friday at London's National Theatre in 2003. He has won Tony Awards for his Broadway productions of Stoppard's The Coast of Utopia and Henry IV, as well as Hairspray. Other Broadway productions include Stoppard's The Invention of Love, The Full Monty (which he subsequently recreated in the West End), Damn Yankees and The Little Foxes, and operas including Street Scene at New York City Opera and Il Triticco, which he will direct for New York's Metropolitan Opera later this year. Mitchell, who made his Broadway directorial debut with Legally Blonde and will be heading up the creative team to bring it to London's Savoy Theatre in December 2009, has also choreographed Broadway revivals of The Rocky Horror Show in 2000, Gypsy in 2003 and La Cage aux Folles in 2004, as well as The Full Monty in 2000 and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in 2005.

Sets and costumes are designed by Bob Crowley (currently represented on Broadway by his Tony-winning sets for Mary Poppins, and who has previously worked with O'Brien on The Coast of Utopia, winning the Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Play, and The Invention of Love).

Auditions are also underway for the leading role of Gustave, a boy soprano role aged 10-12 years old. The character is the young son of Christine Daaé and her husband Raoul, Victome de Chagny.

According to the official website for the musical, "Love Never Dies continues the story of The Phantom, who has moved from his lair in the Paris Opera House to haunt the fairgrounds of Coney Island, far across the Atlantic. Set 10 years after the mysterious disappearance of 'The Phantom' from Paris, this show is a rollercoaster ride of obsession and intrigue...in which music and memory can play cruel tricks...and 'The Phantom' sets out to prove that, indeed, “Love Never Dies."

It will be possible for London theatregoers to see the whole Phantom story in a single day, by attending the matinees of The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre on Tuesday or Saturday afternoons, and the evening performances of Love Never Dies on those evenings.

Performances in London at the Adelphi Theatre will be Mondays - Saturdays at 7:30 PM, with Wednesday and Saturday matinees at 2:30 PM. Tickets, priced from £25.00–£67.50, are available from the Adelphi Theatre Box Office by calling 0844 412 4651 or online at www.loveneverdies.com.