The lushly scored sequel to Phantom traces the relationship of the Phantom and soprano Christine from Paris to Coney Island, where old romances continue to smolder as other loves and friendships shatter.
Love Never Dies first opened in London in March 2010 under the direction of Tony winner Jack O'Brien with choreography by Tony winner Jerry Mitchell. Critics weren't enchanted with the production, which underwent rewrites a few months into its London run. It closed Aug. 27, 2011, at the Adelphi Theatre. A Broadway production, announced for the Neil Simon Theatre, was indefinitely postponed.
While the London production was still running, Lloyd Webber gave his blessing for a new Australian creative team to take a fresh look at Love Never Dies, which now takes a darker, more menacing approach to the physical production.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert director Simon Phillips staged the Coney Island-set sequel, which first premiered at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne in spring 2011. Love Never Dies officially opened in Sydney Jan. 12.
The Australian production was also filmed during its Melbourne run. It was recently broadcast in cinemas across the U.S. and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray May 29. No official plans for a U.S. production of Love Never Dies have been announced, but Lloyd Webber is reported to be hopeful that the musical may materialize as a national tour prior to a Broadway bow.
Love Never Dies has a score by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tony nominee Glenn Slater ( Sister Act, The Little Mermaid). The book is by Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton and Slater. Phantom lyricist Charles Hart is also credited with additional lyrics for the latest incarnation of the sequel.
Ben Lewis, who appeared in the original Australian casts of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Spamalot, stars as the Phantom, opposite Anna O'Byrne as soprano Christine Daaé. O'Byrne previously played the role in an Australian tour of The Phantom of the Opera.
Sharon Miller Chip, who originated the role of young ballerina Meg Giry in the Australian premiere of Phantom, and returns to the role for the sequel; which also featured Simon Gleeson as Raoul; and Maria Mercedes as Madame Giry.
The cast also includes Emma J. Hawkins as Fleck, Paul Tabone as Squelch and Dean Vince as Gangle. Rotating in the role of Gustav are Ky Baldwin, George Cartwright, Tyron Geany and Jack Lyall.
Completing the ensemble are Andrew Broadbent, Renee Burleigh, Colin Dean, Andrew Dunne, Giordano Gangl, Stephanie Grigg, Erin Hasan, Matt Holly, Ben Hudson, Erin James, Adele Johnston, Claire Lyon, Kristy Mackenzie, Matthew McFarlane, Jessica Mechielsen, Meredith O'Reilly, Adam Rennie, Lisa Reynolds, Pharic Scott, Kathryn Sgroi, Ellen Simpson, Tod Strike and Brendan Yeates.
Love Never Dies has choreography by Graeme Murphy, with new set and costume designs by Gabriela Tylesova. The production has lighting by Nick Schlieper ( War of the Roses, Priscilla Queen of the Desert), with original London sound designer Mick Potter and orchestrator David Cullen also on board. Guy Simpson ( The Phantom of the Opera) serves as musical supervisor.
Set ten years after the conclusion of The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies follows soprano Christine Daae to New York's Coney Island, where she is invited to perform for the mysterious Mr. Y. Characters from her past begin to emerge, including one with whom she shares a dark secret.