Phantom Sequel Love Never Dies Opens in Sydney Jan. 12
By Adam Hetrick
Christine and the Phantom chase romance to turn-of-the-century Coney Island in Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber's lavish sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, which opens Jan. 12 in Sydney after previews that began Jan 8.
After a mixed London reception in 2010, Lloyd Webber gave his blessing for a new Australian creative team to take a fresh look at the lushly scored musical, 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. That production was also filmed for an upcoming international DVD and Blu-ray release May 29. The Sydney engagement of Love Never Dies is on sale through March 25.
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.
The original Melbourne cast makes the Sydney transfer, with the addition of local boy sopranos to take on the role of Gustav.
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.
Joining them are 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; Simon Gleeson as Raoul; and Maria Mercedes as Madame Giry.
The cast also features 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.
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