Lloyd Webber Casts Ben Lewis and Anna O'Byrne in Australian Love Never Dies

News   Lloyd Webber Casts Ben Lewis and Anna O'Byrne in Australian Love Never Dies
Ben Lewis and Anna O’Byrne will star as the Phantom and Christine, respectively, in the Australian premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies, the dark sequel to the hit musical The Phantom of the Opera. The newly envisioned production will premiere at the Regent Theatre in Melbourne in late spring.

Anna O'Byrne and Ben Lewis
Anna O'Byrne and Ben Lewis

Lewis, who appeared in the original Australian casts of Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Spamalot, will step into the iconic role of the masked musician, opposite O'Byrne as soprano Christine Daaé. O'Byrne previously played the role in an Australian tour of The Phantom of the Opera.

During the Jan. 31 press event in Melbourne, Lewis performed the Phantom's "'Til I Hear You Sing," and O'Byrne sang the title song from the musical. The London production stars Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess, both of whom were originally announced to repeat their work on Broadway. The New York bow of Love Never Dies has been indefinitely postponed following mixed critical response to the musical.

Additional casting is expected shortly.

As previously reported, Priscilla Queen of the Desert director Simon Phillips will direct Love Never Dies, which will bow in Melbourne with a new creative team and altered dramatic structure. Fixes to the book, which were implemented in the West End production last fall, are to be incorporated. Phantom lyricist Charles Hart is also credited with additional lyrics for the latest incarnation of the sequel.

Performances will begin May 29 in Melbourne. Love Never Dies is currently booking through July 24 at the Regent Theatre. Love Never Dies will have choreography by renowned choreographer and former Sydney Dance Company artistic director Graeme Murphy. Gabriela Tylesova will render new set and costume designs for Love Never Dies. The production will have 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) will serve as musical supervisor.

"I’ve already begun developing a design with Gabriela Tylesova, hoping to do with the razzamatazz of Coney Island what Maria Bjornson’s iconic Phantom designs did with the opulence of the Paris Opera, and I can’t wait to start the search for the formidable talents required to do justice to the score!," Philips said in a previous statement.

The original London production of Love Never Dies, currently playing the Adelphi Theatre, was directed by Tony Award winner Jack O'Brien and has choreography by Tony winner Jerry Mitchell. Bob Crowley rendered the original West End production designs.

Love Never Dies has a score by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Glenn Slater (Sister Act, The Little Mermaid). The book is by Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton and Slater. O'Brien was previously credited as having made contributions to the book. Both he and Mitchell have departed the project and are at work on their new Broadway musical Catch Me If You Can.

Australia has always been part of the international plan for Love Never Dies, which premiered in London in winter 2010. However, critics were cool on the lushly scored musical that follows the Phantom and Christine to Coney Island ten years after the original production ends its tale. The musical was to premiere on Broadway in November 2010 but has since delayed its arrival.

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