Making a sequel to a beloved production is always fraught with dangers. Such was the idea for Andrew Lloyd Webber to continue his most well known work. The results are certainly no Phantom, but maybe should not be consigned to the Paris sewers.
It’s 1907 and ten years have passed since the events in the sewers beneath the Paris Opera House. The Phantom (Ben Lewis) still pines to hear the voice of Christine (Anna O’Byrne). He was spirited away to America with Madame Giry (Maria Mercedes) and her daughter Meg (Sharon Millerchip) and has set up a show on Coney Island that Meg is the star attraction of.
However, he hears that Christine is on her way to New York, with her husband Raoul (Simon Gleeson) and son Gustave (Jack Lyall), to sing for Oscar Hammerstein. So the Phantom puts a plan into motion to lure Christine to Coney Island to sing for him once again.
Sequels are a tricky thing. Some will long for a return of favorite characters, but other times they’re seen as a cash grab and just a chance to remake the first film. The sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera has had a long gestation.
Originally coming about as an idea in the 1990s (that resulted in a novel called Phantom of Manhattan in 1999), the actual stage version wouldn’t open until 2010 and was met with critical and fan disapproval.
Some fans called it Paint Never Dries or openly wanted Love to finally give it up and die. The show was closed and eventually transferred to Melbourne in a version that seemed to improve on the London one.
The cast of the Melbourne show is what you see in this filmed version. I can’t say that Love Never Dies ever soars to the gothic heights of Phantom, but I did end up liking it. There are some troubles though as I recall the romance of Christine and the Phantom being more chaste than events would leave us believe.
That and a very quick turn to madness by another character that seemed more plot machination. We also learn that love may not die, but lovers often do. The music is good but not memorable.
I know that “Love Never Dies” is set up as a “Music of the Night” style crowd pleaser, but at the moment I can’t remember a lyric of it. Although the set piece that O’Byrne performs it against is quiet nice. The cast does have fun with it and I can’t fault them. The circus/sideshow setting is also very nice and allows some grand, dark set pieces.
I wouldn’t say Paint Never Dries, but it never really rises to the level that Phantom did (not that I was expecting it to). Your enjoyment may depend on getting lost in the set pieces and music and not trying to connect the characters you see to that iconic earlier show.
Love Never Dies is presented in a 1080p transfer (1.78:1). The only special feature, in high definition, is the 14 minute making of.
Love Never Dies is not exactly a failure, but I don’t know that die hard Phantom fans will like the way that the characters are drawn. The music is very good, but nothing hooked me like the original did. I never hated it enough to say die, but some might.
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