Director: Simon Phillips
Set & Costume Designer: Gabriela Tylesova
Cast: Ben lewis, Anna O’Byrne, Maria Mercedes, Simon Gleeson, Sharon Millerchip, Emma J Hawkins, Paul Tabone, and Dean Vince.
Performance Date: January 13th, 2012
Sydney Season: January – April 2012
I know Love Never Dies isn’t exactly what you would consider geeky, but musical theatre is quickly becoming a niche market, and besides, not all of the films reviewed on this site fall into the action, adventure, sci-fi, comic, or fantasy genres.
Love Never Dies is the sequel to the wonderful show, Phantom of the Opera (which is my favourite musical that doesn’t involve animals). It is set in America, 10 years after the original story, and “follows on” from the original. Well, it is supposed to. As far as I’m concerned it reneged on the ending of the original. As Film Nerd said in his review of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, it is difficult to tread the fine line of sequel brilliance.
I can understand the Phantom’s [Ben Lewis] love for Christine [Anna O’Byrne] never dying, that’s true obsession, but she chose another man, Raoul [Simon Gleeson], and feared (if not greatly respected) the Phantom. She loved his musical genius, she did not love him. But suddenly, she left only because she thought him dead, and actually loved him all along? There is nothing worse than taking a great production that works well on its own, and saying: you know what, what if we change that really important ending and the motives behind each of the characters, and the characters themselves (I am aware that a character grows and changes in ten years’ time. I am referring to changing who they were in the original for the sake of the sequel). Surprise surprise, she must again choose between the Phantom and Raoul. I won’t tell you who she chooses, but let’s just say I am gravely disappointed by the way this show ended. The only new element was Christine’s 10 year old son, Gustave. I won’t speak more on that.
That’s the story, now on to the performers. Lead male Ben Lewis was wonderful. He had a strong singing voice, both hard and emotional as the time called, and his acting was fitting for a production such as this. Lead female Anna O’Byrne however, I was less impressed with. Her voice was beautiful. That is her strength. But I found her acting to be subpar, along with most of the rest of the cast. The true highlight for me was Sharon Millerchip. She played Meg, and did it so well. Her singing was amazing and her acting equally. Granted, this could have just been a low night for the performers, but their singing voices were still of a high quality. None more so than the young star who played Gustave. Unfortunately I do not know what boy played him the night we saw it, as there are four who do so with this production group. His acting wasn’t exactly there yet, but what he lacks in experience he makes up for in voice. This boy has a fantastic voice, and good control. I hope he continues his career and wish him the best of luck as he improves in the future.
All in all, if it was a standalone production and not about the Phantom, it would make sense. Two lovers reunited after 10 years; one thought dead, thus the other married another and gave birth to a child; choices must be made. (Did anyone think that Christine and the Phantom were lovers in the original production? Am I the only one who took it as a genius teacher who obsessed over his protégé?). If you haven’t seen the first, this would be good. The set design and transitions were imaginative and done with such flair, and the costumes were equally great. There was a little issue with lights throughout the show, but the music was nothing short of magnificent, as would be expected. The acting I was unimpressed with, but the singing was absolutely amazing. I won’t tell you to go and see it, but don’t let me stop you. You may find that you have a much better time than I did.
On a side note, if creepy carnivals freak you out, go with someone who will hold your hand…