Review: Andrew Lloyd Webber’ Love Never Dies, The Shows Must Go On

  • Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies is streamed on YouTube for 48 hours from 7pm on April 23, 2020.

  • Love Never Dies stars Ben Lewis as The Phantom and Anna O’Byrne as Christine.

  • The Production was filmed at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre in 2012.

Love Never Dies is the fourth show in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s series of musicals forming part of The Show’s Must Go On, streamed weekly on YouTube to raise money for nominated charities as theatres remain closed due to the Covid19 pandemic. Previous weeks have featured screenings of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Phantom of The Opera.

This week’s presentation of Love Never Dies, composed by Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Glenn Slater based on a book by Lloyd Webber, Ben Elton, Frederick Forsyth and Slater was filmed at Melbourne’s Regent Theatre in 2012.

Set in 1905, a decade after the events of Phantom of The Opera, the Phantom has escaped from Paris to New York’s Coney Island. Living amongst joy rides, burlesques and freak shows, The Phantom has created his own domain, Phantasma, where his atmospheric music lives and breathes once again. Accompanied by old allies Madame Giry and her daughter, Meg, The Phantom lures his long-lost love Christine to Phantasma, with the intention of hearing her sing again. However, times have changed, and Christine is now married to The Phantom’s love rival Raoul, and they have a young son, Gustave.

The Phantom Leaves Paris For Coney Island

With gothic operatic echoes of Phantom, Love Never Dies is more of a standalone story than a sequel. The production commences with The Phantom empowered by his music performing Till I Hear You Sing. He quickly steps aside as his fantastic freak show friends, Squelch, Fleck and Gangle join the ensemble for The Coney Island Waltz. Their appearances are purely theatrical, but behind each character you detect an air of personal tragedy as well as sense of inner beauty. The Phantom has found a world where he too can be beautiful with them.

As with Phantom, the conflicting perceptions of beauty and ugliness are brought to the forefront, by the actions of the heart. Anna O’Byrne’s Christine may retain an air of beauty on the surface but is rather cruel with her deceit of The Phantom. Similarly, Simon Gleeson’s Raoul has switched from romantic hero to now seemingly abandoning the love for his wife in favour of alcohol and gambling.

Ben Lewis’ Dramatic Portrayal of The Phantom

The framing of Ben Lewis as The Phantom as he individually confronts Christine and Raoul is not only dramatic but atmospherically in line with high-tension gothic horror. The Phantom’s bargaining and controlling quickly falls to the wayside when he encounters Jack Lyall’s Gustave. In true Lloyd Webber style, Lewis and Lyall break out of 1the constraints of early 20th Century Gothic Opera to perform the fantastical rocker, Beautiful, surrounded by an eclectic parade of freak show performers.

There are many fine operatic performances in Love Never Dies, with Anna O’Byrne commanding attention as Christine with her rendition of the theme song. Miss O’Byrne’s duets with Ben Lewis’s Phantom on Once Upon Another Time and Beneath Another Sky are equally compelling.

Sharon Millerchip’s endearing portrayal of Meg frequently comes into her own. Highlights include her vocal performances alongside Maria Mercedes Madame Giry on Ten Long Years and breaking from the operatic for the wonderfully choreographed ensemble burlesque of Bathing Beauty.

Never short on atmosphere and performed on a rotating set that moves from the gothic elegance of Christine’s room to the fantastical awesomeness of The Phantom’s lair, Love Never Dies is a theatrical experience not to be missed.

  • The online presentation is available to stream for 48 hours from 7pm on April 25, 2020. Donations to nominated charities are invited.

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