The Undying Love of The Phantom of the Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies

Fans of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera” have a chance to relive the magic with the sequel “Love Never Dies.” More than 30 years ago, Webber’s musical adaptation of the French novel by Gaston Leroux hit the stage and its popularity has not waned since. It is still performed live across the globe. There was also a 2004 film version starring Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum in the lead roles. For those who wondered whatever happened to the characters, here’s your chance to find out.

I attended a performance of “Love Never Dies” at the Segerstrom Center of the Arts in Costa Mesa, California. Although I won’t offer any spoilers (I hate having a good plot ruined), I will hint at some of the action that can be expected.

Curtain Call

The follow-up story resurrects the tortuous love triangle between The Phantom (Gardar Thor Cortes), Christine Daaé (Meghan Picerno) and Raoul (Sean Thompson). It takes place in 1907 on Coney Island in New York where The Phantom has moved his troupe and transformed it into a carnival freak show. Christine, Raoul and their son Gustave (Christian Harmston and Jake Heston Miller) have arrived under the pretense that she is to meet with Oscar Hammerstein regarding her debut performance in America. They have no idea that The Phantom is alive and that he has arranged for Christine to sing at his theatre Phantasma.

The Segerstrom Center for the Arts program cover for "Love Never Dies"
The Segerstrom Center for the Arts program cover for “Love Never Dies”

Raoul, who has gambled away his family’s money and become a drunk, is displeased that his wife is to sing for The Phantom once more. Christine is caught between her feelings of anger and love for the masked man that bewitched her all those years ago. Plot twists populate the narrative, one centering on the son Gustave and his connection with The Phantom. What transpires is a dark tale of passion and betrayal, and a conclusion I didn’t see coming.

In addition to a story that draws you in, the stage sets are mesmerizing! The scenery evokes the shadowy world of a carnival freak show. My favorite scenes were of Phantasma when circus lights, acrobats, mist and haunting melodies overtook the platform.

The Phantom and Christine Daaé in "Love Never Dies" (Photo by Joan Marcus)
The Phantom and Christine Daaé in “Love Never Dies” (Photo by Joan Marcus)

The music is of course a vital part and there could be no show without it. Andrew Lloyd Webber composed the pieces and lyrics are by Glenn Slater. Although I’m not a professional musician, having studied music as an undergrad, I tend to pay close attention when performers sing. Tenor Gardar Thor Cortes who plays The Phantom does a fantastic job captivating the audience with his voice. Soprano Meghan Picerno is entrancing as Christine. Her numbers are the highlight of the musical and she sounds pristine! The piece “Love Never Dies” showcases her incredible vocal range and is the heart of the production.

Attend a live performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Love Never Dies"
Attend a live performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Love Never Dies”

Andrew Lloyd Webber has commented that this new production is not strictly a sequel, so it’s not necessary to see “The Phantom of the Opera” to understand the story.  “Love Never Dies” is currently touring North America with shows lined up through September 2018. For information on tour dates and tickets, visit the official website.

Has anyone out there seen or want to see either “The Phantom of the Opera” or “Love Never Dies?” Let me know in the comments below!      

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