Andrew Lloyd Webber is adamant that Love Never Dies, which returns to the story of The Phantom Of The Opera 10 years after events at the Paris Opera House, is not simply a sequel to his incredibly successful musical.
Speaking at the launch of his new show, which will open at the Adelphi theatre in March 2010, the composer and impresario said: “I regard this as a completely stand alone piece. When we began to talk about it again, I thought there was unfinished business. I thought the end of [The Phantom Of The Opera], it’s enigmatic to put it mildly. I thought it would be great to come back particularly to the character of Christine, that’s really where I started, but I really would not be sitting here now if I didn’t think it was a great story. It would be boring to just approach this as a sequel. I thought this was two really interesting characters who I particularly enjoyed writing for, but in a completely different context.”
Director Jack O’Brien agreed as he discussed his eagerness to sink his teeth into the meaty project: “This is not necessarily a continuum and it is not necessarily the story you think you might hear. The gestation period [for Love Never Dies] has been longer than the elephant and it has been turned down by himself at least two or three times. Obviously he felt he wasn’t through writing this glorious music that no-one else seems to be writing. I don’t know if you feel as I do, I’m sort of hungry for a nice big steak; we’ve been subsisting on cocktail napkins.”
Love Never Dies picks up the story a decade after the Phantom’s murderous reign in the French capital, when he has moved to America’s Coney Island, the fairground and amusement wonderland of the early 20th century.
Lloyd Webber, who admitted he would have loved to have visited the setting for his new show, described it as “exotic and slightly sinister and slightly macabre and yet extraordinary and fabulous”; the perfect place for the Phantom to hide in the open among the freak shows and carnival atmosphere.
The composer also confirmed that though his 30-strong company of on-stage performers, led by Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess and Summer Strallen, would perform a piece which shares characters with his original – in addition to the Phantom and Christine, Madame Giry, Meg and Raoul are all featured – it would not feature any of the same music. Love Never Dies, he said, would also include a strong circus element in keeping with its Coney Island setting.
While the cast and creative team alike were excited about the project, which is already being hailed as one of the biggest theatrical openings of 2010, O’Brien included a note of caution about the expectations surrounding a show following in the footsteps of one of the most loved and successful musicals of all time: “No-one’s going to thank us for doing this. We’re playing around with people’s memories. We’re playing around with aspects of their imaginations that are sacrosanct. We’d better know what we’re doing.”