Time Out London

January 5, 2011

Nina Caplan

Link to actual article

 

Love Never Dies - Version 2.0

 

Looked at one way, 'The Phantom of the Opera' is simply an extreme melodramatisation of one woman's work/life dilemma: should pretty, flighty singer Christine stay with her mentor the Phantom, who will make her great but might not be much of a homemaker, or go traditional and marry Viscount Raoul?

This being the 1880s, she goes with the title, but has a lot of fun dithering; ten years on, when 'Love Never Dies' opens, the quandary hasn't changed but the men have, and not for the better. There's a lot to be said for a choice between a mysterious, disfigured genius and a handsome aristo; now Christine, whisked off to Coney Island with dipso husband and irritating soprano son, has to choose between a lush and a neurotic fairground-attraction owner, both suffering from severe self-esteem issues.

'Love Never Dies' has seen some frantic revamping of late, presumably in preparation for the Broadway opening (hence this second review), but despite some improvements, the new mask does little to hide the ugliness beneath; the problems are integral. There's no mystery - indeed, now the first person we see onstage is the Phantom - and no Andrew Lloyd Webber tunes to match such delights as 'The Music of the Night', although there are tantalising trickles of the original melodies.

The special effects are nifty and the art deco scenery lush if anachronistic, but the lyrics (by Glenn Slater, now tweaked by the original's Charles Hart) are terrible and the story (a hotchpotch from Webber, Ben Elton, Slater and Frederick Forsyth) simply silly.

Ramim Karimloo as the Phantom and Sierra Boggess as Christine both have lovely voices, but they aren't given anything to say. The producers really have exchanged the Paris Opera for an American theme park, and the swap is not a happy one.


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