ABC News - Australia
October 15, 2010
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Phantom fans say Love Should Die
Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to Phantom Of The Opera may not be the cash cow the Victorian Government had hoped for Melbourne, after it was dropped from Broadway and received scathing reviews in London.
Victoria is paying to bring Webber's Love Never Dies to Melbourne, where it will show at the Regent Theatre from May 2011.
But the production was delayed twice from its Broadway debut, then eventually dropped all together, and has been panned by critics in the US and London where it played at the Adelphi Theatre.
So the Victorian Government's decision to bring it to Melbourne has left some wondering why taxpayers should fund a stage show that no-one else wants.
When making the announcement, Victorian Government Minister Tim Holding said the production could add millions of dollars to Melbourne's economy.
"Over the last four years, blockbuster theatre shows such as Wicked, Jersey Boys and, currently, Mary Poppins have drawn hundreds of thousands of interstate and overseas visitors to Melbourne ensuring that our hotels, restaurants and famous retail precincts are busy throughout the year," he said.
"Securing the Australian premiere of Love Never Dies strengthens Melbourne's position as the theatre capital of Australia."
The script for Love Never Dies was written by British author Ben Elton and the Australian production will be revamped - led by Simon Phillips and choreographed by Graeme Murphy.
Phillips told The Age that the changes will boost the production's chances of succeeding in Australia.
"There are significant changes to the plot ... This makes it shorter with the longueurs chopped and allows the show to cut to the chase," he said.
But the existence of Love Never Dies has outraged some Phantom Of The Opera fans so much that they have created an anti-sequel group called Love Should Die (LSD).
One LSD member - who wishes to remain anonymous to avoid being harassed by fans of the sequel - cannot believe the Government has paid to bring it here.
"I'm appalled, I really am. It hasn't been stated how much money the Government is spending but I'm assuming it's a fair amount and I just can't believe they haven't looked into this properly before saying they'd fund it," she said.
"To me they couldn't have, because they would have seen that it's not doing any good in England, it was to open in America and it's not doing that now, so we're just going to be another experiment with it opening here.
"They're going to change some or all of the story to make it better; now if they have to do that to a musical isn't that telling the Government something? I just don't get why they haven't looked into it properly and thought 'no, our money can go better elsewhere'."
She describes the sequel as a "complete contradiction" to Phantom Of The Opera.
"It goes against everything that the first musical was. I wasn't against the idea of a sequel, I just thought it didn't need one in some ways because it had an ending and everyone who sees it goes away with their own views on how it ended, or what might have happened," she said.
"With the sequel, it comes along and tells you how it ended and it's just wrong in every way. The characters are wrong; the Phantom is now this namby-pamby person, Raoul's a drunk and a gambler, Christine's a whore, Meg's a killer - it's just ridiculous.
"I do realise people's lives can change in 10 years but this storyline is like a really bad fan fiction and it's just wrong.
"To me it's like Webber had this goal where he wanted to do a sequel regardless and just went bang, bang, bang there you go."
The Australian's theatre critic, Alice Croggon, says it is a mystery why the Victorian Government chose Love Never Dies after its poor track record overseas.
"It's good that the Victorian Government is interested in bringing productions like this to Melbourne and I don't want to criticise their enthusiasm for making Melbourne a cultural destination, which is what this is all about; bringing tourists in and big commercial events," she said.
"[But] it's slightly baffling that they've chosen this production though, it has to be admitted.
"Some of the English reviews have been hilarious. The West End Whingers christened it 'Paint Never Dries' and they weren't alone. It got pretty consistently bad reviews and not just from the critics.
"Online there were Phantom Of The Opera fans who [posted] hundreds of pages of mainly negative responses to the opera, which isn't such a good thing. So it certainly hasn't gone down especially well."
Mr Holding's office did not return ABC News Online's calls.