The LSD Team, including Mr. & Mrs. Timmons have issued statements regarding the below article. These statements can be read here
June 12, 2010
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Unmasked: the fans haunting the Phantom sequel
Even before its official opening night, theatre websites were flooded with negative comments. A Facebook group was set up to denounce the "trainwreck of a show", and false rumours began spreading of its imminent demise.
Yet the show is playing to packed houses and standing ovations each night at the Adelphi Theatre, leaving the producers baffled by the online vitriol.
Now an explanation has emerged. Investigations have revealed that the negative postings are part of an orchestrated hate campaign run by a handful of obsessive Phantom fans who believe Lord Lloyd Webber should have left the original alone.
The architects of the campaign are a husband and wife, Jeff and Rebecca Timmons, who live in Canada. They are die-hard fans - or 'Phans', as they prefer to be known.
Their website, www.loveshoulddie.com, has its own 1,300-member Facebook group and Twitter page, and an online shop selling anti-Love Never Dies merchandise. A link to Love Should Die has appeared on no less than 4,000 other websites, often placed in the comments section of legitimate theatre sites.
The couple spent last weekend handing out flyers outside a Phantom production in Michigan, warning about the "travesty" of the new show which opened in March.
Moreover, the Timmons have never seen Love Never Dies. "You don't need to see Love Never Dies to feel this way. If I were to see the show, not only would I be wasting my time and my money, but it would make me so angry," said Mr Timmons, 29.
He has seen Phantom 126 times. "My life has been Phantom. My wife and I met at Phantom. We developed a relationship through Phantom. We had a Phantom-themed wedding. Rebecca dressed as Christine and I was the Phantom, but it was much more than that. We had fog and a church organ playing the title song. The wedding was hugely popular with Phans. It was a big thing to us.
"Each time we hear the words 'Love Never Dies' and the story behind it, it feels like we're getting slapped in the face by Lloyd Webber and his creative team."
Speaking from the couple's home in Toronto, Mr Timmons explained his animosity towards the sequel, which is set in Coney Island, New York.
"Why would you want to mess with perfection? The idea for this sequel is ludicrous. The Phantom moves from Paris to Coney Island? From opera to vaudeville trash? The original Phantom was upset, angry, he had temper issues - reading the script, it seems like he's now a nice, gentle man. It doesn't make sense."
Her [sic] dismissed the positive reception from audiences at the Adelphi. "It's built into the psyche of a theatre audience to give a standing ovation for anything that's big. It means nothing to me."
Mr Timmons is pictured on the Facebook site handing out flyers outside a Phantom show, wearing a Love Should Die T-shirt.
He said: "A lot of audience members were stopping me and asking, 'Is this a joke?' They didn't believe Lloyd Webber had made a sequel. When we told them, people's jaws were dropping. One girl was crying and her mum was comforting her and saying it couldn't be right."
The couple initially denied founding Love Should Die - which is administered by an anonymous character called "The Real Phantom" - saying they are only supporters. However, the website is registered to them.
Mrs Timmons, 30, said: "The intention of the Love Should Die group was never to shut down the production. Phans were simply fed up with hearing Lloyd Webber state that we 'couldn't wait for the sequel'. For a very large number of us, that simply isn't true."
Unfortunately for the producers, the campaign appears to have had some effect. Love Never Dies needs to sell £40 million worth of tickets in its first year to break even. Currently, takings are 20 per cent below that estimate. Love Should Die campaigners ultimately hope to stop the show opening on Broadway next year.
André Ptaszynski, chief executive of the Really Useful Group and the show's producer, said: "Love Never Dies has been extremely well received by the audiences with a standing ovation every evening, but its success has not been helped by the hostile internet campaign.
"Of course, we appreciate the fantastic support and loyalty that so many fans of the Phantom of the Opera have shown over the years. We would like to thank them for their contribution to the worldwide success of the original show and we'd love them to continue supporting it.
"However, we are disappointed that a group of them have become part of what appears to be an organised internet campaign in North America and Europe to smear Love Never Dies. They are creating the illusion that audiences aren't enjoying the show, yet we know that the vast majority of audiences that flock to see the show at the Adelphi love it.
"It is an unfortunate use of the internet when it is used to damage any show, especially when many of those involved do not seem to have seen the show they write about."
This is not the first time that music fans have made their presence felt on the web. In December, rap metal band Rage Against The Machine beat Simon Cowell's X Factor act to the Christmas number one as the result of a campaign on Facebook.
The LSD Team, including Mr. & Mrs. Timmons have issued statements regarding the above article. These statements can be read here.