London Evening Standard
May 6, 2011
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Bitterness lives on over Love Never Dies
There is clearly no love lost between Lord Lloyd-Webber and Jack O’Brien, the original director of his show Love Never Dies, the beleaguered sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, the most successful musical of all time.
Love Never Dies opened in March last year to a resounding critical whimper and was nicknamed Paint Never Dries by its detractors. Lord Lloyd-Webber decided to close the show after a few months amid declining ticket sales and let O’Brien go.
Soon after he successfully brought in impresario Bill Kenwright and choreographer Bill Deamer to revamp the entire production. But O’Brien — a Broadway veteran who directed the acclaimed 2007 Big Apple staging of Tom Stoppard’s trilogy The Coast of Utopia — is not going quietly. “It did not end happily,” O’Brien tells me in New York of his collaboration with Lord Lloyd-Webber. “I found Andrew Lloyd Webber impossible to work with. It’s either his way or there’s no way.”
O’Brien adds that his own take on Love Never Dies was imperfect. Why did he not make it how he wished? “He would not let me. I’m finished with it.”Earlier this year, Lord Lloyd-Webber said of his sequel: “It’s completely transformed ... Bill has given me the most fantastic blueprint for it now to be got right around the world.”
A Broadway transfer for Love Never Dies, mooted for the Neil Simon Theatre, scheduled for last November and this spring, has been delayed. Will Love Never Dies ever come to Manhattan? Replies O’Brien: “Over my dead body.”