New York Post
September 1, 2010
Link to actual article
No ‘Love’ lost on Broadway
With a worldwide gross of more than $5 billion, Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera" is the most successful theatrical venture in showbiz history.
Which means it can pay for some of Lloyd Webber's misfires -- such as "Love Never Dies," the "Phantom" sequel that's better (and more aptly) known by its affectionate nickname, "Paint Never Dries."
"Paint," which is running in London, was supposed to open on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre this season. But due to poor reviews, feuding among the creators and Lloyd Webber's health (he fought prostate cancer last year and has suffered side effects), the show was postponed "indefinitely."
In the theater, "indefinitely" has a way of becoming "absolutely not gonna happen" -- and that, London theater sources say, is what's happened to "Paint."
The $15 million London production, which was directed by Broadway vets Jack O'Brien and Jerry Mitchell, will not be seen in New York.
O'Brien and Mitchell are parting ways with Lloyd Webber. They've either been pushed or jumped, depending on which side you talk to, and now it's just a matter of working out a severance package.
"Watch this one closely -- it could get really nasty," says a source, adding that Lloyd Webber blames O'Brien and Mitchell for the trouble the show's had in London and is not in a mood to pay them gobs of money to go away.
But they're said to be salivating after a Patti LuPone-size exit package.
Lloyd Webber forked over $1 million when he shoved her from the Broadway production of "Sunset Boulevard" in 1994. She used the money, she writes in her new memoir, to build a pool on her estate in Connecticut.
She dubbed it the "Andrew Lloyd Webber Memorial Pool."
O'Brien already has a pool at his place in Connecticut -- but I'm told he'd like a bocce court.
"Whatever they wind up with, they earned it," says a source in their camp. "Andrew would summon them at a moment's notice and expect them to drop everything, get on a plane -- first-class, but still! -- and meet him wherever he was in the world to work on the show. They did it, frankly, for the money."
The previews in London last winter were a nightmare, sources say. O'Brien would tell the cast to do one thing and then Lloyd Webber would sweep in with his army of sycophants and tell them to do the opposite.
"It was Jack and Jerry against Andrew Lloyd Webber Inc.," a source says.
It did not help matters when O'Brien read in my column a few months ago that Lloyd Webber met with Hal Prince, the director of "Phantom," and asked him to take over the show for New York.
O'Brien and Mitchell may not be the only ones departing ALW Inc. I also hear that Andre Ptaszynski, who runs the empire, may be out in June.
He'll probably get a pool and a bocce court!
None of this means, however, that Lloyd Webber has given up on "Paint." He's proud of his score, which I think is quite good, and he's going to try to salvage it.
His plan, sources say, is to create from scratch two new productions of "Paint" -- one in Australia, the other in Toronto.
Each will have its own creative team. In Toronto, the show will be directed by Craig Revel Horwood, who staged a stripped-down version of "Sunset Boulevard" a few years ago in England that Lloyd Webber loved.
No word yet on who'll stage the Australian version.
Lloyd Webber will choose the stronger of the two productions and bring that one to New York at some point.
This is the kind of scheme -- expensive, theatrical, preposterous, harebrained -- that's earned Lloyd Webber his own nickname: Lord Bonkers.