December 26, 2017
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Theater review: ‘Phantom of the Opera’ sequel an overblown tearjerker
The musical, “Love Never Dies,” playing this week at the Providence Performing Arts Center, finds Christine of the golden voice once again in the clutches of the Phantom, but this time in a Coney Island crawling with Fellini-like freaks.
Andrew Lloyd Webber should have quit while he was ahead. For his much touted sequel to “Phantom of the Opera,” playing this week at the Providence Performing Arts Center, is an embarrassment, an overblown tearjerker whose tawdry finale is just too painful to watch.
The musical, “Love Never Dies,” which is close to three hours, finds Christine of the golden voice once again in the clutches of the Phantom, but this time in a Coney Island crawling with Fellini-like freaks. In fact, large chunks of this show that’s big on spectacle is devoted to flashing lights, little people and fog-enveloped sets, all of which could be edited to give more thrust to a plot that could have been told in 15 minutes.
So Christine and her loser husband and son come to New York under the guise of performing Oscar Hammerstein. But it’s clear, she’s being lured there by the Phantom, who for some reason can’t get on with his pathetic life without putting Christine on stage.
But it takes forever for the plot to thicken. It’s not until the second act, when the rivalry between Phantom, played by Gardar Thor Cortes, and husband Raoul, comes into focus.
Then we are assaulted by more circus antics, and the momentum dies.
But Meghan Picerno’s Christine finally gets her moment in the spotlight, when she sings her signature aria “Love Never Dies,” which would have made Puccini blush. She’s flanked by the Phantom and her husband, who does his best to make amends for being a cad.
But somehow Christine can’t break the spell she has with the Phantom, and the show completely unravels into a contemporary remake of every sentimental 19th-century opera that ends with tears and cheap histrionics.