Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies has large shoes to fill as the sequel of the critically acclaimed Phantom of the Opera. Picking up ten years after the resolution of Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies introduces new conflicts and new characters to the longstanding classic tale of The Phantom, Christine and Raoul.
Phantom of the Opera ended with Christine, a beautiful opera singer, choosing to marry Raoul, an established vicomte, instead of The Phantom, a deformed man named Erik who was deeply entranced by Christine. Fast forwarding, Love Never Dies opens with The Phantom mulling over the ten years he has spent isolated and in agony on Cooney Island, a dark, mysterious world of freak shows and joy rides he created in Christine’s absence.
The Phantom’s intentions of meeting Christine again are revealed in his powerful solo “Til I Hear You Sing.” The scene then flips over to a brighter, lighter side as the character of Meg Giry, Christine’s longtime friend, is introduced.
The musical develops slowly at this point, building a foundation for those unfamiliar with Phantom of the Opera. The audience gains insights into Meg’s unrequited love for The Phantom, as well as The Phantom’s own inner struggles such as his loathing of his physical, deformed being and constant battle to overcome his evil tendencies.
By the middle of Act One, the audience begins to see how the musical will truly unfold. Christine is lured to Cooney Island, unaware of The Phantom, in promises of earning money for one last opera. At this point, it becomes apparent that Raoul has become a gambler and a drunk, unable to provide for Christine and their ten year old son. The play pulls on subtle imagery, such as Christine’s brilliant white dress and Raoul’s darker clothing to emphasize the increasing contrasts between the two characters.
In one of the most memorable songs of the musical, The Phantom reveals his master plans to Christine with a duet in “Beneath a Moonless Sky.” Contrasting vocals between Christine’s sweet, high voice and The Phantom’s deep, rich voice create an intimate and resonating scene.
Love Never Dies is an absolutely captivating, beautifully made addition to The Phantom of the Opera. Each and every song in the musical was performed with breath-taking high notes and a pleasing harmonious balance. In particular, the namesake of the play, Christine’s solo of “Love Never Dies,” is a triumph of the soprano voice, able to silence an entire theater.
Although die-hard fans of the original play may struggle with the surprising twists in the story, Love Never Dies is a masterpiece that can stand alone as a poignant tale of love and loss and deserves recognition as one of the greatest musicals of the decade.