I have had the pleasure of seeing Love Never Dies at the Adelphi Theatre twice in the last month, both before and after the rewrite. I am going to keep this a spoiler free review so don’t worry for anyone who hasn’t seen the show!
My plot synopsis is courtesy of Wikipedia. “Christine Daaé is invited to perform at Phantasma, a new attraction in Coney Island, by an anonymous impresario and, with her husband Raoul and son Gustave in tow, journeys to Brooklyn, unaware that it is the Phantom who has arranged her appearance in the popular beach resort.”
The first thing I will say is that I do feel the rewrite was needed. I really enjoyed the show the first time I saw it, but I felt the plot was a lot clearer the second time. Sure, there are still a few things that I think could use a little ironing out, but overall I thought the rewrite made a good show a great show.
Sierra Boggess is a beautiful Christine. I will admit that I do already have a soft spot for Ms Boggess after hearing the cast recording from when she played The Little Mermaid on Broadway, but Love Never Dies is a whole different story. She plays Christine older and wiser, but goes weak at the sight of the Phantom. I felt her characterisation was perfect in the role and her vocals stunning, particularly in the title song of the show, Love Never Dies. Both times I have seen this show, the audience have gone wild at the end of this song, and I’m sure it happens every night as her vocals are fantastic.
Having never been someone who is particularly impressed by male vocals, I have to say that Ramin Karimloo blew me away. The opening of the show has changed with the rewrite, and having him open the show with “Til I Hear You Sing” was breathtaking. His voice is perfection in the role of Phantom, who is a very intense character who in my mind needs to have the vocals to match the intensity of the storyline. He plays Phantom fantastically, with the right mix of strange arrogance and the need to be loved and throughout the show you can almost say he is the puppet master – first bringing Christine to Coney Island and then playing her and Raoul against one another to achieve what he wants and has always wanted. I’m not going to say any more as I will ruin it for those who haven’t seen the show.
The show has a fantastic emsemble, led by Niamh Perry (Fleck), Adam Pearce (Squelch) and Jami Reid-Quarrel (Gangle) who appear as delightfully weird “freaks”. Ms Perry in particular impressed me and I found it very difficult not to watch only her as charismatic Fleck.
When I first saw the show I was overwhelmed by the spectacle, but what I did think was that the projection effect was overused throughout the show. What I’m glad to say is that the spectacle remained, but a lot of the projection was lost. I thought this was a great thing because what remains of the projection is enough to make the desired effect without overkill. The music matches the spectacle of the production very well, and I adored “The Coney Island Waltz” and was humming it all night. One part of the show I was completely entranced by, was the scene in which Christine first sees the Phantom. **Little Spoiler**I loved that the music box began to play a melody from the original Phantom just before the Phantom entered. *Spoiler over* What I have understood from reading about this show and the reactions to it, is that a lot of people were disappointed by the lack of repeats of music from Phantom, but I love the score of this musical. I think the choice not to include the original songs was a good thing, as the story is the next chapter of the original story. All the characters have moved on, Christine and Raoul have a son and the Phantom has his shows in Coney Island.
One last thing I want to say before I close this review is – Summer Strallen! Having seen Ms Strallen in the Drowsy Chaperone some years ago, I find that she is one of those performers who are one in a million. When she starts to sing you almost hope her acting isn’t as good as her singing, but then she acts like a dream.
When her dancing matches right up to the standard of her acting and singing you realise you’re in the presence of a true triple threat. Ms Strallen plays Meg so gorgeously naive that you can’t help but love her. At the end of the show she almost breaks your heart and you really see into the character in a way you never did before. I like that Meg is more of an integral character in this show, as she wasn’t really a feature in the original Phantom.
Love Never Dies is playing at the Adelphi Theatre. Please do go and see this show whether or not you are a fan of the original Phantom of The Opera. The strong leads and fantastic ensemble make it easily one of the best casts in the West End at the moment. Tickets are from £25 to £67.50 and are available at the Adelphi Box Office. Tickets are also available from Get Into London Theatre (http://www.getintolondontheatre.co.uk/ Performances from 01 January 2011 until 18 February 2011). Get Into London Theatre offers £67.50 Tickets at £35.00 and £47.50 tickets at £25 so now you have no reason not to go!
Video Copyright Love Never Dies London