It's very simple – if you like the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber you will love, Love Never Dies; if you read books by Ben Elton you might make allowances for the story; if you have any senses at all you will thrill at the design by Bob Crowley and; if you have a pulse you will fall in love with the equally ravishing Sierra Boggess (Christine) and Ramin Karimloo (The Phantom) whose skill with this material and rapport with one another is expert, sincere, and essential to the evening’s success.
Frederick Forsyth's idea to transport the Phantom to the freak shows of Coney Island carnival land is inspired theatricality and Bob Crowley exploits this with relish.
It simply amazes that the Lord with all his expertise and brilliance as a Producer, let alone Composer, should not have learnt the importance of the ‘book' with any musical. Mr Elton is not up to the job and neither is the resultant committee that seems to have cobbled this together and missed a trick. The should-I-stay-or-should-I-go dilemma of Christine isn't sustaining or convincing enough somehow but when it manifests itself in song and staging by director Jack O'Brien we get another exquisite Norma Desmond style coup de theatre.
There are plenty of others too making it all the more baffling why this consummate director has his cast fill empty bars with meaningless gestures, I suppose it's that book again which like a stolen toilet doesn't give him much to go on. He does, however, pull off some great tricks with a nod to the prequel that delight.
That cast is magnificent to a man. Joseph Millson (Raoul) as well as being the brilliant actor we've all long admired can really sing. Who knew? Niamh Perry (Fleck) is underused and clearly on the road to stardom.
And as I'm writing for The Drama Student Magazine here's a few of the magnificent ensemble that stood out for me – the Squelch (!) of Adam Pearce (GSA); Derek Andrews (Arts Ed); Jessica Kirton (Arts Ed); Ashley Nottingham (London Studio Centre); Tom Oakley (Arts Ed); Simon Ray Harvey (Bird); Dean Chisnall (Arts Ed); Tam Mutu (GSA).
Would I reccomend it? Highly. Was I seduced? Ravished. What would I say to ALW? “Return to Rice, Hart, Hampton and Black.”