Review Roundup: LOVE NEVER DIES Makes Its Sydney Premiere
The principal characters of The Phantom of the Opera continue their stories in Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies. 10 years after the mysterious disappearance of The Phantom from the Paris Opera House, Christine Daaé accepts an offer to come to America and perform at New York's fabulous new playground of the world - Coney Island. Christine arrives in New York with her husband Raoul and their son Gustave. She soon discovers the identity of the anonymous impresario who has lured her from France to sing.
Ben Lewis, who appeared in the original Australian casts of PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT and SPAMALOT stars as the Phantom, opposite Anna O'Byrne as Christine Daaé. O'Byrne previously played the role in an Australian tour of PHANTOM.
LOVE NEVER DIES opened January 12 at Sydney's Capitol Theatre. It plays through March 11.
The Australian productions are not a carbon copy of the London production, and instead have new design and a new director. Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) directs, with Gabriela Tylesova behind the design. Guy Simpson, who worked with the Australian production of Phantom, serves as music supervisor, and Graeme Murphy choreographs. Was the reworked production better received than its London predecessor? Find out now!
Jo Litson, The Telegraph: The show has since risen to new heights with the uniformly excellent cast finding greater emotional depth in their roles as the production has grown...It's hard to imagine the show being better staged. A couple of plot twists may seem a little unconvincing to some, but the show swept me along completely to its genuinely moving ending: an exhilarating night of theatre.
Mark Shenton, Daily Express: Now under the new leadership of director Simon Phillips, and with a fresh creative team, there is a new vision to the show in Australia and here, at last, is the masterpiece that was always crying to be let out...The new production has a spectacular Gothic theatricality that heightens, deepens and darkens those emotions.
Jason Blake, Sydney Morning Herald: Towering physically and vocally over the show, Lewis’s performance has – within the melodramatic limits prescribed – become a more supple one. There’s a paucity of memorable songs and melodies, and the story’s climax stutters, but Love Never Dies’ deficiencies as art are more than covered for by its value as sumptuous old-fashioned entertainment.
Sarrah Le Marquand, The Telegraph: Predictably, the reunion soon reignites the Phantom/Christine/Raoul love triangle, which rapidly progresses from melodramatic to genuinely tragic in the fast-paced second act. While a steady string of showstoppers helped catapult the original into the musical theatre stratosphere, Phantom Part II boasts a far less remarkable score. It’s only due to the strong performances and lavish design that this locally revamped production manages to shrug off the curse of the sequel.