BWW Review: LOVE NEVER DIES (Or Does It?) at DCPA
It's no secret that entertainment culture has an obsession with sequels and beyond. Movie trilogies become sagas and soon enough Jude Law is playing young Albus Dumbledore. This desire to expand the story; to pick up where you left off is prevalent even on the stage, although perhaps not as regularly. In Andrew Llyod Webber's Love Never Dies, the story isn't over just yet for Christine Daaé, The Phantom, and many other important players from it's predecessor, The Phantom of the Opera.
Picking up ten years after our time in the opera house, Love Never Dies finds The Phantom on Coney Island under the guise of a secretive side show owner, Mr. Y. Word spreads that the famed Christine is traveling to New York and returning to the stage for a limited engagement, accompanied by her now husband, Raoul, and her son, Gustave.
At best, the show is visually stunning. At worst, the show is all over the place. There were special moments scattered throughout, but overall the inconsistency in the music and the plot were enough to drive a person crazy. Some of the music was beautiful, such as the opening song, "'Till I Hear You Sing," and the title song, "Love Never Dies." However, some of the other music seemed lazy, rushed, or out of style on the part of Webber. The random rock song towards the finale of Act I seemed incredibly out of place. At surface level, the majority of the elements in the plot have the ability to make a great story, but just like the music, it was rushed and lazy. I particularly took issue with the recreation of the iconic "sing for me" scene from the first musical, as well as, the blocking of the final scene of the show.
Although Love Never Dies isn't the strongest in terms of production qualities, the performances were as strong as ever. The dedication from each cast member to their roles is the most refreshing part about the show, and rightfully so. As the young boy, Gustave, Jake Heston Miller has a voice as pure as any angel's, although he could do to not slouch when he sings. As Raoul, Sean Thompson is a strong bari-tenor whose conviction to the role is apparent from every seat in the house. In the roles of the side show trio, Katrina Kemp as Fleck, Stephen Petrovich as Gangle, and Richard Koons as Squelch, are not only a highlight, but a centerpiece of the production. Mary Michael Patterson as the friend-turned-competition, Meg, is wonderful in her role. Her voice has a slightly more contemporary sound to it compared to her cohorts on stage, which I think helped the role stand out more as well.
Karen Mason as Madame Giry is perfect in her role. Her vocals and acting chops are perfectly matched and in sync. I'll admit, I was certainly starstruck. In the role of Christine Daaé, Meghan Picerno is magnificent. Her vocal ability is second to none and she had great chemistry with every other actor on stage. In the role of the The Phantom, Bronson Norris Murphy has truly produced some of his finest work, I'm sure. The opening number alone left me with my jaw on the floor. It is one thing to be an amazing singer. It is another to have amazing technique. It's the difference between a singer and a musician.
Love Never Dies plays at DCPA through October 29, 2018. For tickets, visit https://www.denvercenter.org/tickets-events/love-never-dies/.