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THEATRE TALK: Love Never Dies Shines Surprisingly Bright


Love Doesn't Die

Who knew that Love Never Dies was actually pretty good fun? From all reports, you'd think it was the worst thing ever to grace the London stage (a fine task when contenders include Too Close To The Sun and Dreamboats and Petticoats). I certainly wasn't expecting too much when a friend took me along, but I came out having enjoyed myself greatly.

The thing about Love Never Dies - and the original Phantom - is not to pay too much attention to the story. It's all a bit overblown, madly histrionic and cheesy but somehow this doesn't matter - the sequel is fun, fast-paced and full of talented cast members who work very hard at giving you an enjoyable evening out. While usual lead Ramin Karimloo was off when we went, understudy Tam Mutu did a spectacularly good job - a friend we bumped into at the interval hadn't even realised it wasn't Ramin (to be fair, we were seated far away enough that it wasn't obvious). His voice is so strong it sent shivers down my spine when it he went for the big belty notes - a great example of a good understudy making the part his own.

The effects and visuals are stunning, and while some of the pacing could do with tightening up, this really is a surprisingly fun show. Though I still maintain that Ben Elton should never be let near a notepad and pen, it's not the car crash many would have you believe - I'm even quite willing to go and see it again (the only other musicals in town to enjoy this thought from me are Legally Blonde and Priscilla).

Time called on Avenue Q

Avenue Q is to close in October, it has been announced. While it is obviously sad that an original musical is succumbing, the show has run for five years over here in the UK, longer than many others have managed - Hairspray, for instance, only lasted a year or so before giving up the ghost of the Shaftesbury. Avenue Q has announced closing dates before, only to ignore them when a large advance run of tickets was sold.

Cameron Mackintosh has kept the show running by constantly transferring it - it was previously at the Noel Coward, where Enron is finishing up, before trying out the Gielgud  - now the property of Hair, and finally ending up at the Wyndhams straight after Stephen Daldry's An Inspector Calls finished its own transferred run. It's been running slowly out of steam for ages, but it seems likely to have a life after this - and maybe even to make a return in a few years time.

Mixed reviews

Russell Labey's new musical Wolfboy has premiered to mixed reactions. Culture vulture Stephen Fry recently went to see it and pronounced positively on the experience. It's not the only one - La Bete was expected to garner all positives, but in fact Mark Rylance got most of the plaudits, leaving Joanna Lumley and David Hyde Pierce out in the cold. The Old Vic's Neil Simon comedy Prisoner Of 2nd Avenue also failed to impress many - not due to the acting, but the story. Of course, life isn't fun when everyone agrees... why not make your own mind up and let me know your thoughts?

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From This Author Miriam Zendle

Miriam Zendle is a freelance journalist specialising in arts, music and showbiz journalism. She has written for everyone from the Guardian to the Times and (read more...)