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|Love Never Dies|
|Music||Andrew Lloyd Webber|
|Book||Andrew Lloyd Webber|
|Basis||Elements of The Phantom of Manhattan by Frederick Forsyth and an original treatment by Ben Elton|
|Productions||2010 West End|
|Love Never Dies|
|Music||Andrew Lloyd Webber|
|Book||Andrew Lloyd Webber|
|Basis||Elements of The Phantom of Manhattan by Frederick Forsyth and an original treatment by Ben Elton|
|Productions||2010 West End|
Love Never Dies is a romantic musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Glenn Slater and later Charles Hart, and book by Lloyd Webber, Slater and Ben Elton. It is a sequel to Lloyd Webber's long-running musical The Phantom of the Opera. The musical is set in 1907, which Lloyd Webber states is, "ten years roughly after the end of the original Phantom," although the events of the original actually took place in 1881. 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.
Although Lloyd Webber began working on Love Never Dies in 1990, it was not until 2007 that he began writing the music. The musical opened at the Adelphi Theatre in the West End on 9 March 2010 with previews from 22 February 2010. It was originally directed by Jack O'Brien and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, however the show closed for four days in November 2010 for substantial re-writes, which were overseen by Lloyd Webber, and it opened with new direction from Bill Kenwright. Set and costume designs were by Bob Crowley. The original London production received mostly negative reviews, however, the subsequent Australian production featuring an entirely new design team and heavy revisions was generally better received. The planned Broadway production, which was to have opened simultaneously with the West End run, was delayed and then indefinitely postponed.
Andrew Lloyd Webber first began plans for a sequel to his 1986 hit musical, The Phantom of the Opera, in 1990. Following a conversation with Maria Björnson, the designer of The Phantom of the Opera, Lloyd Webber decided that, were a sequel to come about, it would be set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. One of his ideas was to have Phantom live above ground in Manhattan's first penthouse, but he rejected this when he saw a TV documentary about the Coney Island fairground. Lloyd Webber began collaborating with author Frederick Forsyth on the project, but it soon fell apart as Lloyd Webber felt the ideas they were developing would be difficult to adapt for a stage musical. Forsyth went on to publish some of the ideas he had worked on with Lloyd Webber in 1999 as a novel entitled The Phantom of Manhattan.
Lloyd Webber returned to the project in 2006, collaborating with a number of writers and directors. However, he still did not feel the ideas he had were adaptable into a piece of musical theatre. Finally, in early 2007, Lloyd Webber approached Ben Elton (who had served as the librettist for Lloyd Webber's The Beautiful Game) to help shape a synopsis for a sequel, based on Lloyd Webber's initial ideas. Elton's treatment of the story focused more on the original characters of The Phantom of the Opera and omitted new characters that Lloyd Webber and Forsyth had developed. Lloyd Webber was pleased with Elton's treatment and began work on the sequel. In March 2007, he announced he would be moving forward with the project.
The Daily Mail announced in May 2007 that the sequel would be delayed, because Lloyd Webber's six-month-old kitten Otto, a rare-breed Turkish Van, climbed onto Lloyd Webber's Clavinova digital piano and managed to delete the entire score. Lloyd Webber was unable to recover any of it from the instrument, but was eventually able to reconstruct the score. In 2008, Lloyd Webber first announced that the sequel would likely be called Phantom: Once Upon Another Time, and the first act was performed at Lloyd Webber's annual Sydmonton Festival. The Phantom was played by Ramin Karimloo and Raoul was played by Alistair Robbins. However, in September 2008, during the BBC's Birthday in the Park concert celebrating his 60th birthday, Lloyd Webber announced that the title would be Love Never Dies. In other workshop readings, Raoul and Christine were played by Aaron Lazar and Elena Shaddow.
On 3 July 2009, Lloyd Webber announced that Karimloo (who had played the Phantom in the West End) and Sierra Boggess (who had originated the role of Christine in Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular) had been cast as the Phantom and Christine and that the role of Meg Giry would be played by Summer Strallen, Madame Giry by Liz Robertson and Raoul by Joseph Millson. I'd Do Anything finalist Niamh Perry was given the role of Fleck.
Lloyd Webber originally intended for Love Never Dies to open in London, New York and Shanghai simultaneously in the autumn of 2009. By March 2009, he had decided to open the show at London's Adelphi Theatre, followed by Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre (before transferring to Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre in 2010) and Shanghai. The three casts would rehearse simultaneously in London for three months beginning August 2009. Opening dates were soon announced as 26 October 2009 in London, November in Toronto and February 2010 in Shanghai, with a later transfer to Melbourne, Australia. Plans were then announced for a separate Broadway production to run concurrently with the Toronto show if Toronto proved successful. In May, the debut of the London production was delayed until March 2010 due to Lloyd Webber re-orchestrating the score and re-recording the album. Technical issues with the special effects, automaton version of Christine and casting multiple simultaneous productions also contributed to the postponement. By October 2009, Shanghai plans had been dropped in favour of an Australian production.
On 8 October 2009, Lloyd Webber held a press conference at Her Majesty's Theatre, where the original Phantom has been running since 1986, confirming the casting of Boggess as Christine and Karimloo as the Phantom. Karimloo sang "Til I Hear You Sing", and "The Coney Island Waltz" was also performed for the journalists, industry insiders and fans who had assembled for the presentation. Lloyd Webber announced that Love Never Dies would begin previews in London on 20 February 2010 and anticipated that the Broadway production would open on 11 November 2010 (this was later postponed and then indefinitely). Rehearsals began in January 2010.
As with Phantom, Lloyd Webber's score for "Love Never Dies" also includes the fictional music of its time as musical fragments to fictional pieces which are taking place within the show itself. Only "Bathing Beauty" survived the post concept album cuts to be performed on stage.
Instead of the operatic passages for fictional "operas," the "stage" music at Phantasma is based on the companion pieces to the Savoy Operas, which were often burlesques and were also sometimes performed at the Opéra Comique. Many of these kinds of burlesques were based on existing French operas. During the Victorian age, nearly every popular opera was turned into a burlesque. The W. S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan) operatic burlesque Robert the Devil is a parody of Robert le diable, a romantic grand opera by Meyerbeer which was mentioned in the opening to "Phantom of the Opera".
These pieces were very popular among the lower class, but not commonly seen by more sophisticated opera goers. According to W. J. MacQueen-Pope:
Like most burlesques, "Robert the Devil" featured women in scanty costumes and breeches roles. In operas, these were always supporting roles. The pageboy role in Christine's second opera is a breeches role, like the part of Cherubino, the Count's page, in The Marriage of Figaro. However, in burlesques, breeches roles could be main parts.
Very little specific information is available for most of these curtain openers. However, the opener for "Pinafore", which had also been performed at the Opéra Comique in 1878, was called "Beauties on the Beach". Meg Giry's grand opening number in "Love Never Dies" is called "Bathing Beauty (On The Beach)".
The first preview of Love Never Dies was delayed from 20 February to 22 February 2010 due to a last-minute brief illness of Boggess and technical demands. The show had its official opening on 9 March 2010. It was directed by Jack O'Brien, choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, and had set and costume designs by Bob Crowley. The cast included Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom, Sierra Boggess as Christine, Joseph Millson as Raoul, Liz Robertson as Madame Giry, Summer Strallen as Meg Giry and Niamh Perry as Fleck. In April 2010, Lloyd Webber was threatened with a £20,000 fine for illegally painting the Grade II-listed Adelphi Theatre black to promote this musical.
In December 2010, Lloyd Webber closed the London production for a few days to rework the show after a poor critical response. The musical was reviewed again (at Lloyd Webber's invitation), with critic Henry Hitchings noting that "Some of the most obvious alterations stem from the recruitment of lyricist Charles Hart to adjust the cadences of the original clunky lines written by Glenn Slater." He further pointed out that "There are also lots of bracing directorial touches; the show is credited to Jack O’Brien, but it is new choreographer Bill Deamer and producer Bill Kenwright who have added the zest." The London production closed on 27 August 2011 after a disappointing run of fewer than eighteen months. In 2012, Lloyd Webber stated that although he was, "very, very proud" of the London production, it did not completely work and also said, "something just went slightly wrong; I had cancer just before the production, and it was just that crucial 5% off-beam".
The hoped-for Broadway production was announced as delayed to spring 2011. Lloyd Webber also announced that Asian and Canadian productions were planned, although these have been dropped for now. After the mixed reviews and negative reaction from some Phantom fans during previews, an executive producer stated that before its bow on Broadway, the show would likely undergo "some changes". On October 1, 2010 it was announced that the musical would not open on Broadway in Spring 2011.
In 2010, Lloyd-Webber announced that the Australian production would open on May 21, 2011 at Melbourne's Regent Theatre. This production, the first outside of the UK, featured brand new direction and design by an Australian creative team, including director Simon Phillips. Ben Lewis and Anna O'Byrne were cast as the leads, Although Lloyd Webber hopes to bring the Melbourne production to Broadway in the future, he told The New York Times that, even with the positive reception of the reworked Melbourne production, a Broadway transfer was probably not realistic. He also announced that the Melbourne production would be filmed on September 15, 2011 and made available on DVD. The recording was originally to be released on DVD and Blu-ray February 1, 2012, but it was later delayed till May 29, 2012 in the United States. In the UK, the DVD was released on March 12, 2012, and in Australia it was released on February 8, 2012. The recorded performance also played in select theaters on February 28 and March 7, 2012. It was then screened again in U.S. cinemas on May 23, 2012. Lloyd Webber stated that even if a Broadway production does not happen, he feels that he has closed the chapter on the piece, as the filmed version is something that he's, "very, very proud of" and it does not really matter to him, "if it comes tomorrow or five years' time". The Melbourne production closed on December 18, 2011.
The Melbourne production transferred to Sydney's Capitol Theatre with previews beginning January 8, 2012 and officially opened on January 12, 2012. The show concluded its limited engagement on April 1, 2012.
Ten years after the events at the Paris Opera, The Phantom is now the mastermind of Phantasma, a Coney Island amusement park. Despite the success of his endeavours, he is tortured by the absence of Christine Daae in his life and he longs to hear her sing again ("Til I Hear You Sing"). He sends Christine an invitation to make her American debut on the Phantasma stage. Unaware that The Phantom is behind this, she accepts the invitation and journeys to New York with her husband Raoul (Vicomte de Chagny) and son, Gustave.
At Phantasma, Madame Giry and The Phantom's performers introduce the wonders of Coney Island ("The Coney Island Waltz"). Meg Giry, Christine Daaé's friend from the Paris Opera, has become "the ooh la la" girl in The Phantom's vaudeville show, which Madame Giry produces. Meg and the Phantasma cast win the crowd over with their performance of "Only for You". Madame Giry assures Meg that she performed wonderfully, although The Phantom was not present at the show. Madame Giry is concerned that her daughter has lost the attention of the Phantom and she reminisces about how she and Meg smuggled him from Paris, France to New York City.
Christine, Raoul and their ten-year-old son Gustave arrive in New York and are met by crowds of paparazzi. They are greeted by the freaks, who arrive by a horseless carriage, to take them to Coney Island (“Are You Ready to Begin?”). Raoul is angry at the reception and upsets Gustave by not playing with him. ("What a Dreadful Town!...") As Raoul leaves to go drinking, Christine tells Gustave to “Look With Your Heart” to try to help him understand. Gustave goes to bed, and the Phantom arrives to see Christine. (“Beneath a Moonless Sky”). They recall that “Once Upon Another Time” they thought their love had a chance of succeeding. Gustave wakes up screaming from a nightmare and meets the Phantom for the first time ("Mother Please, I'm Scared!"). The Phantom promises to show Gustave more of Phantasma. He tells Christine that she must sing for him again or she will return home without the boy.
In the rehearsal studio for Phantasma, Meg is surprised and jealous to learn that Christine will be singing. Raoul encounters Giry and discovers that the Phantom is the one for whom Christine is to be singing ("Dear Old Friend"). The freaks bring Gustave to the Aerie where he is greeted by the Phantom. Gustave plays a melody on the piano that leads the Phantom to suspect he is Gustave's father ("Beautiful"). The Phantom questions Gustave and finds they are kindred spirits. He unmasks himself, believing Gustave will accept him ("The Beauty Underneath"), but Gustave is horrified and screams. Christine comforts Gustave and, when pressed by the Phantom, confesses that Gustave is his son ("The Phantom Confronts Christine"). The Phantom makes Christine promise to never tell Gustave that Raoul is not his real father. The Phantom declares that everything he owns will go to him. Having overheard everything, a furious Madame Giry fears all her work over the years has been for nothing.
In a gloomy bar, Raoul contemplates his relationship with Christine ("Why Does She Love Me?"). He is joined by Meg who tells him he is in "Suicide Hall", the place "where people end up when they don't know where else to go." Meg swims each day to wash away the stress of working. She tells Raoul that he must leave with Christine and Gustave. Raoul says he is not afraid of the Phantom, who has been behind the bar. As soon as Meg leaves, the Phantom reveals himself and they make a bet: if Christine does not sing, Raoul may leave with Christine and Gustave. Otherwise, Raoul must return home to Paris alone. The Phantom leads Raoul to question Gustave's paternity ("Devil Take the Hindmost").
Fleck, Squelch and Gangle appear to advertise Christine's appearance at Phantasma ("Invitation to the Concert"). That night, Meg performs a strip-tease about her choice of swimming costumes ("Bathing Beauty"). The audience goes crazy for Meg, but Madame Giry tells Meg that the Phantom did not watch the performance and it was for nothing ("Mother, Did You Watch?").
"Before the Performance", Gustave explores backstage, while Raoul asks Christine to leave with him if she loves him. As Raoul leaves, the Phantom enters and tells Christine that Raoul's love is not enough and that she must sing for him. In her dressing room, Christine recalls the Opera where she had to decide between Raoul and the Phantom. Madame Giry, Raoul and the Phantom wonder whether Christine will sing ("Devil Take The Hindmost" (reprise)). Christine performs an aria for the crowd, as Raoul and the Phantom watch ("Love Never Dies"). Raoul leaves as Christine finishes to thunderous applause. Christine is greeted by the Phantom and a letter from Raoul informing her of his departure ("Ah Christine"). Gustave is missing, and she becomes worried ("Gustave, Gustave"). The Phantom suspects Madame Giry and threatens her. Fleck notes that she was passing Meg's dressing room when she noticed the mirror had been smashed and saw Meg dragging a small figure away. The Phantom believes he knows where Meg took him.
At Suicide Hall, Meg prepares to drown Gustave, when the others confront her. She holds up a gun so the Phantom will listen as she reveals that the resources Madame Giry has afforded him came from Meg's working as a prostitute to influential men. The Phantom tries to get the gun, but Meg accidentally shoots Christine. Christine reveals to Gustave that the Phantom is his real father and a shocked Gustave runs off. She tells the Phantom that her love for him will never die. They have one final kiss and she dies in his arms. Gustave returns with Raoul who looks on silently and sadly, then Gustave goes and joins the Phantom and lays his head on the lap of his deceased mother. Gustave then looks up at the Phantom and takes the Phantom's mask off but does not react as he did before. Gustave and the Phantom look at each other as the curtain falls.
The following is a list of the principal roles and original cast of Love Never Dies.
|Character||Original London Cast||Original Australian Cast||Final London Cast||Description|
|The Phantom||Ramin Karimloo||Ben Lewis||Ramin Karimloo||Surrounded by an angry mob at the Opera, the Phantom escaped to America with the help of Madame Giry and Meg. He was eventually able to buy a sideshow and ultimately build Phantasma after Madame Giry and Meg worked night and day to raise the money.|
|Christine Daaé||Sierra Boggess||Anna O'Byrne||Celia Graham||Now a world famous opera star and mother, Christine has not performed in some time. Unaware that the invitation has come from The Phantom, she agrees to make her American debut at Phantasma.|
|Raoul, Vicomte de Chagny||Joseph Millson||Simon Gleeson||David Thaxton||Raoul has become a gambler and drinker and has lost his fortune. He no longer feels the same passion for Christine as he once did and is a constantly angry man.|
|Madame Giry||Liz Robertson (Sally Dexter on the cast recording)||Maria Mercedes||Liz Robertson||She despises Christine after realizing that The Phantom favors Christine over Meg even after everything she did to help him.|
|Meg Giry||Summer Strallen||Sharon Millerchip||Haley Flaherty||Now a vaudeville singer, she hopes to become a great singer like Christine and expects The Phantom to help her.|
|Fleck||Niamh Perry||Emma J. Hawkins||Tracey Penn||One of Phantasma's 'human prodigies', she is an aerialist described as "half bird, half woman". In the Australian Production, she is portrayed as a dwarf.|
|Squelch||Adam Pearce||Paul Tabone||Adam Pearce||One of Phantasma's 'human prodigies', a tattooed strong man. In the Australian Production, his tattoos are replaced by frowning clown make-up.|
|Gangle||Jami Reid-Quarrell||Dean Vince||Charles Brunton||One of Phantasma's 'human prodigies', the barker of the shows. In the Australian Production, he is portrayed as a circus clown|
|George Cartwright Bush|
|Raoul has raised Gustave as his own son, unaware that Gustave is The Phantom's son. Gustave possesses the same musical skills as his mother and the Phantom.|
The Original Concept Album was released in March 2010. It peaked at number 10 on the UK Albums Chart, #1 in Greece, #8 in New Zealand and #15 in Denmark. The following musical numbers are how they appeared on that original album.
The Original London production opened with all the songs from the Concept Album. However, the show went through several rewrites and many of the songs were rearranged or even removed from the production. Charles Hart, one of the original lyricists from Phantom of the Opera, was brought in to help in the rewrites. These are the musical numbers as they last appeared in the London Production.
The Original (reworked) Australian production opened with many of the songs from the reworked London production with new staging. Staging and musical numbers for the Australian Production:
The first song released to the public was "The Coney Island Waltz", on the musical's official site as part of a Love Never Dies' teaser trailer video in September 2009. The teaser trailer combined clips from the 2009 London EPK video of The Phantom of the Opera (featuring Gina Beck, Ramin Karimloo, and Simon Bailey) with black-and-white film footage of immigrants arriving by ship in New York City and shots of Coney Island. The official site later released "The Coney Island Waltz" as a sample track in 2009 and as a complimentary music download for customers pre-ordering the Love Never Dies studio recording album. The music video for "The Coney Island Waltz" is set to archival film footage of Coney Island.
"Til I Hear You Sing", sung by Ramin Karimloo, is the first single from the musical and was previewed on 20 February 2010 through The Mail on Sunday website. and previewed elsewhere on 22 February 2010. It is a love ballad about the male narrator expressing his longing to hear the voice of his beloved after many years. The promotional music video was an excerpt of Ramin Karimloo's live performance at the 8 October 2009 London press launch and made viewable the same day, with Karimloo singing in a blue-lit set while Sierra Boggess sits quietly on a throne. The official music video features Karimloo undisguised in a flat with a backdrop of projector images and floating appearance of Boggess.
On 26 January 2010 the title song "Love Never Dies" was first publicly performed at The South Bank Show Awards, sung by Sierra Boggess and accompanied by Lloyd Webber and Louise Hunt on two grand pianos. The show was broadcast on ITV1 on 31 January 2010. The tune is identical to Lloyd Webber's other musical numbers "Our Kind of Love" from The Beautiful Game in 2000 and "The Heart is Slow to Learn", which was intended for a Phantom sequel, sung by Kiri Te Kanawa in 1998 at the Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration. "Love Never Dies" also has a very similar melody to Charles Williams' composition "Jealous Lover" from the 1949 British film The Romantic Age. "Jealous Lover" was later retitled "Theme from the Apartment" for the 1960 Billy Wilder film The Apartment.
Welsh singer Katherine Jenkins was approached by Lloyd Webber to record her version of "Love Never Dies" in late 2009. The song appears as the first track on the special edition of Jenkins' album Believe, which was released on 29 March 2010 in the UK. Jenkins performed the song with Lloyd Webber on the ITV1 show Dancing on Ice on 28 February 2010. Lloyd Webber has stated that Jenkins would not fit the score of his musical Love Never Dies because her vocal range is a mezzo-soprano, not a soprano like Sierra Boggess.
Japanese singer Ayaka Hirahara was chosen to record "Love Never Dies" in Japanese for a bonus track of the soundtrack album's Japanese release. "Love Never Dies" was also recorded in Mandarin by Liping Zhang and in Korean by Sumi Jo.
The concept album of Love Never Dies was recorded around 2008–2009, using an 80–90 piece orchestra. Lloyd Webber did not like the orchestrations in the second act, so he had half the album re-recorded. John Barrowman had originally recorded the part of Raoul on the concept album but was replaced by Joseph Millson, who had been cast as Raoul for the stage production at the time the album was re-orchestrated and re-recorded.Sally Dexter, who performed Madame Giry on the album, is replaced by Liz Robertson in the musical. The album was completed in September 2009 and scheduled to be released on 10 March 2010, the day after the show's London opening. Preview sound clips from all tracks on the album became available online on 8 February 2010 at Amazon.co.uk.
A cast recording of the original production was released on 8 March 2010 by Polydor Records in the UK and on 9 March 2010 by Decca Records in North America. It debuted at #82 on the Billboard 200, #1 on the Billboard Cast Album chart, and #10 on the UK Albums Chart. It also charted at #1 in Greece, #14 in Taiwan, #8 in New Zealand, and #15 in Denmark.
Love Never Dies Deluxe Edition [Original Cast Recording]
Release date: 8 March 2010 (UK), 9 March 2010 (North America)
Number of discs: 2 Audio CDs, 1 DVD-Video
Extras include: "Bonus DVD with interviews and filmed footage & nicely bound 40 page booklet with full libretto"
Love Never Dies [Original Cast Recording]
Release date: 8 March 2010 (UK), 9 March 2010 (North America)
Number of discs: 2 Audio CDs
Both recordings feature the same 19 tracks on Disc 1 and 13 tracks on Disc 2 with each disc matching an act.
A digital version of the double CD album was also made available on the Love Never Dies official online shop.
Love Never Dies: Asian edition
Release date: 30 March 2010 (North America)
Number of discs: 2 Audio CDs
Extras include: 2 bonus tracks, "Love Never Dies" (Mandarin language version) by Liping Zhang and "Love Never Dies" (Korean language version) by Sumi Jo.
After Love Never Dies opened on 9 March 2010 in London, it received mixed critical reviews. Perhaps the most positive review was Paul Taylor's in The Independent giving the show five stars, and writing, "What is in no doubt is the technical excellence of Jack O'Brien's seamlessly fluent, sumptuous (and sometimes subtle) production, or the splendour of the orchestra which pours forth Lloyd Webber's dark-hued, yearning melodies as if its life depended on them. Special praise should go to the lyrical lavishness of Bob Crowley and Jon Driscoll's designs, with their gilt interiors where the vegetation-imitating contours and giant peacock-plumage of Art Nouveau run rampant, and their ghostly external locations where a brilliantly deployed combination of flowing projection (timed to perfection with emotional/ rhythmic shifts in the music) and solidly presented stage-effects create a dizzying Coney Island of the mind". In stark contrast, Ben Brantley of The New York Times gave it zero stars, calling the production "a big, gaudy new show. And he might as well have a “kick me” sign pasted to his backside. ... This poor sap of a show feels as eager to be walloped as a clown in a carnival dunking booth. Why bother, when from beginning to end, Love Never Dies is its very own spoiler."
Other positive reviews included Charles Spencer of The Telegraph, who raved, "this is Lloyd Webber’s finest show since the original Phantom, with a score blessed with superbly haunting melodies and a yearning romanticism that sent shivers racing down my spine." He gave the show four stars out of five, but cautioned that "The show may ultimately prove too strange, too dark, too tormented to become a massive popular hit, but I suspect its creepy allure will linger potently in the memory when frothier shows have been long forgotten". Paul Callan of the Daily Express also gave the show four stars, writing that Love Never Dies "is an elegant and clever sequel to Phantom and deserves to have the old Adelphi Theatre filled every night with Lloyd Webber’s core, usually middle-class, audiences. It is a great night out."
In The Guardian, Michael Billington gave the show three out of five stars, commenting, "There is much to enjoy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical. The score is one of the composer's most seductive." However, Billington said, "The problems lie within the book ... which lacks the weight to support the imaginative superstructure." He continues, "the staging is a constant source of iridescent pleasure. But, as one of the lyrics reminds us, "diamonds never sparkle bright unless they are set just right". ... With a libretto to match the melodies, this might have been a stunner rather than simply a good night out". Tim Walker of The Sunday Telegraph praised the production for "what are undoubtedly the most impressive special effects to be had in the West End" and said the principals sang "with gusto, charisma and sexiness." Still, he found himself, "yearning after a while for the big showstopper ... but it never came."
In The Times, critic Benedict Nightingale gave the show two out of five stars and said, "Where’s the menace, the horror, the psychological darkness? For that I recommend a trip to Her Majesty’s, not the Adelphi." Another unenthusiastic review appeared in the London Evening Standard, where critic Henry Hitchings wrote that "while Lloyd Webber’s music is at times lavishly operatic, the tone is uneven. There are no more than a couple of songs that promise to live in the memory, the duets don’t soar, and the ending is insipid. Admirers of Phantom are likely to be disappointed, and there’s not enough here to entice a new generation of fans". Hitchings also commented that the story "is largely predictable – and flimsy. The chief problem is the book. ... It lacks psychological plausibility. Worse, it lacks heart. There’s little pathos or emotional tension. There is also scarcely a moment of humour [the] lyrics are prosaic, and the flickers of light relief are merely confusing." Similarly, David Benedict of Variety wrote that the show "wants to be a tragic romance, but it's simply torpid. Only a radical rewrite will give it even the remotest chance of emulating its predecessor."
Quentin Letts of The Daily Mail gave the show a negative review, stating that it "is as slow to motor as a lawnmower at spring’s first cut". He also criticised the show for lacking in storytelling and romance, stating that it "assumes that we understand the attraction these two dullards [Phantom and Raoul] have for the beautiful Christine. Could she do no better? ... In the end you conclude that she simply seeks out suffering to improve her art." Letts praised the performances and the orchestration but concluded that the show was not a hit: "But if it is a miss, it is ... a noble miss, noble because Lloyd Webber’s increasingly operatic music tries to lift us to a higher plane." Susannah Clapp of The Observer was also critical of the book and called the show "drab" and "about as tension-filled as winding wool." Even the musical numbers, she wrote, "never meld with the visual splendours, never give the effect, which is Lloyd Webber's gift, of the music delivering the scenery." Sam Marlowe of Time Out London gave the show one out of five stars, calling it "ghastly" and "an interminable musical monstrosity". He observes: "With its sickening swirls of video imagery, pointless plot, and protracted, repetitive songs, Love Never Dies ... is punishingly wearisome."
Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times reported on fan reaction: "How is the new Phantom faring with theatergoers who have seen it in previews? Not so well. ... Elsewhere online, 'Love Never Dies' has even spawned a Facebook protest group called 'Love Should Die', which declares in its mission statement: 'We feel strongly that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest musical ... is a completely misguided venture that is a detriment to the story of the original Phantom of the Opera novel and musical of the same name'. … Virtually everything about the show strikes us as illogical, irrational, offensive and - frankly - stupid." A barbed reworking of the show's title from Love Never Dies to Paint Never Dries was originated by the London-based theatre bloggers, The West End Whingers. It has subsequently been picked up and repeated by a multitude of journalists, both in print and on screen.
Columnist Barbara Ellen of The Observer ridiculed the pomposity of some of the unfavourable reviews in her column on Sunday 28 March 2010, in a jokey "Open letter to London's famous Adelphi theatre": "Dear Mr Adelphi, Regarding the performance I viewed last week of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies, ridiculed as Paint Never Dries. With regret, I must demand my money back; it simply wasn't bad or boring enough. My companions and I paid our money and went along in good faith, expecting a right old disaster. Imagine our disappointment when it was good. The phantom bore an eerie resemblance to Martin Amis sulking after his tiff with Anna Ford, but, sir, this was not enough. A catastrophe we were promised and a catastrophe we expected to see. One concedes that it is not all the production's fault. Negative reviews, the dark art of anti-hype, are a dangerous business. However, do fine feelings pay my babysitter? I feel that I, and several innocent coach parties, were tricked into going to Paint Never Dries, and, against our will, forced to endure an enjoyable evening. I'm sure I speak for many when I say I left your theatre wholly dissatisfied with how incredibly satisfied I felt".
Chris Boyd, of The Australian called the musical, "The best thing Lloyd Webber has written in the quarter century since Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies is still a missed opportunity. It toys half-heartedly with domestic melancholia. Christine's wealthy suitor Raoul, 10 years on, is an insecure and possessive husband who uses his wife's talents to pay off his gambling debts. He frets that he cannot deliver to Christine "the rush that music brings", leaving her vulnerable, once more, to her angel of music. Love Never Dies provides several of those rush moments, but doesn't quite connect the starry dots. Musically, there are some riches - a fluttering duet between Meg and Christine for example - but few surprises." As for Gabriela Tylesova's sets such as, "Coney Island carnival, deco interiors, a shabby bar," he found them, "endlessly fascinating; they're spectacular without being ostentatious. The main feature is an upright metal circle, part Luna Park mouth, part Stargate. Her costumes, too, are gorgeous."
Jason Blake of the Sydney Morning Herald said, "Phillips's production steers clear of "chandelier moments", favouring sustained invention, seamless flow and an engulfing sense of nightmare. There's wow factor, of course (a galloping carousel is an early highlight) though quieter scenes are realised with the same attention to detail, particularly the recreation of a Coney Island bar to frame Raoul's saloon song feature (Why Does She Love Me) and his face-off with Mr Y (Devil Take the Hindmost) An inspired, often ravishing production for sure, though of a sequel that doesn't make a strong enough musical or narrative argument for its own existence."
In the Daily Express, Mark Shenton commented, "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."
Kate Herbert of the Herald Sun gave the show four out of five stars and wrote, "With its vivid design, eccentric characters and mystical imagery, this is a ravishing spectacle that captures the dark mystery of a perilous fairground (circa 1907) and should convert even a die-hard Phantom fan." She also said, "Lloyd Webber's score (conducted skilfully by Guy Simpson) intermittently and elegantly reprises the original Phantom, connecting the two stories" but she did feel that, "several songs, with trite lyrics, lack punch. A bigger problem is the unsatisfying story. There are unnecessary Red Herrings and too many villains."
William Yeoman of The West Australian wrote, "With book by Ben Elton and lyrics by Glenn Slater and Charles Hart, Love Never Dies is a curious mixture of gothic romance, vaudeville and verismo, with Lloyd Webber's lush, romantic score spinning like a fairground ride from Puccini to Pulcinella to driving rock to delicate aria as the tragedy unfolds. Under Simon Phillips' unfailingly cogent direction, the cast too manage to transform the most unpromising material, if not into gold then at least into silver."
Cameron Woodhead of The Age gave the show three and a half out of five stars and said, "Between Gabriela Tylesova’s set and costumes, Nick Schlieper’s lighting, and Graeme Murphy’s choreography, you’re in for some spectacular stagecraft. After the Phantom pines for Christine and ascends to the gods (’Til I Hear You Sing), the scene breaks into an elaborate circus (Coney Island Waltz). Introduced by a trio of freaks, the amusement swells into a crowd of acrobats and stilt-walkers, fire-twirlers and magicians, with Luna Park-like plastic heads, a portable big-top, and rows of carnies singing from rollercoaster tracks suspended mid-air. It’s breathtaking stuff, and not the best of Love Never Dies' dark illusionism. That honor belongs to a scene, deeper into Coney, where transparent obelisks caging eldritch wonders – including a gilded mermaid – rotate across the stage."