Phantom's stage return delayed by technical glitches

Preview of Lloyd Webber's 'Love Never Dies' is postponed just four weeks before premiere

The show can't go on. Though the sequel to the record-breaking Phantom of the Opera, the £10m production of Love Never Dies, is possibly the most anticipated musical of all time, planned previews suffered a last-minute postponement.

Producers admitted last night that if the lavish Andrew Lloyd Webber production was to go ahead it would be with "an exhausted company" and perhaps "a show still not in a technically safe and secure state".

The cast has already recorded an album, and a clutch of celebrities have been treated to a taster, but after 18 months of rehearsals a letter sent out to ticket holders admits that the show has been "knocked off course by technical demands".

The delay adds to increasing discontent with the number of big shows – past offenders include Cabaret and Billy Elliot – postponing previews due, in what Mark Shenton, a critic for The Stage magazine, describes as a "cavalier disregard for the paying customer... selling tickets to performances they are not ready to deliver".

The setback came as Lloyd Webber, 61, spoke of his relief at his all-clear following surgery for prostate cancer.

Hollywood-style special effects – such as a huge falling chandelier whizzing over the heads of the audience – helped to make Phantom so popular, but it is thought that the new show may be stumbling over similarly ambitious plans, including the creation of a life-sized automaton of the heroine, Christine Daaé.

Backstage at the Adelphi theatre last Wednesday, the narrow corridors were bustling as all the crew strove to pull the show together in time.

"We are in technical rehearsals now, so we're working from two until 10, which can get a bit tedious," said Ramin Karimloo, 31, who plays the Phantom in Love Never Dies. Iranian-born Karimloo insists that special effects will not play a big part in the sequel. "The story is the star of the show, not the [effects]," he said.

West End musicals don't have much of a tradition of sequels, and their film counterparts are often criticised as pale imitations. Nevertheless fans have spent more than £8m on advance tickets for the new show.

"I'd compare it to Godfather II; I'm very optimistic. Of course there is pressure, but with all that scepticism, the tickets are still selling out," Karimloo said.

The production, which premieres on 9 March, picks up 10 years after Phantom left off. The scene has shifted from the Paris opera house to New York's Coney Island – home to circuses and freak shows – and the once-shunned musician is celebrated for his success.

The original Phantom, which has been running since 1986, is thought to be the highest-grossing production of all time, making £3.7bn worldwide. Love Never Dies could prove a similar money-spinner for Lloyd Webber.

But the postponed preview is not the only problem dogging the show. Katherine Jenkins is to release her version of the song "Love Never Dies" a week before the show's star Sierra Boggess's single. Despite this, and the technical difficulties, Boggess, 27, insists she is unperturbed: "I'm not reading anything about it. That's helping my anxiety level."

Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian

film
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution