Love Never Dies, Adelphi Theatre, London
Thursday 23 December 2010
Andrew Lloyd Webber doesn't wring his hands when things go wrong. Well, maybe he does, but he takes action as well. Some years ago he closed down his show Sunset Boulevard, had the direction spiced up and then reopened a slicker version. He's now performed the same trick with his latest, the Phantom of the Opera sequel Love Never Dies. Deciding after several months that he was unhappy with parts of the (and possibly with the number of bums on seats) he invited the canny West End impresario Bill Kenwright to tweak Jack O'Brien's original direction.
Kenwright's tweaks have given both added focus and added dramatic tension to the show. Gone is the distracting opening with a sub-plot seeming to dominate proceedings, and we are thrown straight in to the coming together of the two principals, the Phantom and his beloved Christine.
The sequel is set in Coney Island, 10 years after the events in Paris of the original. The Phantom now runs a variety palace in Coney Island, cue for some marvellous sets and beguiling projections of carousels. The Phantom's assistant, Madame Giry, played as a disturbing manipulator by Liz Robertson, looking remarkably like Mrs Danvers from Rebecca, and her actress daughter Meg, try to become indispensable to their master, but he has eyes only for Christine. The increasingly unhinged Meg, played by reality-show graduate Summer Strallen, takes an inevitable revenge.
Kenwright seems to have brought a more intimate, even claustrophobic feel to the drama, which is not only deeply romantic but both scary and haunting. The principals shine, Ramin Karimloo a threatening and unpredictable Phantom, Sierra Boggess, a troubled Christine who makes the title song a showstopper, and Joseph Millson, bruising and bruised as her drunken husband.
Lloyd Webber's score is one of his best, not just in the romantic sweep of the title song and at least one other, but in the range of musical styles. The use of Christine's young son, played by Harry Polden, as pivotal to the plot brings eerily haunting music for the young voice reminiscent of Britten's Turn of the Screw in its ghostly quality.
It's a good musical that has got better and rewards a second viewing.
To 28 May (0844 412 4651)
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Germanwings plane crash: Video shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz learning to fly as a teenager
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 4 Germanwings crash: Captain of doomed plane was only 'on board because he changed job to spend more time with his children'
- 5 Ohio Democrat Teresa Fedor speaks out during abortion debate to reveal she has been raped – and is interrupted by laughter from Republicans
Jim Davidson: 'I'd love to host Top Gear but I'm always banned from driving'
Cassetteboy joins forces with Russell Brand for Emperor's New Clothes film
Poldark, review: Demelza’s insouciance is almost as impressive as Ross’ pecs
Jay Z launches streaming service Tidal with help from Kanye West, Rihanna and Coldplay
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew