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)
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Bill Clinton portrait features Monica Lewinsky reference, artist admits
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 5 Average penis size revealed: Scientists attempt to find what is 'normal' to reassure concerned men
Poldark star Heida Reed says show is not that racy: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
Historian: ‘Disney was right to show King John as a villain' in Robin Hood
Glastonbury 2015: Coldplay will not headline but Florence Welch might play, says Emily Eavis
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut