Love Never Dies for Andrew Lloyd Webber Classics

Sarah Berson |
Where: Various Theaters across the country
When: Simulcast on Feb. 28 and Mar. 7 at 7:30 p.m. 
Price: $18

At the end of any riveting performance, the audience demands an encore. With Andrew Lloyd Webber, it appears his entire career is receiving a standing ovation. Revivals of “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Evita” are headed to Broadway, “Phantom of the Opera” recently celebrated its 25th anniversary and the film adaptation of its sequel “Love Never Dies,” hits movie theaters this month.

In “Love Never Dies,” which premiered in London in 2010, Andrew Lloyd Webber reopens the saga of the Phantom and his beloved Christine across the pond in a new setting: turn-of-the-century Coney Island. “It was a sort of very much a place where freaks were normal,” Webber explains in an interview with NYC-ARTS correspondent Paula Zahn. “It was very, very ‘Phantom.’”

"Love Never Dies," the sequel to the "Phantom of the Opera," is set in Coney Island in the early 1900s. Andrew Lloyd Webber said that the freak shows and carnival atmosphere of that neighborhood was a perfect setting for the production. Photo by Jeff Busby.

Set ten years after the end of the original production, the Phantom has relocated to become a Coney Island entrepreneur, but he is unable to shake his obsession with Christine. He lures her to New York City, along with Raoul and their young son, under the pretense of singing for Oscar Hammerstein.

In an interview during production of the film version, Webber said that “Love Never Dies” allowed him to add depth to his characters. “This one really does develop the characters in a way I didn’t have an opportunity to do in the old one,” he said.

The “old one,” as Webber calls it, recently celebrated its 25th anniversary with a staging in London’s Victorian-era Royal Albert Hall. A performance will be broadcast on Great Performances in March.

Before working together on “Evita,” Webber got advice from renowned stage director Hal Prince. “You can’t listen to music if you can’t look at it,” he told him. Webber took this as his mantra when trying to pair costumes and sets by the late Maria Björnson with his music. “In the case of Phantom,” says Webber, “we completely clicked.”


Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber speaks with Paula Zahn on WNET’s NYC-ARTS.

When asked to give advice about what it takes to mount a successful production, Webber doesn’t have all the answers because, as he says, “I guess if I knew, I’d get it right all the time.”

And sometimes Webber doesn’t get it right the first time around. After a lukewarm critical reception, Webber shut down “Love Never Dies” for several weeks as he reworked the plot. When the newer version debuted in Australia, critics praised it. Webber said he remembers calling his wife in England.

“It’s fabulous,” he told her. “They’ve cracked it.”

In terms of surpassing the success of “Phantom,” Webber does not seem too concerned. He attributes the longevity of his shows to the productions themselves. “On the whole,” he said, “I think one has to stay with what one wrote, and if the shows have been around a long time, then that’s what they are.”

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