A quick survey to theatergoers asking for their favorite musical or what comes to mind as the most memorable, and the response would no doubt have Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ high on the list. Viewed by over 130 million people since debuting in 1986, this gothic darling has become somewhat of an unstoppable force. Hoping to continue the magic, Webber has followed-up with ‘Love Never Dies‘ after years of planning. But as with any sequel, there’s inevitably going to be skepticism and divided sentiments. If one can look past the questionable plot and magnified melodrama, this ‘Victorian Circus’ dazzles with its radiant set design, prolific props, and alluringly spectral atmosphere.
Crossing the Atlantic to trade France for the shores of New York, the world of ‘Love Never Dies’ takes place in 1907 on Coney Island – supposedly a decade after the original Phantom events. Still yearning for his love Christine (Meghan Picerno), “The Phantom” (Bronson Murphy) hears news that she has been invited to perform in America by a local theater impresario and composer. Determined to see her again, he anonymously contracts her to perform at his new carnival attraction on the touristy beach resort. Along with her husband Raoul (Sean Thompson) and son Gustave (Jake Miller), the family journeys to Brooklyn, unaware “The Phantom” is actually behind the arrangement and has less than noble plans to rekindle Christine’s affection.
As long as one is generally acquainted with the characters, attendees who haven’t seen ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ production should still be able to follow and understand the storyline. With only a few seats left unsold, all of the negative press that ‘Love Never Dies‘ has received since its debut didn’t seem to affect attendance at Music Hall at Fair Park on Thursday. Sure, the music lacks the haunting artistry of the original, the timeline doesn’t quite match up and the drama dial is turned up so high at moments its hard not to giggle, but ‘Love Never Dies‘ is a success in many other aspects.
The outstanding visuals, captivating costumes, passionate performances and cosmic illumination is enough to make anyone want to drop what they’re doing, find a time machine and run away with the circus in that Goliath carriage! If nothing else, this dark fantasy will provide countless inspiration for your Halloween and Fall adventures!
LOVE NEVER DIES makes its North Texas debut and is presented by Dallas Summer Musicals (DSM) July 24 – August 05, 2018 at the Musical Hall at Fair Park In Dallas.