Love Never Dies
Love Never Dies, the sequel to Phantom of the Opera, is a treat for both the ears and the eyes, and is currently playing at the Orpheum Theater through July 1st. The show takes place 10 years after the Phantom of the Opera left off. Christine and Raoul are now married, unhappily, the Vimcomte has lost his money to gambling and drinking, and they travel to New York with their son Gustave, for Christine to perform and earn enough money to pay off Raoul's debts. Unbeknownst to them, the Phantom, Madame Giry and Meg are also in New York, having built a show in Coney Island after fleeing the authorities after the end of the Phantom of the Opera. The old cast reunites, tensions flare, and once again we are introduced to the love triangle between Christine, Raoul and the Phantom and the question of who she will chose.
This love triangle story is tired, and both of the men are terrible and controlling. Raoul dictates Christine's life regardless of the fact that she is the one saving him, and the Phantom reintroduces himself to Christine by ordering her to sing or else he will destroy everything she has ever loved. But this high drama, and the toxic masculinity that fills the show, feels like a classic opera. It makes me think of a line in the original Phantom of the Opera, "you'd never get away with all of this in a play", but somehow the enchanting set designed by Gabriella Tylesova, and beautiful music by Andrew Lloyd Webber leads me to forgive, but not forget, the plot details the show.
A lot of this forgiveness is thanks to the cast, who give fantastic performances. A great number of them have a background in opera, which came across in the full and deep sound of the show. Bronson Norris Murphy took over the role of Phantom when the show arrived in Minneapolis. He has a beautiful voice, and portrayed the psychopathic nature of the Phantom well. I did not feel much chemistry between himself and Christine, played by Meghan Picerno. Picerno gave a wonderful performance. Christine is more mature than the last time we saw her, but the lovely soprano is still there and is best heard in the beautiful title song "Love Never Dies". The most impressive performance of the night was given by the youngest member of the cast, Jake Heston Miller as Gustave. His vocal performance in the lead up to "The Beauty Underneath" made my jaw drop.
Love Never Dies is a nice sequel to Phantom of the Opera that doesn't quite reach the heights of its predecessor. The show is beautiful and the cast is wildly talented. The plot and the character and relationships left some things to be desired.
If you are a lover of opera, a fan of Phantom of the Opera or a lover of Coney Island then the show is well worth seeing.
Love Never Dies is playing the Orpheum Theater until July 1st.
*Photos by Joan Marcus