New York Times
March 9, 2010
Link to actual article
Down Once More to the Dungeon: The Phantom Prepares for His Return“Remember,” warns the title character of a long-running Broadway musical, “there are worse things than a shattered chandelier.”
So take pity on the poor Phantom of the Opera, whose stomach right now must be as twisted as that aforementioned candelabrum and whose nerves must be as wrecked as his abhorrent face. On Tuesday night he returns to the stage in an official sequel to the Andrew Lloyd Webbermusical “The Phantom of the Opera,”called “Love Never Dies.”
The sequel, with music by Mr. Lloyd Webber and book and lyrics by Glenn Slater, has been in previews at the Adelphi Theater in the West End since late February, and a Broadway run is already planned. Ben Brantley will review the London production for The New York Times, and you can wager your last papier-mâché music box that fans and critics around the world will also be weighing in.
In the meantime, how is the new Phantom faring with theatergoers who have seen it in previews?
Not so well. In a lengthy thread at the message board of the British theater Web site What’s on Stage, a commenter named Steve10086 kicked off the discussion by comparing “Love Never Dies” with another of Mr. Lloyd Webber’s il-fated productions: “It’s the characters from ‘Phantom,’ ” he wrote, “but at the pace of ‘The Woman in White.’ ” The commenter added that he wished, “apart from a very few highlights, that it wasn’t so boring.”
Another commenter, applesarenice, praised the show’s set as “really impressive in parts” with “much use of projections, some of which were breathtakingly good, others … not so much.”
“Best of the lot,” the commenter added, “is Phantom’s lair, very Addams family, and it is all the about the chandelier.”
A third commenter, Misplaced, praised the show’s music and cast members but criticized the story, writing:
I think the ending is a bunch of people standing around onstage in the musical equivalent of twiddling their thumbs. The pacing is all wrong, and it just drags. This isn’t helped by the nondramatic “plotline.” I almost jumped up and cheered “yay!” simply because the scene finally ENDED.
Elsewhere online, “Love Never Dies” has even spawned a Facebook protest group called Love Should Die, which declares in its mission statement:" We feel strongly that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest musical, LOVE NEVER DIES, is a completely misguided venture that is a detriment to the story of the original PHANTOM OF THE OPERA novel and musical of the same name … Virtually everything about the show strikes us as illogical, irrational, offensive and frankly stupid."
For his part, Mr. Lloyd Webber is so far shrugging off the early criticism. He told Reuters that if anyone with Internet access “had seen the first preview of ‘Cats,’ I think it would have been closed.”