One of the favourite things I thoroughly enjoy is attending a live musical. Sitting and enjoying the ambience and atmosphere of a live performance; ones inner soul can be uplifted with glorious music, sound, magical scenes and of course the fantastic talents on stage before your very eyes.
On Sunday, 30th October, 2011, my husband and I attended the famed musical “LOVE NEVER DIES” at The Regent Theatre in Melbourne. Here I thought I would share my own thoughts and feelings of my experience.
Firstly, I would like to mention that I am not receiving any payment or compensation for this write up. Also before attending the show, I read many reviews and only got words of praise from those I knew who had attended.
When my husband and I took our seats, the theatre was packed to the rafters, a full house; filled with the young and the young at heart!
Following is THE STORY from the “Love Never Dies” web site.
From the composer of some of the greatest musicals of all time, comes Andrew Lloyd Webber’s breathtaking new musical - Love Never Dies.
Directed by Simon Phillips, with spectacular set and costume designs by Gabriela Tylesova and choreography by Graeme Murphy, Love Never Dies was the winner of 3 prestigious 2010 Helpmann Awards for Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design and Best Lighting Design.
Love Never Dies continues the story of The Phantom of the Opera… featuring one of Lloyd Webber’s finest musical scores performed by a 21 piece orchestra, a stunning cast of 36 including Ben Lewis and Anna O'Byrne, over 300 incredible costumes and a magnificent set illuminated by over 5000 dazzling light bulbs.
The year is 1907. It is 10 years after his disappearance from the Paris Opera House and the Phantom has escaped to a new life in New York where he lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak-shows of Coney Island.
In this new electrically-charged world, he has finally found a place for his music to soar. All that is missing is his love - Christine Daaé.
Now one of the world’s finest sopranos, Christine is struggling in an ailing marriage to Raoul. So, it is with excitement she accepts an invitation to travel to New York and perform at a renowned opera house. In a final bid to win back her love, the Phantom lures Christine, her husband, and their young son Gustave from Manhattan, to the glittering and glorious world of Coney Island… not knowing what is in store for them….
If I may, I am going to now give my own synopsis of the story; for those who do not wish to know the plot or entire story, please do not read further, any personal comments, I will highlight as I do here in blue.
The show begins with The Phantom singing and pinning over Christine, 10 long years have passed, yet he still yearns for her. The Phantom; along with Madam Giry and Meg Giry set off to American (New York) where the Phantom runs and composes his music at the theatre in Coney Island. He makes Meg the star of the show and also has a variety of freak show acts. Madam Giry once again choreographs and is behind the scenes.
Christine Daaé, as we know married her childhood sweetheart Raoul. While still living in Paris, along with their 10 year old son Gustave; Christine receives an invitation from Rogers & Hammerstein to perform at a renowned opera house. She and Raoul except the invitation.
On arrival in this new city and while waiting to be greeted at the train station by Hammerstein himself, the family are told to come aboard a carriage and are escorted to the hotel is on his behalf.
Here we see Raoul being portrayed as angry; accused of being a drunkard husband his finances are in ruins; he has little compassion or care for his family.
I found this scene very disheartening, as Raoul was so caring, lovable and a respectful man in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.
Instead of going to the hotel, the family are kidnapped and taken to Coney Island, lured by the Phantom (without their knowledge).
The next scene within the confines of their quarters; we see Gustave trying very hard to please his father, wanting him to play with him, asking his father questions, yet Raoul, is angry and ignorant towards his son. He does not have time for him. The child is hurt and very upset.
Again, this scene was very upsetting.
Raoul then receives a written message that Hammerstein wishes to meet with him and leaves at once.
Once Gustave is alone with his mother Christine, he reveals how he misses his father and asks her why he does not care for him anymore. (We also learn that Gustave is very musical and is able to play the piano and compose his own music). Here a beautiful song is sung “Look with your Heart”. (One of the two songs I enjoyed throughout the whole show).
Afterwards, Gustave goes to bed and awaits his mother to tuck him in. The Phantom knowing Christine is now alone breaks into her room. Once again he admits his undying passion and love for her. Christine is swept away in the music and fights against her own passions.
Gustave comes out to see why his mother has not come to his room and meets the phantom. Gustave is told the Phantom is an old friend and is promised by him to show the boy the sights. Afterwards Gustave is once again sent to bed and the Phantom then tells Christine she must sing for him or he will corrupt and take her child just as he did with her many years ago. Christine must do as he wishes, and is left in a heap of tears and worry.
Raoul returns angry as Hammerstein did not show up to greet him. He is even more angry and annoyed when Christine reveals that the Phantom made them come and he wants her to sing for him. Raoul asks Christine to leave; however, Christine does not tell Raoul the reason why she must sing.
Again, this was upsetting; what happened to Raoul, he was kind and loving; Christine needed him, he was her life support, she saved 'the love of her life' when the Phantom lured him down to his den in the depths of darkness...my thoughts returned to the beautiful song from the original PHANTOM OF THE OPERA “All I Ask of You" – Raoul and Christine.
The very next day, Madam Giry, Meg Giry, Raoul & Christine meet up, as old friends; also introducing Gustave to them. Madam and Meg are also angry and talking behind their backs about Christine’s return. Madam Giri, convinces Meg, that Christine will ruin all they have worked on over the last 10 years. She believes her mother and is worried that Christine will steal the show. Therefore Meg will no longer be the star and in the lime light.
Without the knowledge of Christine; The Phantom then takes boy to his den where he hears the child play the piano and learns that he has the same talent he did as a small boy. The Phantom then shows Gustave the sights of the Coney Island and also freak shows meaning to corrupt his mind.
Christine and Meg go to find Gustave. When he is found, Meg takes the boy back to the theatre leaving Christine alone again with the Phantom. Once again he threatens her to sing. However, Christine reveals that Gustave is the Phantom’s son.
I would seriously like to know, how this could have occurred (if we look back to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA), Christine was repulsed by him, she fainted when she saw her image he had created; she woke to find a man in a mask whom she was frightened of. She did not stay to ‘make love’ to him. This reveal, really put my husband and myself on a low after this announcement. Were not these words uttered from her lips (I just copied Christine’s part from the "Final Lair" – Phantom, Christine, and Raoul scene in Phantom of the Opera).
CHRISTINE (to the PHANTOM)
The tears I might have shed
for your dark fate
grow cold, and turn to tears
of hate . . .
CHRISTINE (looking at the PHANTOM but to herself)
my fallen idol
and false friend . . .
One by one
illusions shattered . . .
Angel of Music . . .
. . . why this torment?
When will you see
reason . . .?
Angel of Music . . .
. . . you deceived me -
I gave my mind
(her mind – not body)
CHRISTINE (quietly at first, then with growing emotion)
of darkness . . .
What kind of life
have you known . . .?
God give me courage
to show you
you are not
alone . . .
Madam Giri the whole time was hiding amongst the shadows and over heard this announcement and tells Meg their plight and what will become of their theatre; Meg believes she no longer will be the star of the show and has been taken for a fool; she is angry and upset.
After the interval; half the theatre was empty; rows and rows of seats were unoccupied. It was astonishing to see that many people just leave. Was it perhaps due to the story line?
Raoul is found in a bar drunk and wondering why Christine would love him. He sings a song of “Why Does She Love Me”, naming all his faults, putting himself down etc, Meg happens to see him in the bar and tells Raoul that he must leave with his family or something bad will happen if Christine sings again for him.
The Phantom also comes upon Raoul in the pub. Raoul has to make his choice once more, if Christine leaves with Raoul and the boy, the Phantom will never contact them again; however, if she sings he must leave Christine and boy and never return ; Raoul agrees (yet due to his drunkard state regrets this) and runs to theatre to find Christine dressed and almost ready to perform.
Raoul convinces Christine to leave with her now and he goes to prepare the carriage for their departure. Of course the Phantom overheard this conversation and convinces her to stay with him and sing; Christine admits her love for him has never died.
Yet, if this was the case, why did she leave the Phantom and depart with Raoul; the Phantom, let them go (or perhaps Andrew Lloyd Webber forgot his own music):
Take her - forget me - forget all of this . . .
Leave me alone - forget all you've seen . . .
Go now - don't let them find you!
Take the boat - leave me here - go now,
don't wait . . .
Just take her and go - before it's too late . . .
Go . . .
Go now - go now and leave me!
(RAOUL and CHRISTINE move off towards the boat.
The PHANTOM looks mockingly at his mask. The
musical box starts up magically, and he listens to it)
Masquerade . . .
Paper faces on parade . . .
Masquerade . . .
Hide your face
so the world will
never find you . . .
(CHRISTINE re-enters and walks slowly towards him.
She takes off her ring and gives it to the PHANTOM)
Christine, I love you . . .
(She hurries off The PHANTOM puts the ring on his
CHRISTINE (In the distance, to RAOUL, as the boat
pulls away in the shadow)
Say you'll share with
love, one lifetime . . .
say the word
and I will follow you . .
Share each day with me . . .
. . . each night . . .
. . . each morning . . .
Christine is on stage singing “Love Never Dies” (the second song I like from the entire musical) while both the Phantom and Raoul watch either side of the stage; Raoul is then seen leaving.
After the performance; Gustave is missing and so is Meg; Madam Giri, Christine and The Phantom go searching. Meg who has gone mad (the song sung) ; is found on a pier about to drown the boy, yet The Phantom convinces her that everything is fine and calms her down. The Phantom manages to retrieve the boy; however Meg pulls a gun and shoots Christine. Gustave runs to his mother while the Phantom cradles Christine in his arms. Madam Giri takes Meg away to find Raoul.
Christine, knowing she will die, tells Gustave that The Phantom is his real father in which Gustave runs away in dismay and Christine dies kissing phantom.
Raoul arrives with boy to find Christine dead in arms of The Phantom who is also in tears.
The Phantom gives Christine back to Raoul; Gustave runs to his dead mother. The boy then realises that he must stay with The Phantom and runs to him. Meanwhile, Raoul is left in centre stage holding his dead wife.
This would also have to be the first time I have walked out of a theatre and musical at the end of the show without the feeling of joy, excitement and a “wow, I loved it, I would love to see it again”.
“Love Never Dies”, was very disappointing to say the least. I came out of the theatre feeling sad, angry and deflated. It was not the like anything else I had seen. I did not feel happy or excited after the show; I definitely will not see it again (even if I did get free tickets).
I also now wish I had not seen “love never dies” as I absolutely LOVED the original PHANTOM OF THE OPERA; this new sequel has put a damper on first story now.
On a positive note, the stage props, the scenes, costumes, backdrops and stage was amazing. It was a spectacular sight indeed. The actors were fantastic and extremely talented, especially the child who played Gustave on our particular evening. Therefore on a scale from 1 to 10, I would give “Love Never Dies” a number 3.
Unfortunately, as for the story, I do believe Andrew Lloyd Webber really got this one wrong, and if you do wish to attend the performance, I will leave the rest for you to decide.