The show that Phantom fans have been waiting for has finally arrived – Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new musical Love Never Dies has opened in the West End, and the critics’ reviews are all in!
Even though I firmly believe that theatre breaks are something you have to experience firsthand to make your own mind up about a show, it’s always useful to read what the experts think – even if it’s just so you can heartily disagree with them after seeing the show yourself!
So, has the long-awaited sequel managed to live up to expectations?
Looking over the reviews since the musical opened last night at the Adelphi Theatre in the Strand, it would be fair to say that critical response has been a mixed bag. This is understandable, as The Phantom of the Opera was such a genre-defining hit, it would be hard to top. But reading interviews with Andrew Lloyd Webber over the past few months, I don’t think that was ever his intention – Love Never Dies is a sequel after all, not a re-make. I see it as something to please Phantom fans who were left hungry to find out more about what happened to the famous masked villain after he left the Paris Opera House.
I can’t remember the last time a show divided critics this much – Charles Spencer of the Telegraph gives Love Never Dies four stars, calling it “Lloyd Webber’s finest show since the original Phantom, with a score blessed with superbly haunting melodies and a yearning romanticism that sent shivers racing down my spine.”
Other reviewers were less favourable though, with Bloomberg’s Warwick Thompson criticising “the bizarre mechanics of the plot,” though he still gave it a fair three out of five. I’ve deliberately avoided reading too much about what the story involves as I didn’t want to spoil it, but in my opinion, the more twisted and unpredictable it can be, the better!
So while some of the theatre experts don’t seem to be able to get over their disappointment that this isn’t just a re-tread of the original Phantom, I think it sounds like a show that’s well worth seeing. Andrew Lloyd Webber could have just repeated the original and had a sure-fire hit on his hands, but instead he tried something new and a little different to take the Phantom experience further, and that’s just the kind of show I’d like to see.
If you’ve heard the new hit song ‘Til I Hear You Sing’ from the show’s official website, you should be able to decide for yourself whether it’s worth making the trip to London to catch the show everyone will be talking about this spring. I’m off to book my tickets now!