Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Andrew Lloyd Webber has created a new masterpiece to follow up his classic, timeless 1986 musical, The Phantom of the Opera. Only trouble is, this sequel, Love Never Dies, is only in theaters for one more night, Wednesday, March 7th.
If you are not familiar with NCM Fathom Events, you should look into it. Single-handedly, they are opening the minds of movie-goers across the country, informing us that our local movie theaters hold much more potential than simply watching movies. They host a a wide array of in-theater events, bringing famous stage plays to the movie screen, operas, concerts, and events of all kinds.
So that brings us to Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies, the most recent in-theater Fathom Event. It begins with a 15 minute forward from Andrew Lloyd Webber himself, who fills us in on the who, when, where and why of Love Never Dies.
What follows is nothing short of stunning. You basically are in a movie theater, but watching a live stage production. The difference is that it is shot like a film, with sweeping camera angles, close-ups, and cuts. Never before have we been able to get so intimate with stage performers, especially if you are used to watching plays from the balcony cheap seats.
As any fan of The Phantom of the Opera can attest, the magic is not necessarily in the plot, but in the amazing orchestral numbers that are woven throughout the entire production. How is it that Andrew Lloyd Webber was able to create a new score that compliments the original so well, yet stands on its own so brilliantly? As a big fan of the original, I never in my wildest dreams thought that this sequel would hold the same power and brilliance. I was wrong.
In Love Never Dies, the plot is as straight-forward and hokey as one might suspect. The Phantom has fled the Paris Opera house and has taken up residence at Coney Island, a sort of wondrous New York carnival. Among other performers and freaks, The Phantom has began a new life, but agonizes over losing his beloved Christine Daae. In an effort to win back his love, the Phantom lures Christine and her family to this new unknown world.
Though the story lacks a bit of depth, it has always been about the music. "The Coney Island Waltz," "Only for Him/Only for You," "Look with Your Heart," "Why Does She Love Me?" "Devil Take the Hindmost," and "Love Never Dies," are all destined to be just as memorable and enchanting as "The Music of the Night," and "All I Ask of You," from the original. Thematically, lyrically, and rythmically, the new score echoes the old, and the two exist perfectly as companion pieces.
The ending of Love Never Dies was unexpectedly powerful, and fulfilling, and appropriate too, for many of the characters. As our characters have grown and matured, so has the complexity of their feelings, and their definitions of love itself.
Featuring a cast of over 36 actors, including Ben Lewis as Phantom and Anna O'Byrne as Christine, and featuring a 21-piece orchestra, Love Never Dies is a must-see for any fan of the stage, and any fan of the original production.
It is a shame that tonight will be the only chance that an American audience gets to experience Love Never Dies. This production, shot in Melbourne, Australia, has no plans whatsoever of opening in the US, and this is the last showing of it through Fathom Events.
If you consider the price of a Broadway ticket, your movie theater admission is a steal to be able to witness such an enchanting spectacle. Do yourself a favor and get yourself out there tonight for Love Never Dies.
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