It’s one of the most hotly anticipated shows in years, has received just as much coverage for the negative reviews online as for the show itself and has split critics down the middle.
Andrew Lloyd Webber himself has gone on record to say that people should wait a month before seeing a new musical so one day short of a month after opening night I find myself at the Adelphi to see what all the furore is over Love Never Dies, otherwise known as Phantom Of The Opera 2.
So will I be on the side of the likes of the Independent (5 stars) or the New York Times (who hated it)?
So let’s see what we get for our money? Plot – in serious need of some oil, it takes two hours to get going and that just leaves 25 mins to excite. Music, yes the score is lush but that is mainly down to David Cullen’s expansive orchestrations. Spectacle – some horses in waves pinched from a Guinness advert, some art deco flats and a few pieces of furniture. Direction – static to say the least.
Not going favourably so far then. The problem is that it’s all just so slow and dull. There is no chemistry or tension and you just don’t care about the characters. A character dies at the end but it gets to the point when if they didn’t hurry up you’d go and finish the job off for them.
The main Phantom Ramin Karimloo was off sick for this performance, as was Liz Robertson (Madame Giry). Tam Mutu gave a credible performance as The Phantom with the limited material he is given and Janet Mooney was vocally impressive as Giry. Much has been made of Sierra Boggess as Christine and it is perhaps her rendition of the title number that is the only redeeming feature of the evening. We don’t ever see however any spark of chemistry between Christine and The Phantom to explain their love.
It is a ‘green’ show though – much has already been said about Lloyd Webber’s recycling of the title song from his earlier Beautiful Game but perhaps the show could be re-billed as ‘Magic of The Musicals’ – we get flavours of Salad Days, Sunset Boulevard, Kiss Me Kate, The Boyfriend and even in the otherwise vocally impressive rendition of the title song, an impression of arm-waving Evita.
There is potential here but it needs a serious amount of work. We need to believe the love and the drama and some tension, any dramatic tension needs to be introduced to spark this dead in the water show into life.
WestEnd Whingers blog coined the phrase Paint Never Dries – I’d find paint infinitely more exciting than this dreary show. The show is due to transfer to Broadway in November but I suggest that an entirely new version will be needed by then to save this turkey lasting past Thanksgiving.