By Brad Haynes
When the gorgeous Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts opened its doors in 2014, the first Broadway show to grace its Walt Disney Theater stage was Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Phantom of the Opera. And now, three years later, the Phantom sequel, Love Never Dies, has arrived.
Said to take place 10 years after the events of the original production, Love Never Dies finds the masked man (Bronson Norris Murphy), now known as Mister Y, heading up what appears to be a combination freak/burlesque show known as Phantasm on Coney Island. Apparently, while he was being hunted down in Paris, he was saved by Madame Giry (Karen Mason) and her daughter Meg (Mary Michael Patterson), who traveled across the Atlantic with him and helped him get Phantasm going.
Word spreads that Christine Daaé (Meghan Picerno) will be traveling to New York and singing at the opening of Oscar Hammerstein’s (remember, the composer of all of those great musicals was a junior) new opera house. She will also be bringing along her husband Raoul (Sean Thompson) and her young son Gustave (Jake Heston Miller).
When the Phantom learns that his long lost love will be so close, he begins plotting a way to get her to once again sing for him, and to once and for all win her away from Raoul.
Originally unsuccessful in London’s West End, Love Never Dies had a modicum of success when the show was revamped for a production in Australia. The production currently on tour is the same as the one seen in Australia.
Unfortunately, while the changes may have helped some, Love Never Dies is still not much of a show, relying on rehashing much of the plot of Phantom, just setting it in a different locale. Additionally, many of the things which were baffling in Phantom, such as his ability to appear in a mirror, etc., are once again at play here, and still just as unexplainable. This is just a mere mortal we’re dealing with here.
Very little of the music in Love Never Dies is memorable, although the simplicity of the title tune, and its placement toward the close of the show, makes it highly likely that you will be humming it as you leave the theater.
Murphy, who typically serves as understudy but will be playing the Phantom during the Orlando run, has a strong voice, easily tackling the wide range of the songs, but seems a little young in the role.
Picerno, who has a lovely soprano voice, lacks any subtlety in her acting, finding it hard to actually believe many of her choices.
If you’re a true Phantom devotee, and there are plenty out there, there is no way you would want to miss Love Never Dies. For the rest, it’s a show that could easily be skipped.
Love Never Dies plays the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, Nov. 21-24; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25; and 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 26. Click here to purchase tickets.