At Last: Love Never Dies

 

SPOILERS

Phantoms sequel written by Andrew Lloyd Webber to close his work on his Phantom and what happened next. He talks about the show being written with a very romantic score but she shows didn’t fully come together until it was in Australia with a set designer who is doing Bad Cinderella this year. The song “Til I hear you sing again” was written specifically for Ramin Karmiloo who had been the Phantom at the time. He and Sierra Boggess reprised their roles in the new production and opened the show. It travelled around the world but did not have a long life on the west end. But the show was streamed today on YouTube.

The music starts with Ben Lewis as the Phantom who took over the role in 2017 from Ben Forster. The Phantom is trying to write but you can tell all is not well. Ben is large and domineering and you can tell he is an epic Phantom. The story is set 10 years after the last show. The phantom stares at the portrait of Christine and sings “Til I hear you sing again”. What an opening song for such a show and leaves the expectations high for the rest of the show. The drama and excitement of the stage is set just like in the original.

The new set is a circus on Coney Island which welcomes the audience to the new world with the phantom sitting above the scene. I’m not quite sure why we are in New York? Meg and Madame Girey were with the carnival. Christine was coming to New York to sing at the new opera house. But why are they with him? Meg and Girey stayed with and got him out of France despite all the horrible things he had done. What changed her hatred of him for someone who was so scared of him.

Love Never Dies | Meyer Sound

Christine arrives as a famous singer with her song and Raoul. They both had changed over the years and Christine has not performed in years. The Phantom sends up a carriage to collect the boat. Their child seems sweet and dreamy. Raoul is an angry older man and has gambled them into debt. They had to come and perform to work off a debt. There is trouble between them. Hints of the Phantom are all around.

Christine is finally alone and looks around the room seeing the Phantom all around. Then he appears on the balcony behind her. She faints and runs to her side. The change in the music and the moment they look at each other is quite spectacular. She awakens to see him by her side but she meets him with anger for him hiding from her and he tells her he left her. They talk of a night when she came to find him and they had a night together. The sing about their night and he slowly moves his way to embrace her. The passion between them builds as the music builds as he tells her how he ran from her because of his fear. Christine was going to go with him this time but he ran and left her before they could finally be together. Yet now Christine tells him to go.

Phantom offers double the money for Christine to perform for him in his concert hall. Christine tells him no as Gustav their son arrives having a nightmare and meets the Phantom. The world is dark as the bass of the Phantoms mood changes. The Phantom makes an ultimatum to Christine. If she does not perform him or else, he may take her son. The wickedness of the Phantom reappears showing his true colour. Phantom will do anything he can to get his music back or he will take all she has. What a dick! Christine looks over the music she has left as the Phantom slips away.

Madame Girey, Meg, Raoul and Christine reunite and realise who they are all working for while feigning joy for each other. Meg was to sing as the leading Lady but she finds that she ahs ben replaced by Christine. Meanwhile the Phantom lures Gustav down into his lair. Phantom sees himself in Gustav as he plays at the piano. The scene changes into a rock theme as the Phantom leads Gustave into his worlds and the set changes. “Beauty underneath” is such a different song but it is merged with the Phantoms anthem the song is so majestic and makes so much sense. The Phantom and Gustav are one in the same. Phantom shows him the beauty underneath as he reveals his mask and terrifies Gustav his true face.

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The Phantom confronts Christine about whether Gustav is his. Christine admits it to him and tells him the night they shared Gustav was conceived but she thought the Phantom was dead. The Phantom breaks down and asks for her forgiveness fearing that his son will reject him like she once did. Christine promises to sing once more for the Phantom once more.

Raoul finally gets a song. In Phantom he only ever sang to her or with other people. He is sad and in pain and feeling that he did not deserve her. This is the reason for his drinking to kill the pain of his inadequateness. Raoul is met in the bar by the Phantom. They finally have their face off they never had in the original. The phantom has some things to say to Raoul. They make a bet over Christine’s love on whoever will win her heart. If the Phantom wins Raoul will leave and if not, Raoul’s debt will be lost. What happened to Raoul but somehow in my heart I knew that he would turn out this way. He was too good to be true. The Phantom taunts him with whether Christine has been faithful. Wow they both can be utter bastards. Bu Raoul realises what he has done and runs to Christine.

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Meg finally gets her big debut as Christine gets ready for her performance. Raoul comes to Christine and lays his heart on the line. But then asks her to put her heart on the line and the old Raoul vanishes in a minute. Raoul agrees not to sing but the Phantom watches from the mirror unbeknownst to them. Raoul locks her in the dressing room so that she cannot room and she feels his presence. The Phantom comes to make his argument for why the Phantom should come with him. (There was a moment I laughed here cause Ben’s eye contact is so intense and crazy at one point). I love how they change the lyrics of “Til I hear you sing again” into such a beautiful reprise as he shows her what life could be. This is the choice from both of them. And I’ve got to say The Phantom wins my heart.

Christine is more lost and confused as ever as the Phantom vanishes in a flash. As her angel of music contorts her thoughts and leaves behind. All three cross over for twisted every way as she has to make her horrible choice. Christine appears on stage confused and lost as Phantom and Raoul look out from opposite sides of the wings as she starts to sing. Christine starts to sing “Love never dies” as the two rivals look on. She feels the Phantoms words and accepts her choice.

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The Phantom comes to her after the show and they kiss. Christine finds Raoul’s letter in the dressing room and this time he is watching them from the mirror in the dressing room. He gives his blessing for her to go with the angel of music. Christine realises that he may have taken Gustav. Madame Girey took him for the Raoul. Phantom descends into madness but it was revealed that it was not her. But Meg was angry and they chase after her. For once the Phantom is not the enemy but something he created. This follows by the characters being chased in a sea of crazy circus actors.

Meg had taken Gustav with her to commit suicide in the river. Meg followed the Phantom and became under his spell but her used her and cast her aside for Phantom once more. She lets Gustav go and goes to shoot herself. Phantom tries to talk her out of it and he is succeeding until he mentions Christine. She starts to break down but she accidently shoots Christen. AS she is dying Christine’s confesses who Gustave’s real father is. He runs away while Christine is left in the Phantoms arms. He promises to look after him as Raoul is gone.

As Christine is dying, she asks the Phantom to kiss Christine and though I have always been team Raoul. In the moment that the pair are together and completely free from fear and the world. They embrace and I am team Phantom at last. But as they kiss Christine dies in his arms and the Phantom breaks down. Gustav returns with Raoul to find his mother has died. The family is one just for a second. The two men exchange a look which shows what they know what their ego and anger did to the woman they love.

Love Never Dies - 2012 Film | Love Never Dies - YouTube

Phantom walks to the end of the bridge so hurt and wanting to return to Christine but the moment comes and he cannot go through with it. Gustav meets him and he realises love never dies and Christine is right there with him in Gustav. He can go one without her and with Gustav by his side. The curtain falls as they embrace. Gustav removes his mask but this time embraces the Phantoms face and accepts him as he is. Then the curtain falls.

I have wanted to see this show for years and this was the opportunity I had. I enjoyed Ben Lewis as the Phantom but he really owned the role in this production. This show was so different from the original I am blown away and a little confused by it. The changes in the characters were so extreme but without a lot of context. It feels a little like the end of game of thrones as Dany went insane.

The mood of the show was so different but just those little hints from the original like the bass of the Phantoms evil, the looking out of the mirror on to the scenes brought it back. The music was beautiful, the stand out song was til I hear you sing and they twisted it a few times. I did enjoy the music but it just wasn’t as powerful and potent as last time but I did like the rock twist. There were no other real stand out songs and the show  had so much based on that one show stopper. I think for Phantom it would have been stronger with two more. Think of the original; all i ask of you, masquerade, theme song, think of me, point of no return, angel of music, wishing….. the list goes on. I can only recall 5 names from this one. I do feel a little confused by the show.

I have always been a Raoul avid but the show changed my allegiance but still what life could the Phantom had offered for Christine. Is love all that mattered? If Raoul changed back to the man that she once knew and fought so hard for her would she get that happiness she had before. What would Gustav had found. And also, why didn’t the pair have any children. The time line was confused. She sought him out shortly after they left but Madame Girey got him out of France right after the Opera catastrophe. When did meg fall so in love with the Phantom and did, he mean to use her? Things went downhill for Christine and Raoul after they got married which must have been after the disaster so she was unmarried when she fell pregnant. Some aspects just don’t make sense.

But if you strip the show down to just the main characters without the whole carnival façade. It is beautifully written and has the passion and drama required. It would never be the same as the original but it achieved something the original never had. It put me on team Phantom! What else could I say. That is an achievement!

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