LOVE NEVER DIES, WEST END!! Review By Christine Denny

If ever there was a production that showcased the pure genius of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, this would have to be it. Decadent, golden, mysterious, fantastical, intriguing…… hypnotic even! To be honest, I had no desire to see this particular show, as a sequel to Phantom Of the Opera simply did not appeal to me. But fate stepped in, I was invited to go along and I shall be forever grateful that I didn’t miss this production!
I managed to attend a matinee of the UK, West End Production of LOVE NEVER DIES in its final few days, just hours before I flew out of the country and it was an amazing and captivating spectacle from the very opening scene. A feast for all the senses is how I would describe this production!
The lighting was simply spectacular, with the set and costumes adding to the visual opulence before you. Add to that the rousing score and lyrics, and within the few opening moments, you could sense the audience was transfixed. You could hear a proverbial pin drop in the auditorium!
The opening song ( for want of a better word, for it was far more than that) from The Phantom, played by RAMIN KARIMLOO, was without doubt the most stirring thing I have ever heard, seen or felt during a musical theatre production. His performance was simply breathtaking and his voice sublime. But it was the emotion and committment with which he opened the whole show that set the stage for what was to come. I was left wondering if I would have enough tissues to see me to the end!
In a complete contrast to this,the Coney Island scenes allowed for a foray into the magical and whimsical with stilt walkers, acrobats and show girls. The light hearted nature of these “amusement park” scenes balancing the anguish felt in The Phantom’s Lair which was a place of frustrated love, turmoil and homage to his true love – Christine!
And this brings me to the underlying message in the show – looking beneath the surface to see what people are really about. Not taking people on face value – literally – but more on what they do! It is an exploration of your own values and judgements which delves deep, through the unveiling of the character’s dilemmas, choices and experiences! In the end it is about in finding the value in a person through what they do and who they are, as opposed to how they look.
I have to say that I am a sucker for a show with a universal theme, ideology and moral! And this is where LOVE NEVER DIES packs a real punch. It explores this in a way that connects and makes it real!
Following on from where The Phantom of The Opera left off, we discover where all those initial characters ended up and how the love between The Phantom and Christine has manifested over time! An obsessive, fanatical, unrequited love that has morphed over the years and seeped into the lives of all concerned without them even knowing it! And of course, there is a climax to the whole affair that leaves everyone on the edge of their seats at the end of Act One!
The other characters are all there – but for me, this Musical is all about The Phantom. Amongst all the pomp and grandeur it is his story and the dissection of his personality, behaviour and motivations that really keeps this story pulling you to it – like a magnet! He takes centre stage in such a pivotal way that his presence is just mesmorizing. And this was in no small way due to the supreme vocal and acting ability of the star of this show – Ramin Karimloo! His performance was astounding!
This was a show that I went to with an expectation of not liking it, but to my surprise I was totally swept away in the drama, intrigue and personal anguish of The Phantom. It was simply story telling at its best and the fact that the show was to close the very next day was a real tragedy to me.
How many people would miss out on experiencing this show? How many children would lose the opportunity to be inspired as performers, set designers and actors? How many people would lose the opportunity to lose themselves in the drama, in the moment for a few hours. How many people would lose the opportunity to explore this side of their own nature through this show?
To create such a show…… a show with such power, is a real gift and I felt a truel sadness when I left the theatre knowing that this shining light was soon to be no more.
It makes you wonder how such a production, with such an amazing cast and such stellar production values could possibly close? A victim of the global economy perhaps? Who knows – but I certainly hope to see it resurrected to its glory in the future!
On a bright note however, I would like to give a big shout out to Aussie export Daniel Gourlay who was part of this amazing production.
It is always so great to see our Australian dancers up there mixing it with the best and Daniel certainly did us proud in this show. So I look forward to following his exploits in the future and see where he heads now – but that will be an article for another day!
For now though, in conclusion – it would be inconceivable for me to give away the resolution to all the intrigues in this thrilling masterpiece! This is something you will need to find out for yourselves. But needless to say, that for me, the conclusion to this epic was not what I expected at all!
Does the little boy get it?
What happens to Raoul?
Will Meg ever be happy and get the acclaim she deserves?
Does The Phantom find happiness or resolve himself to a life of abject misery?
And what of Christine – will she finally succumb to her true feelings and live the life she dreams, or will she continue to live her life “duty bound’?
To answer these questions, get yourself a ticket to the Aussie production……..and don’t forget to take a big box of tissues!
It is hard to believe that this phenomenal show is closing in the UK! It is such a shame, as it is a real treat for all your senses!!
What can I say, but get a ticket and strap yourself in for the ride of your life!
The music will take you on an amazing journey of compassion, desperation, regret, passion, longing and most importantly LOVE!
For it is indeed true – LOVE NEVER DIES!
Tickets for Love Never Dies in Sydney go on sale tomorrow!
Christine Denny