‘Love Never Dies:’ The sequel that no one knows exists

| Staff Writer

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s magnum opus, “The Phantom of the Opera,” is celebrating its 30th year on the Broadway stage, and, needless to say, musical theatre fans are excited about the occasion. Fanfare surrounds the show’s twisted romance, haunting score and substantial tradition—with a cost. While I think “Phantom” deserves all the attention it earns, I believe the widespread ignorance of its more recent sequel, “Love Never Dies,” is an injustice against art, the entire theatre community and queen Christine Daae herself.

Here are a few reasons why you should start obsessing over “Love Never Dies” (almost) as much as “The Phantom of the Opera.”

Screen Shot 2018-02-11 at 11.11.29 PMIllustration by Josh Zucker

Everyone loves an underdog

“Love Never Dies” is like the kid who always lives in their sibling’s shadow. If we’re being completely honest, it wasn’t Lloyd Webber’s best choice to try to write a sequel that could never possibly live up to the original. Lloyd Webber, however, considered it a piece that could stand alone. He encouraged audiences to distance their minds and expectations from the style and (implicitly) the caliber of “Phantom.” His hopes for audience reception did not quite come to fruition, with most viewers rejecting the independence of the narrative from the original. It’s hard to follow a classic, but I think that’s part of what makes “Love Never Dies” so great. It’s an extremely ambitious project that everyone would probably love if it weren’t a sequel. The narrative is lovable, the music is enchanting and Lloyd Webber’s artistic vision is clear. At this point, I think he should reclaim “Love Never Dies” for what it is: an underdog story.

The little-known behind-the-scenes drama

Lloyd Webber originally began conceptualizing “Love Never Dies” in the early 1990s, following the instant stardom of “The Phantom of the Opera.” His inspiration was a TV documentary about Coney Island. The project fell apart in its early stages because Lloyd Webber didn’t see his ideas adapting well to the stage. He resurrected the project in 2007, enlisting great directors and producers to help craft a fitting sequel. In May 2007, however, Lloyd Weber’s kitten, Otto, climbed onto his piano and managed to delete the entire score. The sequel thus faced a delay, making its stage debut in 2010. The show, however, never made it to the Broadway stage.

The incredible (but not “Phantom” level) soundtrack

The score for “Love Never Dies” incorporates burlesque stage music, replacing the operatic passages that were so highly acclaimed in “Phantom.” For many, this is where the shortcomings of the sequel become clear. By removing the charm of the opera stage and introducing the Coney Island setting, the classic “Phantom” storyline begins to disintegrate. The “Love Never Dies” soundtrack is beautiful in its own right, despite straying from the “Phantom” sound and style. If you just want to hear more “Phantom” music, you’ll be disappointed. But if you truly enjoy musical theatre and the art that comes with it, “Love Never Dies” won’t disappoint.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening at Washington University and beyond.