“Love Never Dies”

I took my mother to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies at the Providence Performing Arts Center last night; the tickets were her Christmas present. The play is a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, taking place ten years after the original. According to the sequel, the Phantom was rescued by Madam and Meg Giri; they made their way to New York, where the Phantom created Phantasma, a Coney Island attraction, but he is still pining for Christine.

In the meantime, Christine has become a world-famous opera singer, married Raoul, and had a son Gustave. Christine has come to New York to open Oscar & Hammerstein’s new opera house. The Phantom outbids Hammerstein to get Christine to sing at Phantama, it’s not immediately obvious to Christine and Raoul who did the outbidding, but the Phantom reveals himself to Christine, meets Gustave, and threatens her family if she does not perform.

Beyond that point, the play spends a fair amount of time asking whether “will she or won’t she” sing for the Phantom. I won’t spoil the ending by going into the plot further than that.

The production was sumptuous, and the sets were gorgeous. For me, like the first time I saw Phantom, it was hard to follow what was going on, because nearly everything is sung, and it’s always hard to understand the lyrics to songs. It helped a little to check Wikipedia during the intermission.

I really enjoyed the music. There were just enough call backs to the Phantom music to tie the two plays together, but most of the music was original. Some of the numbers were really good. I especially liked the piece — weird though it was — where the Phantom shows Gustave and Christine his Aerie in the bowels of Phantasma.

My mother and I both felt that the plot kind of left the rails in the second act. There are a couple of plot twists that just felt really improbable, and that some of the things that were going on were out of character.

That being said, we both enjoyed it, The music was good; the production numbers were excellent. I think I might enjoy it better, if, like the second time I saw Phantom, I’d read the lyrics ahead of time so I knew what the characters were saying. Love Never Dies is touring North America, and it’s headed to Pittsburgh and Cleveland before coming to Boston the end of this month.