Love Never Dies – Review


I posted earlier this year when Love Never Dies opened and said then that I’d see it in a “few months time”, well I finally got the chance yesterday, so what did I think????

It’s had a huge amount of attention and comment made, both in the theatrical press and also the blogosphere. I’ll be honest I went with a bit of trepidation. I’m a HUGE Phantom of the Opera fan, I think it’s one of the best musicals ever, and to me it ticks all the right boxes, story, score, spectacle. Would Love Never Dies, build on that or simply be a bit of a damp squib in comparison to the original in my mind?

I bought the soundtrack to Love Never Dies in the summer as I was keen to hear it as I liked the title song and “‘Til I Hear You Sing Again.”. I’ve never bought a soundtrack prior to seeing a show, but it certainly gave me a familiarity with the score before seeing it. I’m not sure I’d buy a soundtrack prior to seeing a show again though, as I had a load of pre-conceptions in my imagination to how I “saw” the show.

I’m aware that many changes have been made to it since opening and that they are in fact closing the show for four days later this month to implement further changes. Having seen “Mark 1”, I’m intrigued to find out what they decide to change.

The score itself has some wonderful moments, the opening Coney Island Waltz, really is beautiful and the visuals created on stage are breathtakingly wonderful. “‘Til I Hear You Sing”, is certainly the song of Act 1 for me, although “Look with Your Heart”, is a charming and sweet song, that seeing live I appreciated more than I originally had on the CD. There is an incongruous song in Act one, “The Beauty Underneath”, which when I heard it originally on my iPod, I thought I’d downloaded a rogue song! Seeing it in the show did little for me, and I still feel it needs changing as it really doesn’t fit in. It’s a good song, and frustratingly gets wedged in one’s mind, but it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Act II, I felt worked much better, the orchestras overture set the scene perfectly and it seemed to flow better than Act I. “Love Never Dies” is definitely the song of this act and it was sensational to hear this performed live.

The entire cast was excellent, but special mention must got to;

Ramin Karimloo

Ramin Karimloo was perfect as The Phantom, he played him with just the right amount of menace and sense of “tortured genius”. His voice is also amazing and this score shows that off. It’s easy to see why Andrew Lloyd Webber wanted him to perform the title role. He’s definitely made it his own and has set the standard for all who follow in his shoes for this show. I know I keep harping on about it but “‘Til I Hear You Sing”, is for me THE song of the show, and Ramin Karimloo’s performance yesterday, took my breath away.

Lucy Van Gasse (Photo by

We were fortunate to see it with Lucy Van Gasse playing the part of Christine Daaé. WOW, WOW, WOW, she was brilliant. she filled the whole theatre with her soaring voice. Yet the gentleness and tenderness of Christine came to the fore as and when required. Her performance of Love Never Dies is without doubt one of the highlights of the show.

Summer Strallen

Summer Strallen was gloriously radiant as Meg Giry, she had some great fun numbers, her quick changes during “Bathing Beauty”, were executed superbly and her beaming smile throughout her numbers was infectious. She was clearly loving this role and we caught that vibe. Her character has perhaps the longest journey of them all and as the show comes to its conclusion we see the price she’s paid. Ms Strallen showed us this journey with magnificent skill.

The general feedback from people seems to be that the story is the big let down of the show, and while I don’t think it’s the shows strong point , it’s not as awful as many make out and certainly no more predictable that 90% of other musicals. As I’ve said before on this blog, if you’re going to a musical expecting a deep complicated storyline, that’s probably a false expectation. I was disappointed that there wasn’t more humour in it, especially as Ben Elton is one of the writers.

As with any production of this scale it’s a huge team of people who help it come together. Jon Driscoll’s outstanding projections really must be mentioned. These are incredible and add so much to the show. The first scene’s projection is amazing and if you have any interest in theatrical effects or where modern technology is taking the art form, go and see this and pay close attention to his projection. I was also keen to see what Scott Penrose had contributed from a “special effects” point of view. His illusions and handiwork were used throughout and added to the overall magical nature of Coney Island and The Phantoms lair.

It’s a spectacular show both visually and musically, hearing a full orchestra and cast perform the score was much better than on CD, and visually it’s an orgy of effects and visuals that are staggering. Here’s a few tasters;

If you’re a fan of Phantom, Lloyd Webber or musical theatre I’m confident you’ll like and enjoy this production, it’s certainly not as bad as many are reporting, admittedly it’s had a good six months to bed down, but that’s to be expected, it’s foolish to think a show of this scale is going to be perfect on the first few previews! It will be very exciting to see what changes are made at the end of this month, rumour has it that the ending may change and that Charles Hart (lyricist from original Phantom) will be helping to re-write the lyrics. I’m glad I got to see “Mark 1” and look forward to seeing “Mark 2”. Personally the ending does need changing and Raoul needs to be changed as he’s a complete wimp currently!

Overall this ticks most of my boxes and I had an enjoyable time watching and experiencing this show and seeing how the Phantom story continued. I’m curious to hear others opinions on what they thought so please feel free to add comments. Once I’ve seen the updated version I’ll add a review.




18 thoughts on “Love Never Dies – Review

  1. I wasn’t too keen on going to see this, loved Phantom but from all the bad reviews I didnt want it to dampen my thoughts on the original. Will definitley go and see it one of the next times I’m in London, maybe even the time of the study weekend!

    Cheers Dom


  2. hi Jamie,

    You have exactly the same thoughts I was having, seriously, if you loved Phantom you’ll enjoy this. It’s no quite up to the Phantom, but then very few musicals are. It’s certainly not as awful as so many have said. I also think the changes they’re about to make will improve it too.
    Look forward to seeing you again at the study weekend!

  3. You state, “If you’re a fan of Phantom, Lloyd Webber or musical theatre I’m confident you’ll like and enjoy this production, it’s certainly not as bad as many are reporting…”

    We would like to bring to your attention the hundreds of Phantom fans (Phans) who are against the sequel and heavily dislike the music, horrendous story, and the trite lyrics.

    May we also remind you, the show is closed for 5 days in order to receive a major revamp. If the reviews reported by theatre critics, audience members, and fans all seem positive, then why has Andrew Lloyd Webber decided to close the show for a week in order to make changes? We smell something fishy here.

    Unfortunately, there are no amount of changes that will correct the injustice ALW has created to the once powerful story and ending of the original he created. Webber has destroyed the characters we all know and love. Meg turns into a murderous whore, Raoul a gambling drunk, Christine bares Phantoms child, and Phantom himself turns into a powerless ninny.

    Phantom Needs NO Sequel!

  4. Hi,

    thanks for the comment.

    As you can see from my review and comment above, I’m well aware that the show is closing for five days for changes that I feel are needed.

    I’m intrigued to know if you’ve seen it or not?

    I stand by my review and will post another when I see the updated version.

    Did Phantom need a sequel? Probably not, but there IS one now and yes it’s not been as good as it should have been but the production has had changes and will continue to. As I state in my review the ending apparently is going to be changed and that’s good. It’s not unusual for shows to go through changes in their runs, and it’s good the ALW has taken onboard the criticisms.

    I agree about Raoul he’s certainly a powerless ninny currently, but Meg’s character is the strongest of the production and certainly the one with the biggest journey, again I wish that was developed earlier rather than just recapped in the closing moments. The Phantoms child seemed a bit too coincidental and took the story to a place I didn’t feel it needed to go.
    I thought the Phantom was good though, certainly not a powerless ninny!

    I still prefer the original!

  5. I saw it on the reopening night. It was fantastic, but the best part was literally running into Andrew Lloyd Webber at intermission! What a treat! I loved the suspense, the stage and the voices were superb. I have been a fan of Phantom for many years and I was nervous about a sequel, but I am pleased with the production and would highly recommend it

  6. I saw Love Never Dies in London on Saturday November 20th 2010
    I have been a Phantom of the opera fan for the past 12 years and I hate the ending. I loved the music and the plot but the ending needs to be fixed it made me depressed and even though I can see how it plays into the title Love Never Dies. I think that if the ending was fixed, more Phantom fans would leave happy, with the current ending I can see the show closing. And think that if they keep the current ending it would have been better to just not have a sequel. To come so close to what ever phantom fan wants then end like that is just not right. I will not say the ending for people who have not seen LND but for those of us who have you know what I am talking about.

  7. Hi Caireesa,

    I read this blog post today;

    He seems to suggest the beginning has been changed – I LOVED the opening scene with the Coney Island Waltz and projections, I’ll be REALLY upset if they’ve altered that as I agree the ENDING is what needs the most work.

    No doubt Mark Shenton will be off to see the new version before me and I look forward to seeing what he thinks, once I’ve been (which won’t be until the new year), I’ll post a review of the ‘2nd Edition”.

  8. Thanks Dominick,

    And I agree with you the opening scene is amazing they should keep it. I just read link you sent me, I feel they can come up with a new ending whether it means changing the current last scene or adding another scene which has the shot but it misses this would keep with the sound track. And just having the shot not be fetal. it would not be that hard. One possibility they might change the opening if they are changing the ending, maybe it is a happy ending in which case Coney Island continues to be successful. This is just a guess.

    Thanks for keeping me posted I appreciate it.

    Look forward to hearing what you think about the show when you see the 2nd Edition. I don’t know when I will get the chance to see it again. And unless I know they change the ending I don’t know if I want to see it again.
    I have been listening to the music a lot and just not listening to the end.

    Happy to have you to talk to about LND

  9. I Love that idea it’s Perfect!!! She could singing to their son love never dies or Raoul could sing love never dies to Christine. And after he dies Christine turns to the only other man she has ever loved then she and her son end up with the Phantom 🙂 it did feel like Raoul gave up a little too easily and then at least he dies a hero with honor.

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