Love Never Dies, billed as the sequel to Broadway's longest ever running musical Phantom of the Opera, opened in Chicago Thursday night at the Cadillac Palace Theatre.
Andrew Lloyd Weber's sequel to Phantom that has been bouncing around since it debuted in London in 2010 to not so loving reviews has opened, closed, been remounted and rewritten through the years since then and is now back again with a new look.
This time, Love Never Dies is in the midst of a 25 city North American tour that will run through September 2018 with high hopes for a Broadway run to follow.
A lot has changed in 10 years since the deformed composer who haunted the grand Paris Opera House was spirited away by Madame Giry.
The Phantom's true love and musical protégée Christine (Meghan Picerno) is now married to Raoul (Sean Thompson) and has a 10-year-old son Gustoff (Casey Lyons).
What hasn't changed is the Phantom's passion for Christine. To those ends, the Phantom lures her to New York to perform at a renowned opera house. Not knowing that the Phantom is behind the plan or that he is even alive, Christine accepts, bringing Raoul,and young son Gustave in hopes that America can give them the financial rewards that they desperately need due to Rauul's drinking and gambling.
The year is 1907, the Phantom now lives amongst the screaming joy rides and freak shows of Coney Island where he lures the family--who do not know what is in store for them.
Meg Giry (Mary Michael Patterson, top) and the ensemble of “Love Never Dies.” photo: Joan Marcus
All the usual suspects from the original Phantom are here including Madame Giry (played beautifully by one of Chicago's favorites Karen Mason) and her daughter Meg (Mary Michael Patterson who was Christine in the Phantom of the Opera on Broadway) .
In addition to Mason, the national tour features two other leading cast members from Chicago: Meghan Picerno, a native of LaGrange who went to Lyons Township, makes a passionate and beautiful Christine while Casey Lyons, a native of Cary, now living in Lake Forest, brings an angelic voice and amazing stage presence to the role of 10-year-old Gustoff.
Gardar Thor Cortes is the man behind the mask, ‘The Phantom.’ The trio of Phantom’s henchmen include Katrina Kemp as ‘Fleck,’ Richard Koons as ‘Squelch,’ Stephen Petrovich as ‘Gangle,
The show has many of the necessary ingredients for a blockbuster musical including lavish orchestration, obsessive love, spectacular costumes, characters already known from Phantom of the Opera and beautiful staging.
Yet, something is still missing. Visually the show is stunning but the story is lacking.
Directed by Simon Phillips (Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical) with new set and costume designs by Gabriela Tylesova, choreography by 2011 Astaire Awards winner Graeme Murphy, lighting design by Nick Schlieper and sound design by Mick Potter, the show has been given a complete makeover with tweaking and re-tweaking ongoing.
Lloyd Webber said he knew about five minutes into seeing its first run-through that he and the new production team had achieved something special. “I have the great joy of being able to say that I think this production is probably the finest one I could ever, ever hope for.”
Will the show go to Broadway? I'd say YES.
Love Never Dies may never be the long-running hit that Phantom of the Opera is but the show, clearly a passion for Andrew Lloyd Webber, who already has put nearly a decade into this project will get better maybe even great.
The man whose fame runs deep beyond Phantom of the Opera with Evita, Cats and Jesus Christ Superstar, seven Tonys, four Grammys, and an Oscar will endure until he gets it right.
Until then, audiences can still enjoy most of the bells and whistles with a top notch cast, a wonderful score and magical staging.
What: “Love Never Dies”
Rating: 3 stars
When: Through March 4
Where: Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph St.
Running time: 2 hours, 25 minutes
Tickets: $35-$100 at 800-775-2000 or here
Subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email
If you would like to keep in touch with what's happening in Chicago, like us on Facebook or subscribe to Show Me Chicago by email. To subscribe, type your email address in the box below and click the "create subscription" button. Our list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.
Filed under: Theater in Chicago