In the world of movies, sequels are frequent, heading to the big screen if there’s money to be made, or direct-to-home release if the sequel isn’t anticipated to be as hot a ticket the second time around. In the world of musical theatre, sequels are few and far between (did you know there was an Annie 2, attempted?) Love Never Dies, the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, now playing at the Cadillac Palace Theatre gives the musical sequel an admirable shot.
Same Characters, Different Story in Love Never Dies
Although Love Never Dies transplants the action from Paris to Coney Island, many characters remain the same from Phantom of the Opera. Christine (Meghan Picerno) and Raoul (Sean Thompson) are now married with a ten-year-old son, Gustave (played by Casey Lyons at press opening). Happy as they were ten years ago, now their relationship has darkened: Raoul is struggling with gambling debt and it seems there’s less of a spark there for Christine. Christine has been lured from Paris to sing at the opening of a new opera house; however, things are not what they seem and quickly Christine is reunited with the Phantom (Gardar Thor Cortes), who seems hell-bent on winning her back. Also present in Love Never Dies are Madame Giry (Karen Mason) and her daughter, Meg (Mary Michael Patterson), who now work with the Phantom on Coney Island. Through some slightly dubious twists in characterization, Meg and Madame Giry become jealous of Christine’s success.
Broadway in Chicago Production Values Music and Spectacle Over Story
With bombastic orchestrations by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Love Never Dies is pure melodramatic spectacle. Directed by Simon Phillips, this production values its sweeping songs and lush design over story and characterization. Gabriela Tylesova’s scenic and costume design is impressive, ornate, and macabre. With a sweeping, twisting roller coaster track, flashing lights, and colorful tent-shaped backdrops, it immerses you fully in the creepy carnival of Coney Island in the early 1900s.
The spectacle of Love Never Dies pairs wonderfully with Webber’s soaring score, sung with passion and precision by Picerno, Thompson, and Cortes. While diction makes some of Glenn Slater’s lyrics hard to decipher, Phillips’ visual feast is rich enough to let the experience wash over you. No song illustrates this better than “The Beauty Underneath,” a number which echoes the 80s-rock vibe of The Phantom of the Opera and features stunning mirrored obelisks that rotate on a revolving stage and light up to reveal the twisted forms of circus freaks trapped within them. Even so, while Phantom purists may be willing to overlook some of the book’s weaknesses, some audiences may wish that the story’s substance measured up to the detailed and engrossing production design.
Cadillac Palace Theatre
151 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL
Through March 4th, 2018
Tuesdays at 7:30PM
Wednesdays at 2:00PM & 7:30PM
Thursdays at 7:30PM
Fridays at 7:30PM
Saturdays at 2:00PM & 8:00PM
Sundays at 2:00PM
*Additional evening performance on Sun., Feb. 18
$35-$100 with a select number of premium seats available.
Tickets are available at all Broadway In Chicago Box Offices (24 W. Randolph St., 151 W.Randolph St., 18 W. Monroe St. and 175 E. Chestnut), the Broadway In Chicago Ticket Line at (800) 775-2000 and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com.
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago
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