Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Phantom Stages Return; New Musical Proves Love Never Dies with Opera {Lsquo}freak' in US

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Phantom Stages Return; New Musical Proves Love Never Dies with Opera {Lsquo}freak' in US

Article excerpt


RIDING high on the success of his hit musical The Phantom of the Opera, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber sat down to dinner with the show's acclaimed set designer and friend, Maria Bjornson.

It was the early 1990s, about six years after Phantom's 1986 world premiere in London and the pair certainly had plenty to chat about.

The show was a smash with audiences and critics around the globe and had won an array of awards, as well as helping the composer earn a knighthood.

But despite its success there was something about Phantom that bugged Bjornson.

She didn't like the ending to the tragic love story between the musical's all-singing heroine Christine Daae and the mysterious masked musical genius Erik, known as the Phantom, set in the depths of the Paris Opera House.

"She said to me, 'You know, it's a bit unsatisfactory the ending really - Christine goes off with a rather boring guy (Erik's love rival Raoul), the Phantom disappears, what kind of ending is that? Maybe people will want their money back?'," Lord Lloyd Webber recollects.

Instead of being insulted, the composer's mind began ticking.

Bjornson had planted a seed deep in his creative mind about writing a sequel.

"I just started thinking about that and said to her, 'What would happen if we took the story 10 years later and set it in America, because that would be the logical place for the Phantom to go'," Lord Lloyd Webber said.

"We talked about it and she said, 'That could be very thrilling because if he lived in America, that's the place of penthouses and goodness knows what, this time he could live above everything'.

"I thought there's a gem of an idea. I started to think about it."

At the time, however, neither the composer nor set designer knew it would be 17 years before Lord Lloyd Webber was ready to announce the Phantom's comeback to the world.

Grinning with pride in London last week, Lord Lloyd Webber told a group of international journalists assembled inside Her Majesty's Theatre - where Phantom has been playing for 23 years - he had finally completed his Phantom sequel.

Titled Love Never Dies, the musical is slated to open in London in March 2010, followed by New York in November and then Australia sometime in 2011. …

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