This Opening Night in late-November proved to be abnormally warm. What was the change? Global warming? A heat wave? Or perhaps an air of evil settled upon The Fox Theatre?
Since the announcement of Broadway in Atlanta’s 2017/18 Season I have had this date, November 28, circled on my calendar. Even with blockbusters like the Lion King, Rent, and Hamilton coming to town, I was most excited about Love Never Dies. “Why?” You might ask? Well, that’s because I’ve been waiting for a sequel to Phantom of the Opera for almost 20 years.
Phantom of the Opera is the longest-running musical in Broadway history, just to give you an idea of how much pressure and anticipation has been riding on this (sequel). If you’re a first-timer or just attending this performance as part of the 2017/18 season, you’re sure to enjoy the performance. For those of you who are purists like me (I’ve seen Phantom 13 times in 6 different cities in 2 different countries), you will be thoroughly pleased with the story, direction, set design, characters, and of course, the singing.
In Love Never Dies, we are propelled 10 years into the future to Coney Island in 1907. The Phantom has taken refuge in New York after escaping Paris unscathed (Oh you thought he was dead? Phantom ended with those in pursuit finding his mask and nothing more. You never actually saw what happened to him). Even though he’s escaped to the USA he still lives in hiding and goes by the alias “Mister Y”.
The Phantom (Bronson Norris Murphy) has transformed his part of Coney Island into an amusement park that could be described as Cirque du Soleil meets A Nightmare Before Christmas. This themed spectacle is called “Phantasma” and everything from the set design to the costumes are out of this world.
Mister Y is missing something from the pieces he’s writing. That missing ‘something’ is the voice of Christine Daaé (Meghan Picerno). So he makes plans to lure her to Coney Island by inviting her to sing an opera made especially for her. She obliges the invitation out of her own desire but also because of debts created by Raoul’s (Sean Thompson) incessant gambling and drinking.
The main acts who double as hosts at Phantasma are Fleck (Katrina Kemp), Gangle (Stephen Petrovich), and Squelch (Richard Koons). It’s deep in the heart of the amusement park where Mister Y chose his lair. Everyone at the park is at his command, even the two familiar faces that followed him from Paris; Meg Giry (Mary Michael Patterson) and Madame Giry (Karen Mason).
The Scenic and Costume Designer Gabriela Tylesova and Design Supervisor Eddie Pierce earned threefold kudos from me. The visuals were absolutely breathtaking. Look for the carriage that picks up Christine from the dock, the background of the amusement park Phantasma, and the figure that I’ll refer to as the “Skeleton Dinosaur” (you’ll know it when you see it).
The opening 45 minutes were slow but that’s because of new character development and explaining what’s taken place the past 10 years. Being a Phantom snob I expected immediate gratification. I wanted them to open up strongly like where the original left off: “DON JUAN TRIUMPHANT!” But they did the right thing by opening with Mister Y and giving background on the timelapse. Love Never Dies gets a 9.5 out of 10 and I’ll be purchasing the soundtrack this weekend.
Here’s the schedule for the rest of its Atlanta run:
Tuesday – Thursday: 7:30 p.m.
Friday: 8:00 p.m.
Saturday: 2 p.m., 8 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m., 6:30 p.m.
You can purchase your tickets HERE
Review by Jon J.