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Love Never Dies 19/03/2010 Ramin/Sierra/Joseph

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Love Never Dies 19/03/2010 Ramin/Sierra/Joseph Empty Love Never Dies 19/03/2010 Ramin/Sierra/Joseph

Post  starryeyed Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:28 pm


I wasn't in the best of moods before the show I'll admit. The person I was going with was really late and I was convinced I'd be late and it is a pet hate of mine being late to the theatre. Add to this an absolute nightmare of a tube journey and the fact it was battering down with rain in London on Friday night I was in a foul mood. Also I got off at Piccadilly Circus and walked past Her Majesty's and really wished I was in there that night...

So got to the theatre at 7.10 pm not late at all thankfully and went to get a brochure/ programme. "That will be £10.50" said the man at the kiosk and I nearly collapsed, but bought them anyway. (Cue an almighty debate on my Facebook status which made me wish I'd never complained about the prices!)


Prologue/ Coney Island Waltz - First of all I really don't like the trend of curtain down with a projection of the shows logo which is so popular with a lot of musicals. I don't know why I don't like it, I just don't and Love Never Dies was no exception, the fairy lights also looked a bit dull.

The prologue went on far too long, I honestly think it could be completely taken out and no one would bother and just start the show from The Coney Island Waltz. However, I did like the projections here in the transition from Prologue to The Coney Island Waltz and the transformation of the set was quite impressive. I however didn't like the way they had Madame Giry grabbing out at things and often standing in the middle of the stage turning round and gasping at everything. Yes we get the point she is remembering it all, how it was, this is just a bit of a melodramatic way of showing it. There also wasn't that much really going on, some people walking past her, a few acrobats and then Fleck's big peacock reveal. Which... oh... wasn't impressive at all. I expected it to be a stunning costume on stage but it honestly wasn't it looked very superficial, it would have been nice if it had some sort of texture to it or something along those lines. I'm not a costume buff so can't think of the technical terms.

Heaven by the Sea - I felt this jarred as it begun with the music preceding it. It was a bit of an odd scene, the ensemble really does seem quite small during these scenes, there were only about 3 people peering through the gates to Phantasma singing the song and others sort of skipped on intermittently until there was a "large crowd" which wasn't very large at all. The costumes were nothing special but I do remember a few sailors being there. There has definitely been some lyric changes since the CD but nothing that really stuck out if I'm honest. It ends very abruptly and the crowd all freeze in place as Meg and two dancers come through a curtain and notice the "large crowd."

Only for Him/ Only for You - The line "Jesus what a crowd!" really made me laugh because honestly this stage is very empty at times, just a personal nit pick of mine. It also made me laugh when she asked about her hair because she then sticks a very big headpiece on it anyway! Summer Strallen was very "bitty" for me as Meg. She kept switching her accents and also didn't seem to have very good breath control during her songs, often taking huge gasps at times. However, this probably was her strongest number and she did seem to really be into the role. We also get the first entrance of the freaks here which seems a bit random, and in fact their appearances in the rest of the show seemed pretty random too, the characters genuinely could easily be cut. Dr. Gangle's voice really annoyed me. Also I could not believe at the beginning of the song they called ballet "corny." No this show is corny. The choreography was very impressive however, and all the dancers are very fit.
After this song we actually see Meg go off with Mr Thompson who is apparently from the mayor's office. I thought it was a tad too in your face for Mme. Giry not to have known what was going on as Meg and Mr Thompson link arms and Meg sort of leans into him.

'Till I Hear You Sing - Sierra (as Christine!Bot) walks to the front of the stage here and is actually very convincing she then stands still and The Phantom covers her back up again (it must be here the swap takes place and it becomes a mannequin.) I didn't mind it, but it just reminded me of the original far too much and he did sort of mess around with it a tad too much, I don't care what people say it does sort of insinuate more, that is just my opinion.
I didn't like the whole "Ten long years..." part especially with him holding a gun to his neck and I thought it really clashed with the "My Christine..." part he goes into before "Till I Hear You Sing."
I think this was the first song I actually sort of connected with the piece if I'm honest. Ramin did indeed put a lot of emotion into the song and he does seem to really connect with what he sees The Phantom as. My only gripe is that personally I don't see The Phantom still moping around after Christine, he might still keep track of her but I just found he was very whiney, most of the show if I'm honest. But I can't fault Ramin's vocals here or performance and he did get an extremely loud cheer afterwards.

Giry Confronts The Phantom/ 'Till I Hear You Sing (Reprise) - Summer really started to irritate me at this point. She is so breathy it is highly annoying and cuts a lot of the notes way too short it was actually pretty painful to listen to if I'm honest. I did actually sort of like how she was chasing The Phantom around the piano and he couldn't really care. I also found it ironic that on the line "I could show a bit more skin..." she lifted up her dress to expose just an ankle. It really made me think, yes showing an ankle would be indecent but you've just been parading around almost baring all. So there is lots of whining and Mme. Giry breaks Christine!Bots arm "oh no!"
The reprise was okay, one thing we don't get a sense of in the CD of course is at this point at the end of it the three freaks come in and The Phantom holds up a letter at the end and hands it to Fleck.

Arrival of the Trio/Are You Ready to Begin? - LOTS of people waiting on Christine which of course means three ensemble members acting as photographers and another four or so general "stage fillers." Okay I have to mention it, Christine's entrance costume is really VERY similar to Carlotta's Notes II costume from the original except she has this really garish purple fur stole. Sierra says nothing and looks pretty vacant during this whole scene actually, it could have been handled better as to me she just looked... well as if she were a tad stupid. I am pretty sure Joseph pulled out a hip flask at some point during this scene, anyway he just looked annoyed the whole time, I was getting annoyed too. I think I had Tyler Fagan as Gustave and he was okay, none of them really do much in this scene.
Now for the "oh so impressive" carriage. It really did look plastic. Also there was a lot of "oh REALLY?" lines here such as:
As it creaked down to centre stage: "It's a CARRIAGE!"... "There's NO ONE inside!"
As a really obvious lighting effect was used: "There's SOMEONE inside!"
The only sane person in the scene: "Wait a second, you were ADAMANT there was NO ONE inside two minutes ago."
All those lines were actually said (okay not that last one ) But honestly it was very in your face, we aren't stupid, we can see for ourselves no one is in it and then oh my god there IS.

What A Dreadful Town - Hotel scene here that was very plastic looking. Piano, balcony doors and a lounging seat. I liked Joseph in this scene actually, he was suitably annoyed and really was spitting the words out. Liked it. I also personally had to chuckle when he kicked the music box and Tyler's face just fell. Oh yes Raoul is now kicking toys.

Look With Your Heart - Okay I'll admit it. I was actually sitting thinking "awwww" this whole scene. It started off with Sierra cradling Tyler as she sang her lines and then they were sitting facing each other I'm sure. This was one of the scenes I actually really enjoyed Sierra's acting she seemed very genuine in it and her and Tyler had great chemistry and their voices actually blended very well. Now the cutest part (sorry for the cuteness overload) the instrumental at the end they actually waltz around the hotel room together and before Christine sends Gustave to bed with a nanny he bows to her and she curtseys, it is unbelievably cute.

Beneath a Moonless Sky - I thought this song would annoy me but not for the reason it did. I am sorry to Sierra fans but from this point onwards her acting went CRAZY! First there was the ominous fog filled opening balcony doors OH MY GOD. And Sierra turned round and her jaw literally dropped she placed her hands to her mouth and her eyes went really OTT wide. It was far too much and one of my friends who saw the show another night agreed with me.
Now the song was okay, I actually really like the melody but the lyrics and subject matter just do not sit right with me and there was a lot of literal acting going on which I hate. As in on "I touched you" they would just about touch each other etc. There was a lot of very MOTN blocking going on during this song as well (it re-appeared later as well I think in Before the Performance.) Actually Sierra looked shocked throughout most of the song, I did like that on both their faces you could see the expressions of them remembering the night but yes... enough on that.

Once Upon Another Time - I didn't like it. Can't remember much of it.

"Mother Please I'm Scared" - Has been changed a lot since the CD. There are a couple of "Little Vicomte" references in here which really annoyed me. It was really spiteful the way Ramin said it and I felt like "he is just a kid, it isn't him you hate." Then The Phantom walks out the balcony doors... where does he go? Sierra does a funny look up into the sky as though he flew away...

Dear Old Friend - HOORAY the ONLY song I have NO complaints about in the whole first act. This was brilliant. I'm still singing it and I really like it. You really don't get a true sense of it on the soundtrack. If I were to make a small complaint I hate the ensemble girls shrillness... I really enjoyed everyones acting in this however, especially Summer and Sierra. Summer kept really looking into Sierra's eyes at the start double and triple checking it was her and there were lots of good awkward pauses between the two. I especially loved all the pauses at "You look... sublime" ... "You look... the same *shrug*" you really got the sense it was an awkward meeting. It was as if they were really struggling to say the right thing.
Joseph and Liz were really funny both eyeing each other with suspicion.
As they all joined in the singing it was really up-beat and a funny number as the Giry's stood to one side and the De Chagny's to the other and they would have their backs to each other and on the "dear old friend" lines they'd turn round as if checking the other was still smiling "oh yes everything is fine and dandy here." Very hard to describe but I liked it. They all really sarcastically wave each other off. At some point towards the end we see the freaks distract Gustave and take him away. I liked Meg's strop as she stormed away from the second rehearsal and the look on the other dancers faces of "what do we do now?"

Beautiful - Really annoying use of projection just to show a winding stair case. Completely pointless. This is preceded by a very Phantom-y voiceover "Bring the child up here to me, it is time that I repay him his debt, if it's dark he wants to see, then dark he shall get." It is to the same tune as the voiceovers in the original basically. There are more "Little Vicomte" references, they really irritate me and then as Gustave plays the piano The Phantom asks really sarcastically "Does the dear Vicomte play?" or something like that. Okay in this scene I'll admit I was distracted by the half covered steel gorilla thing as I knew very soon it was going to be unveiled and I was really dreading the whole WTF moment. At the end of this The Phantom and Gustave uncover everything in the Phantom's "lair" and then it lights up AND

The Beauty Underneath - Now you may think you have a pretty good idea of what this would be like from all you've read on various sites but believe me nothing can prepare you for this um visual "masterpiece." A man two rows infront of me corpsed about two seconds in and set off a few people around us laughing. The steel gorilla starts up first I've seen it described as "playing an organ" it doesn't play it "thumps" an organ. It's hillarious. This song just screams "we had to get a rock song in for Ramin" if I'm honest. But back to the staging. There is lots of jumping around the place (seriously) and at one point The Phantom picks Gustave up on top of the piano, honestly would someone actually do that? I don't know. But during the "ahhhhhs... uhhhhhsss" this weird gold chandelier sings in time that Gustave tries to touch and every now and then a half skeleton half human table walks around. There is also a guy who I think was supposed to be an automaton but wasn't very good at acting it. Honestly I just sat there thinking "am I on a trip?" it was really something to be seen. Of course at the end The Phantom unmasks himself and Gustave runs into Sierra arms.

The Phantom Confronts Christine - More OTT acting here and VERY bad diction from Liz Robertson towards the end. Ramin throws some music around the place before going down the stairs (who knows where, everyone goes down the stairs to exit these scenes when they are no longer needed.) Giry sings her bit clutching Gustave's jacket and then throws it DOWN THE STAIRS oh my, such a climax! She then goes down the stairs and the curtain falls. Randomly, and so randomly and late that I don't think anyone would notice if they weren't watching Summer then randomly appears and runs down the stairs. That bit was odd.

Verdict on act one: Pretty awful, I didn't like it very much, the costumes were bland except Raoul looked very Great Gatsby which I liked. I liked "Dear Old Friend" though. I was considering leaving but forced myself to stay. Glad I did, it gets better.


Entr'acte: Okay this is when I realised something, it is most definitely the books and lyrics that are the major downfall of this show. I enjoyed the entr'acte and it showed how beautiful (ugh sorry) the score is when you strip away the lyrics. Shame.

Why Does She Love Me? : Joseph Millson is wasted in the role of Raoul. He really has nothing to work with and I think it is telling of his acting ability that he actually made me really feel for him during this song. Of course this is a recycled tune mostly *shock horror* and the lyrics are a bit iffy but I did enjoy it. He really managed to convey a very reflective Raoul and captured the spirit of the original Raoul tinged with regrets. It was quite heartbreaking really. Also is it just me or is this outfit very reminiscent of The Great Gatsby? I know some people have made reference to Sunset Boulevard but I haven't seen that so I can't comment on that. I had my eye on the barman - who I thought woah he looks like Ramin turns out he is understudy Phantom so I suppose visually there seems to be a lot of similarities- as I wanted to notice how they did the switch these days (previously it was always The Phantom when the morning shift came on.)

Meg comes in and does her annoying little song about coffee and swimming and whatever. God she irritated me the whole show I've just realised. Don't know whether Summer herself irritated me or the character irritated me, who knows. I still had my eye on the barman and noticed he goes under the bar gives her the coffee and then goes back under the bar and because of a mirror behind him I saw him slip down a trap door as Ramin came up. When the switch is made Ramin stands with his back to the audience cleaning the glass.

Devil Takes the Hindmost - Okay the way Ramin turns round made the audience laugh and I don't think it was meant to. It was like "Dun" *turns around* I think the timing of it makes it a little comical. I liked the song but didn't like the staging of it really, I don't know why, it was just a bit odd having them just walk around the bar. Really weird. Anyway for the record there is a publicity photo and a photo in the brochure that makes it look like Raoul recoils from The Phantom and a few people picked up on that saying it didn't seem right, he doesn't actually recoil from him in the show, The Phantom has him by the neck at one point. Works better I guess, doesn't make it look like Raoul is just a wuss. I actually liked this song, but people seem to, I think perhaps the lyrics are slightly better here.

Heaven by the Sea (Reprise) - Okay I think we've got the point I hate the ensemble songs. This song was changed a lot from the CD, a lot of lyric changes but I can only really remember one of the lines about having to go back to "the office... the sweat shop... the something else I've forgotten." Also the boy playing the "other child characters" (that's what it is called) looked very like Tyler Fagan who was on as Gustave so it looked like Gustave had just randomly decided to join this big group of highly annoying people singing a highly annoying song. Might have confused people who didn't really know it wasn't supposed to be him. But then again Gustave does so much wandering around the place people probably wouldn't have thought anything of it!

Ladies... Gents/ Coney Island Waltz (reprise) - So it was the return of stating the obvious "It's a hot air balloon!" Really? We didn't get that AT ALL until you shoved it in our faces. Okay there wasn't much in this scene, they drop some flyers about Christine performing that night and everyone eats it up of course.

Bathing Beauty - The point I'd been dreading. Oh dear god it was so much more annoying and worse than I could have imagined. The hot air balloon the freaks have landed in comes down and the girls all then enter from there, confusing but I don't think it was meant to be a hot air balloon anymore who knows. They drop loads of cases out onto the stage and sing the song, it's really annoying. Meg does a quick change routine and finally ends up in a pair of frilly knickers with two small umbrellas covering her ummm you know. She then drops them with her back to the audience and carries on dancing. It was so unnecessary and people around me seemed a bit uncomfortable. It really doesn't fit in but enough on that.

Mother Did You Watch? - Summer Strallen's breath control arggggh "Mother did you watch?" *intake of air* "Everything is sold..." *intake of air* But I actually didn't mind her or Liz Robertson's acting in this scene, she did seem pretty broken by the end of it and Mme. Giry of course just seemed hacked off as she does the whole show.

Before the Performance - I actually had a little tear at one point during this because of poor Joseph Poor Raoul I really liked this scene because it really reminded me of the original it was all quite cutesy (maybe too cutesy for some) but I liked it. He really was doing all that he could to win her over and it was quite heartbreaking. Joseph's acting was exceptional in this scene and he kept looking around the place as if keeping an eye out for The Phantom. Once he leaves The Phantom once mores enters through a smoke filled door... oh my god! But the way the mirror is he couldn't really come through that (that would actually be hillarious I've decided.) And there was lots of over-acting here lots of *gasps* and *ahhhs* as he placed that absolutely disgusting necklace on her neck. Oh and how could I forget the piece at the end with TEW I liked it but it just made me want to be at the original again if I'm honest. Also Ramin and Joseph's voices sound very similar on their voice over, I think they should do something to distinguish them as I've seen many people say The Phantom sings the "Christine, Christine don't think that I don't care..." line but it is in fact Raoul and The Phantom sings "But every hope and every prayer rests on you now."

Devil Take the Hindmost (quartet) - I liked this and found it cute Gustave did his bit at the top of a ladder backstage. Don't know why I liked it but I did. The staging was a bit weird with The Phantom, Raoul and Mme. Giry all sort of just skulking around the back of the stage where Christine was standing waiting to perform. But I liked this song. Dear Old Friend and Devil Takes the Hindmost and the DTTH (reprise) were definitely my favourites of the night.

Love Never Dies - I didn't like the bit at the beginning with The Phantom and Raoul in turn reaching out to Christine and her motioning them to both back off. And also a lot of the time you didn't really get what was going on with them both as they were hidden most of the song apart from during the revolve parts.

I'll admit it. I cried. Okay, sorry, but I'd had some problems that week and I don't know it got me, but I didn't cry on the level I can sometimes cry at say "Wishing..." but whatever despite some odd acting Sierra really did a fantastic vocal performance if a little shrill at points. I found it funny they used the "real audience" as the fake audience having her bow to us and not a "fake audience" like in the original... one bit they didn't yank then.

I have to say it though I hated that at the very end Raoul just walked off. And that was it. Bye Raoul nice knowing ya!

Christine's dress was very...sparkly. When the light caught certain bits it really sparkled across the audience. I felt it was perhaps a tad too sparkly, although it was nice the way she just sort of lit up.

"Ah Christine...!" I cried here again. Not at the song. I didn't like it but at the "Little Lotte" part sung by Raoul, I think I really am a sucker for Joseph Millson. But it also just reminded me of the original and how sweet Christine and Raoul were and how they were supposed to be together... sigh. I liked that Joseph came back on stage in shadow to sing those lines but I think the vocals may have still been pre- recorded.

"Gustave! Gustave!" - Once again the "big huge crowd" was tiny, but it was alright I guess. The beginning made me laugh though "Gustave.." "What?" "Gustave..." "What is it?" "GUSTAVE!"

"Please Miss Giry I want to go back..." - So we find Meg on the pier who apparently "isn't done yet" whatever she was meant to be doing who knows. There was something faster paced about the beginning than on the CD but the ending still dragged in my opinion. Meg sings most of her lines with the gun to her head as The Phantom shields Mme Giry and Christine who is in turning shielding Gustave. Then the fateful moment The Phantom creeps forward slowly gets her to lower the gun it's all going well but I have my eye on Christine who has just let go of Gustave and stood away for him (not obvious at all what will happen) and then *facepalm* "We can't all be like Christine."... "Christine. Christine. Always Christine." *gunshot*

This is when it got weird everyone was panicking and Gustave does his line and Christine is STILL STANDING with no sign of blood or anything. Then oh dear she looks down and then the blood starts and The Phantom starts supporting her. It really takes a while (and a good few verses of song) before she slowly, slowly ends up on the ground and then The Phantom and Christine kiss and she dies and he still kisses her. I noticed a lot of people were crying, I felt a bit sad but I mean someone has just died. I think it would be effective if they just ended and curtain down with him still kissing her. But no then we have to sit through about 4 minutes of instrumental of Meg cradling Christine and The Phantom removing his mask and Gustave touching his deformity.

Act Two verdict: Overall I enjoyed Act Two a lot more than Act One even if it doesn't seem it. Things seemed to get going in Act Two so to speak and I preferred the songs overall.

Overall verdict: It is actually a lovely score but unfortunately the dire-ness of Act One really means I can't say I enjoyed this show or even that I could call it good. I would give it 2.5 stars out of 5. The lyrics need a lot of work as does the book. Performances on the whole were good apart from Sierra often over-acted and Summer Strallen and Liz Robertson certainly didn't impress me. I would like to see Lindsey Wise in the role of Meg in the sequel, her bratty Meg would really fit.

For those wondering I had carefully planned that I would see Phantom the next evening so that I could erase LND from my mind if needs be. My experience at the original (and far superior) was in no way affected by me having seen LND.


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Love Never Dies 19/03/2010 Ramin/Sierra/Joseph Empty Re: Love Never Dies 19/03/2010 Ramin/Sierra/Joseph

Post  operafantomet Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:26 pm

Wonderful to read this review in full. And thank you for taking the time to write it.

It makes me kinda sad that there are some potential which is largely ruined by cheap gags and a storyline from hell. I know there are different opinions on this, but I know many who's opposed to the sequel is so because the basic material is so poor. It's not automatically the idea of a sequel people dislike (some do, I know), but the fact that when a sequel was to be made anyhow, they seem to have been so careless in shaping the story and the plot.

It also makes me pity the cast/leads, as they seem to work their ass off for nothing.

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Love Never Dies 19/03/2010 Ramin/Sierra/Joseph Empty Re: Love Never Dies 19/03/2010 Ramin/Sierra/Joseph

Post  starryeyed Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:28 pm

Not a problem Anea.

I'll admit I think what made me so sad was actually seeing the show I realised all the potential there was. I wasn;t opposed to the idea of a sequel I was opposed to what the storyline was as you say.

Anyway if anyone reads this and wants me to expand on anything I will.


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Love Never Dies 19/03/2010 Ramin/Sierra/Joseph Empty Gustave

Post  illegally blonde Sun Jul 11, 2010 3:32 pm

Just wanted to say that the boy who played Gustave at this performance was not Tyler Fagan, he did play the beach boy though!

illegally blonde

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Love Never Dies 19/03/2010 Ramin/Sierra/Joseph Empty Re: Love Never Dies 19/03/2010 Ramin/Sierra/Joseph

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