Saturday, January 21, 2012


Capitol Theatre, Sydney.
Reviewed by Bill Stephens

The much-acclaimed Australian production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest extravaganza “Love Never Dies” has finally arrived in Sydney and it’s worth the wait.

No matter that the storyline is silly, or that a scenery mishap so threatened to mar the opening night in Sydney that director, Simon Phillips, felt compelled to apologise to the audience. In the end, this event only added to the excitement of a night which was a triumph for all involved.

                                                        Anna O'Byrne and Ben Lewis

“Love Never Dies” continues the “Phantom of the Opera” story 10 years on. The Phantom (Ben Lewis) has now moved to Coney Island where he runs an establishment called “Phantasma” in which he moonlights as a waiter, and pines to hear Christine Daae sing. Christine Daae (Anna O’Byrne), now a famous opera singer married to her manager, Raul (Simon Gleeson), unwittingly accepts the Phantom’s offer to sing at “Phantasma”.

                                                   Anna O'Byrne as Christine Daae

When Christine and Raul arrive for the engagement with their 10 year-old son, Gustav (Jack Lyall), the Phantom notices that the boy has musical talent, does a few quick calculations and decides that Gustav is his son, leading to the dramatic finale involving the mysterious Madam Giry (Maria Mercedes) and her daughter, Meg (Sharon Millerchip).

                                                     Sharon Millerchip and Girls

I know! It’s all very Mills and Boon, but add Gabriela Tylesova’s remarkable vision of Edwardian Coney Island which looks absolutely ravishing in the rococo splendour of the Capitol Theatre, a lush, beautifully sung, musical score, handsome cast, gorgeous costumes, carnival freaks and fantastic sideshows and it all seems perfectly logical, hugely enjoyable and definitely a “must see” show .

An edited version of this review appears in "City News"  Jan 19 -25 edition .