Universal has released the video of Love Never Dies to mixed reviews. Filmed live in Melbourne, Australia, last September, the creative team includes Andrew Lloyd Webber (book and music), Glenn Slater (book and lyrics), Ben Elton (book), Charles Hart (additional lyrics), Simon Phillips (stage direction) and Brett Sullivan (film direction). The cast includes Ben Lewis (Phantom), Anna O’Byrne (Christine), Sharon Millerchip (Meg), Simon Gleeson (Raoul), Maria Mercedes (Madame), and Jack Lyll (Gustave).
Glen Pearce (Public Reviews): For those who saw the London original it’s almost unrecognizable: a new design, a new opening and ending and a much tighter emotional journey. Lloyd Webber’s score remains as lavish as ever but, at the heart, the tragic love story between the Phantom and Christine is now crystal clear. … The filming is beautiful, setting a new standard in theatrical recordings; high definition capturing every moment in lavish detail, multiple angles offering an intimacy for what is, when the spectacle is stripped away, a tragic love story. … The disappointing bonus feature aside this is a remarkable step forward in recording theatre for posterity. The Australian production may have restored Love Never Dies’ reputation, but the DVD also stands not only as a record of a landmark production but also of the potential for filming theatre productions for commercial release.
Eric Samdahl (Film Jabber): Did you ever wonder what happened to the Phantom of the Opera? Me neither, but that didn’t stop Andrew Lloyd Webber. … The play isn’t worth the trip. … Love Never Dies can’t escape the basic facts: it is a bigger and more extravagant production that lacks the intrigue and conflict of the original. In other words, it’s like so many other sequels. Bigger does not mean better. … On its own, Love Never Dies is an okay musical, but The Phantom of the Opera was never meant to end this way. Fans of Phantom will inevitably see the play, but it’s better to put it off for as long as possible.
Jorge Santos (Musical Chronicles): The idea of doing a sequel to a musical never really worked. … The story begins 10 years after the events of the original. Now, the Phantom lives in Coney Island, but it still misses Christine. When she arrives in New York, with Raoul and their son, following an invitation of Oscar Hammerstein, she soon discovers it was all a plan by the Phantom to reunite with her. Like the original, the design of this show looks amazing and director Simon Phillips takes full advantage of it. The problem is the plot; something doesn’t work. … We don’t care much for the characters and everything is very predictable. There aren’t any strong dramatic scenes and … nothing is very emotional. In fact, everything is kind of tedious and uninteresting. … If you like watching well-designed shows, with great sets, colorful costumes and listen to a few good songs, you can do worse than watching this Love Never Dies.
Kevin van der Ham (Movie Muser): Making a sequel is never easy, as fans of the original will always make comparisons. With this in mind, and giving Loving Never Dies a fair chance, we cannot ignore that this production has serious merit. … The execution of this is definitely sublime. Although it is very apparent that you are watching a recording of a live show, it has been filmed and edited in such a way as to take you right in, as if it was actually a movie filmed in a studio. … Regrettably, it’s the songs and the plot that let this film down. … Love Never Dies is a sterling effort and if it’s viewed on its own it is both enjoyable and a pleasure to watch. … This is a great film and is recommended viewing for musical theatre fans, but it’s missing the magic that the original music brought that we all fell in love with in the first place.