(Carrie Dunn's article was posted in The Guardian, October 8.)

West End girl: Love Never Dies for Lloyd Webber's Phantom

The composer's masked hero will haunt Theatreland in a hotly anticipated sequel next year – and I've heard the first song

One expects a certain amount of secrecy surrounding the most eagerly anticipated new musical of the century. And so, journalists, industry insiders and obsessive fans (or "phans") weren't disappointed to receive an exclusive scroll, sealed with a wax stamp, inviting them to Her Majesty's theatre, Haymarket, for today's launch of Love Never Dies – the sequel to Phantom of the Opera.

Organised like a military parade, the guests were ushered in, seated in the beautiful auditorium and, right on time, the curtain lifted on a video explaining just how successful the original Phantom has been (short answer: extremely). Lloyd Webber himself took to the stage, telling us that he'd overheard two men wondering about the sequel's title: "What's that Webber gonna call it? Ugly Bastard 2?"

The composer then introduced Ramin Karimloo, currently playing the man in the mask in London (and who's been recording the Phantom's vocals for the Love Never Dies concept album for the past year or so). Karimloo was confirmed as the new production's leading man (as predicted months ago), with Sierra Boggess signed to play opposite him as Christine, the role made famous by Sarah Brightman.

Karimloo gave the audience a sneak preview of the Phantom's first song in the show, a plaintive and relatively appealing ballad about needing to hear Christine sing. Meanwhile, Boggess sat in a golden throne, in a golden gown, looking beautiful and serene but saying and singing nothing.

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Official site for ‘Love Never Dies’: http://www.loveneverdies.com/

‘Love Never Dies’ trailer:


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