Filming an ITV special last Sunday celebrating his 40 year career, Andrew Lloyd Webber revealed that he has plans to ressurrect his ill-fated musical Love Never Dies "later this year or early next". The long-awaited sequel to his mega-smash Phantom Of The Opera opened at the Adelphi Theatre in March 2010 and lasted just under 18 months. It had starred West End heartthrob Ramin Karimloo as The Phantom and Sierra Boggess as Christine but a lukewarm response from critics and public alike brought the show to an earlier closure than had been hoped.
The show's US debut was postponed indefinitely and instead the production was extensively re-tooled for its premiere in Australia in May 2011. Lloyd Webber confirmed during the tv taping that the returning version would bear a greater resemblance to the antipodean incarnation which had been received more favourably. He even joked that the Australian production was more of a success because he had had "little involvement" with it.
It is not unusual for shows to be reworked during their runs after an initial response from critics and audiences. The Spice Girls musical Viva Forever opened at the Piccadilly Theatre in November 2012 with great fanfare but soon fell foul of the critics. Plans for the American version are still afoot, but with changes planned, and although the London run has recently been extended it seems likely that more changes are likely in order to sustain public interest. Even producer Judy Craymer was quick to admit after the show began its previews that it may have been a mistake to move the girls' signature song Wanabee to the end of the show, and it was swiftly reinstated back to the opening section.
Martin Guerre had a number of different incarnations during its tenure at the Prince Edward Theatre from 1996-1998. Misgivings about the show in its preview period led to some basic changes rearranging some material, tightening the narrative and removing a pretty but non-essential song. When the show opened however reviews were savage, leading producer Cameron MacIntosh to make much more dramatic changes to the show - whilst the cast were still performing it - with the ensuing version being an almost total rewrite. The show was then taken off the stage entirely for four days for even more dramatic changes. When the show opened again it was met with a much more favourable response and even went on to win the 1997 Olivier Award for Best Musical.
Love Never Dies always had great promise because of the proven hit it was borne from. Phantom Of The Opera's enduring popularity may well have had those involved with Love Never Dies thinking that they were onto a sure thing, but the fickle world of theatre demands that a show with high expectations behind it comes out of the gates running. We look forward to this show brimming with potential making a triumphant West End return. Let's just hope they get it right this time.
Andrew Lloyd Webber's interview will be shown on ITV on Easter Sunday
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