Twenty-one years ago, "The Phantom of the Opera" opened on Broadway to mixed reviews, but still went on to win seven Tony Awards, including best musical. And in the ultimate slap in the face to critics, the tuner became the longest-running show in the history of the rialto in January 2006 and is still packing them in. The show it edged out for this honor? "Cats," which was also penned by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The titled tunesmith is finally ready to premiere the long-promised sequel to the world's most lucrative musical. Entitled "Love Never Dies," the new show tells the tale of the Phantom a decade on, with the action shifted from glamorous Paris to garish Coney Island. The book and lyrics are by Glenn Slater who worked on new material for the stage version of "The Little Mermaid."
"Love Never Dies" was to have premiered simultaneously on Broadway and in the West End sometime this year. Instead, the London production will open next March while the New York run begins next November. Iranian-born Ramin Karimloo -- who is currently playing the title role in the original West End show -- will star as the Phantom while American Sierra Boggess -- who debuted as Christine in the Las Vegas version of "Phantom" in 2006 -- returns to that role for the London run.
As the New York cast has not been announced, it is possible that both of these performers could originate their roles on both sides of the Atlantic. Michael Crawford, the original Phantom, won the Olivier in 1986 and then the Tony in 1988 as best actor in a musical. However, the original Christine -- Sarah Brightman who was then Mrs. Lloyd Webber -- was snubbed by both theater kudos.
Photo credit: Really Useful Group