Lovefilm obviously thought it was onto something when it caught me watching the 25th Anniversary of ALW’s Phantom because it immediately presented me with the option to watch ‘Love Never Dies’ the ALW’s Phantom SEQUEL.
So, of course, I did.
Dear God, was that a mistake. It’s awful, and not even in a fun way.
Its only redeeming feature was that Christine got way hot in the intervening years.
Anyway, the plot (such as it is) essentially rises from the following slightly implausible foundations:
1.Christine not only loves, but also fancies, the Phantom.
2. the Phantom was basically a cool dude apart from the being hideous.
3. Raoul was an abusive twat all along.
So, yes, basically Christine and Erik bonked one night in Paris, whereupon he buggered off because of undefined manpain, leaving Christine pregnant and engaged to Raoul. Years pass. The Phantom has spent the time establishing what appears to be a freakshow on Coney Island, with the help of the Girys, while still failing notice that Meg is where it’s at, for fuck’s sake. And given the Phantom spent his childhood being tortured in a travelling circus, you’d think that’d be a Victorian/Edwardian tradition he’d be less than happy to pay forward but anyway. Christine has spent the time being an opera singer and having an adorable child. Raoul has spent it drinking and being a twat.
Christine and Raoul and Adorable!Child (yuck) arrive in America for no clear reason, and Christine and the Phantom are soon dueting like the good old days.
(Dueting in a musical is basically sex).
There’s some vague attempt a plot but it’s basically incoherent and nonsensical. I mean, even by musical standards. The Phantom wants Christine to sing his music again because manpain. Raoul doesn’t want Christine to sign the Phantom’s music because he’s a twat. Adorable!Child is probably not Raoul’s. The Phantom attempts to bond with child by showing him his hideous face, which doesn’t go too well. The Girys and Raoul play pass the villain. Adorable!Child is kidnapped. Christine is shot. Love, apparently, never dies. (Though Christine does).
It’s all very histrionic and pseudo-operatic. In some ways, it almost works because it’s naff in quite similar ways to the original. For example The Beauty Underneath, with its incongruous rock sound, sort of parallels Music of the Night – in that, in both cases, the Phantom is trying to get someone to see the wonder of his world (and fails hard, because he’s a minger). It’s just a bit weird for him to be singing it to a 10 year old, since Music of the Night is explicitly a seduction.
Also the song might be better titled “Hey, kid, do you think you might be a sociopath like me?”
When you stare behind the night
Can you glimpse its primal might?
Might you hunger to possess
Hunger that you can’t repress?
Speaking of songs, the main Christine/Phantom duet is called Beneath a Moonless Sky and it’s all about how they Got It On in Paris, when it was dark enough that Christine didn’t have to actually look at him.
Once there was a night
beneath a moonless sky,
too dark to see a thing
too dark to even try.
I stole to your side,
to tell you I must go.
I couldn’t see your face,
but sensed you even so.
And blind in the dark,
as soul gazed into soul;
I looked into your heart
and saw you pure and whole.
I mean this song is basically “And I doubled bagged you.”
Love Never Dies (which I believe was known as Paint Never Dries during sh epic failure at the West End) is bad, even by ALW standards, and I hope he feels bad about it. The thing is, though, I think it might have been salvageable, or at least not entirely made of tedium and stupid, if the lyrics hadn’t been so breath-taking banal. I know ALW sort of famously doesn’t give a toss about lyrics – and should probably just have the singers go “la la la la” in tune to his music – but it’s chronic in Love Never Dies. Characters are constantly expositing at each other in painfully banal rhyming couplets like:
Oh Christine, my Christine in that time that the world thought me dead.
My Christine, on that night just before you were wed.
Oh Christine, you came and found where I hid,
don’t you deny that you did…
Ouch. Just ouch.
Although I think the highlight, by which I mean nadir, of the whole business has to be song at the beginning about Coney Island, in which they consistently called it Coney Isle because the music won’t allow for another syllable.
It reminds me of the Billie Mack radio interview in Love Actually.
And particularly enjoy the incredible crassness of the moment when we try to squeeze an extra syllable into the fourth line…