10 November 2010

Two For The Road : Love Never Died Indeed

A small insert dropped from the programme I bought. It says "At tonight's performance, the role of the Phantom shall be played by Mr. Tam Mutu." Who in the world is Tam Mutu? I said to myself. Isn't it bad enough that sitting in the Dress Circle because I couldn't get a ticket for the Stall? Or maybe, this was a sign that I should see this show again on a different day.

Mr. Tam Mutu was the understudy for the role of the Phantom in Love Never Dies. I was hoping to be able to see this much-awaited musical in its original West-End cast with Canadian Ramin Karimloo in the role. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed even before the very first note was played.

And so it started. The first scene by the boardwalk transformed into Coney Island with a combination of smokes, screens, projected images and live actors. While this was a reminiscence of the first "transformation" scene in The Phantom of the Opera, modern technology made this present day update flawless, smooth and totally amazing. I was impressed.

Singing the Phantom's first big number Till I Hear You Sing, Tam Mutu did not disappoint at all. His voice was strong, powerful and his acting good enough. Within 20 minutes, I already forgot I was watching the performance of the understudy and sitting in the Dress Circle.

Love Never Dies as a musical is patterned after its predecessor The Phantom Of The Opera. It has it's big solo number Till I Hear you Sing / The Music Of The Night; ensemble number Dear Old Friend / Prima Donna and even used some of the motifs and "samplings" of Twisted Every Way and Little Lotte from the first installment.

Christine's big number Love Never Dies was the showstopper. American Sierra Boggess was able to make the hair at the back of my neck stand on its end with her dramatic rendition of the aria.

Love Never Dies musically ended with surprisingly little fanfare. Seeing the Phantom removed his mask and knelt in front of his son with nothing more than orchestral music was so powerful it could not have ended any other way.

One has to trust Andrew Lloyd Webber in making sure Love Never Dies would be another unforgettable piece of work. As the audience exited the theater, the orchestra played some of the major themes of the musical to ensure that you can hum them on your way home.

Mr. B.

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