Phantom of the Opera ends with the words “it’s over now, the music of the night”, and I agree. I’ve been against the sequel since the first time I heard about it. Still, however much I hated the idea I couldn’t help being a bit curious. When I found out the library got the CD I had to borrow it.
This review came out almost four pages long, so bear with me!

Act 1:
1 – Prologue: The very beginning took me right to the seaside with the sound of the waves and seagulls and I thought the little flute tune was beautiful. Not a bad start! This did, however, remind me a bit of the first PoTO’s Prologue: set in the future where people reminisce an old disaster. Too bad, though, that the disaster, a huge fire, isn’t mentioned once after this… Also: “Phantasma?” How very imaginative.
2 – The Coney Island Waltz: Pretty beautiful piece, but nothing spectacular.
3 – “That’s the Place You Ruined, You Fool”: I was about to complain how little sense this piece made (I don’t see how Mme Giry ruined it all, unless it was her who set the place on fire) but then I heard that this one has been removed from the show. Good thing.
4 – Heaven by the Sea: A nice little tune, but the lyrics were a bit boring. Or even cringeworthy at their worst: the part about the mask and what’s behind it really didn’t impress me. Is there any way to introduce the mask theme more bluntly than this, especially when they hardly use that theme again?
5 – Only for Him/Only for You: I like this melody. It fits the character of Meg, even though she doesn’t quite fit the character of Meg from PoTO. She is now the leading vaudeville star of Phantasma. The “singing only for you” thing makes me think that she’s in love with the Phantom, which makes me think of some half-decent fanfics… But what has happened to her traditionally unimpressive little voice and the whole ballet thing? However, I think Meg is one of the characters they treated more fairly, compared to poor Raoul, for example…
6 – The Aerie: A beautiful orchestra piece.
7 – ‘Til I Hear You Sing: When this song first appeared on YouTube I claimed not to like it, but I’ve changed my mind. Now I think this is a very beautiful song. Maybe even the best song of Love Never Dies. It reminded me a lot of Music of the Night, though: placed about in the same place in the show, a slower one and sung by the Phantom in his lair, both times for Christine. Anyway, Ramin Karimloo sings so beautifully, I could listen to this a couple of dozen times more!
8 – Giry Confronts the Phantom/’Til I Hear You Sing (reprise): I still like Meg’s happy theme. The Phantom’s clearly not that impressed… What I don’t like is how the Phantom has changed: he is being social with people, talking to them and being in the same room with them and all that! In the first one anyone who entered his lair to mock him about his love to Christine would now exist only as an extension of his Punjab lasso.
Also, would the hurt and forsaken Phantom really have accepted the Girys’ help? If we stick to the original I guess he would’ve just hid in some secret place and finally died of grief. He was so embarrassed by his appearance that he spent years hiding in the cellar of an opera house. So, how could he suddenly overcome that and move America to start his own freak show – a place where he once was humiliated in himself?
Is that, by the way, the drum beat from PoTO’s title song in the background of the “Ah, Christine” part? Speaking of Christine: before that part there’s the first musical PoTO reference! They use the “Christine, Christine” tune from PoTO. The reprise of ‘Til I Hear You Sing reminded me of The Phantom’s All I Ask of You reprise in the first one.
9 – Christine Disembarks: First glimpse of the new Raoul. A very dislikable one.
10 – Arrival of the Trio – “Are You Ready to Begin”: Like Christine Disembarks: a pretty uninteresting song, even more so since I don’t know what’s happening on stage. Gustave sounds like a girl. Interesting how Christine is now how Carlotta was in Leroux’s book: “pitch perfect but empty inside.
11 – “What a Dreadful Town!...”: Raoul, dear old Raoul, what have they done to you? You were so lovely once! Not every bit as sexy as the Phantom, perhaps, but cute and gentlemanlike nevertheless! But now you’re the stereotypic jerk! There’s nothing to like about you! You gamble away all of your and your wife’s money, you drink the little that’s left when you’ve finished gambling, you seem to hate your son and you complain when your wife plays as much as one note with the piano. Where is the dashing young man who used to worship the ground under the feet of his beautiful bride? Poor, poor dear…
12 – Look With Your Heart:  A quite boring one. The heart is capable to perform most of the tasks related to the five senses, by the way! Like, in Pocahontas you Listen With Your Heart… Christine and Gustave sound great together, I wish they would sing together more. And oh look, in the end there’s a musical reference to PoTO: the music box is playing the Angel of Music theme!
13 – Beneath a Moonless Sky: I really like the melody, it’s among my favourites from this show. What isn’t so nice is that they try their best to make Christine unlikable too. Cheating on her fiancé the day before their wedding? I guess they would’ve said Christine and the Phantom succumbed to each other right after The Music of the Night if the Phantom’s “…has also denied me the joys of the flesh…” line wouldn’t had ruined that.
But now they have to go with this solution, which is a way less logical one. How Christine would’ve found the Phantom in such a big city as Paris for one night? And when it comes to her heartwrenching “I loved you” part… Do I even have to tell you why I think that’s not true? I suppose according to this musical’s logic we’re meant to believe that Christine really loved the Phantom all the time and she would’ve sacrificed her freedom gladly, since it’s a win-win situation: she gets to be with her love and no one dies.
Really, it seems like they’ve based the whole musical on a fanfic, and not even a good one!
14 – Once Upon Another Time: Another love duet between the Phantom and Christine in a row? About the wasted chances of the past? Yawn.
15 – “Mother, Please, I’m Scared”: Why does the Phantom get along so well with this lad, the son of his old rival? I couldn’t help cringing when I heard the Phantom’s Santa-Claus-like laugh.
16 – Dear Old Friend: The Bathing Beauty part in the beginning is just what Mme Giry says it is, “cheap vaudeville trash.” Otherwise the song is very likable, at least in my opinion. Anyways, I’ve got nothing too deep to say about it.
17 – Beautiful: So these three random people are The Phantom’s minions? I disapprove of the thought of The Phantom having minions! He doesn’t seem like the type for having them. That means he would have to be social again!
There are Little Lotte and “where all must pay homage to music” references, lovely. The song itself, Beautiful, isn’t so beautiful in my opinion. It’s actually boring. And when it comes to the Phantom’s unfailing “he plays like me, so I must’ve conceived him” logic… Gustave’s mother and grandfather are musicians, but if he’s musically talented he has to be the Phantom’s son? Um… You say what now?
18 – The Beauty Underneath: Like the title song from PoTO, this is the one that doesn’t fit the rest of the score musically. The song is good, at least in my opinion, but every time Gustave spits out his little YES I wish someone would wring his neck. The lyrics remind me of Music of the Night. Especially the ending doesn’t seem like a father-son song to me. I know he’s talking about taking off his mask but I get the feeling these lyrics would fit a raunchier sort of a love song where he is offering to take off something else… But maybe that’s just me and my twisted mind!
19 – The Phantom Confronts Christine: How is Christine so sure about the father of the kid, remembering how she was with the Phantom the night before her wedding night with Raoul? Gustave can’t be the spitting image of the Phantom since his face looks normal and Raoul hasn’t noticed his different looks. Maybe it’s just a thing that a mother knows when seeing her baby for the first time (try not to think about the main conflict of the musical Mamma Mia)?
Then there’s the second ‘Til I Hear You Sing reprise so far, this time by Christine. The Phantom’s part reminds me of the ending of PoTO’s first act: he is filled with some powerful emotion and lets it all out in song.

Act 2:
1 – Entr’acte: I like this one! This reprises the themes from the first act beautifully, a joy to listen to.
2 – Why Does She Love Me?: The saxophone version of Beneath a Moonless Sky makes me think of smoky, dingy bars – and that seems to be the setting. Is the purpose of this song to make the new Raoul likeable again? Is he being sincere or is this just drunken self pity? Good job introducing him without anything to like in the first act and now supposing we’re suddenly going to like him… The song is not very interesting melody-wise.
3 – Devil Take the Hindmost: Oh Raoul, I know you’re full of booze, but still… There’s nothing much to brag about your “besting” of The Phantom. Who was the one tied to the noose, remember? Well, Raoul and the Phantom make their bet about Christine’s love accompanied by an okay melody but rather bland orchestration. If she sings, she is the Phantom’s, if she doesn’t, she’s Raouls. The plot development didn’t blow me away since they just set up the main conflict from PoTO again.
4 – Heaven by the Sea (reprise): Nothing special here, just an ordinary reprise.
5 – “Ladies, Gents!”/”The Coney Island Waltz (reprise): The melody is nice, but the song tells us nothing new. They’re just advertising Christine’s American debut.
6 – Bathing Beauty: So, this is a vaudeville striptease act onstage, right? “Cheap vaudeville thrash” indeed! Couldn’t they’ve come up with any more interesting theme than some bathing suit dilemma? I can’t believe we’re supposed to believe the Phantom has composed this, the melody is so bland!
7 – “Mother, Did You Watch?”: Meg really hasn’t any situational awareness. This is just a reprise of her theme again, so nothing special here.
8 – Before the Performance: The good old Raoul from PoTO is back, looking so handsome and being so charming again. They’re being cute with Christine, talking about their first meeting. But really, now we’re supposed to love him again? Even though we can assume he has been drinking for the last ten years and even now, when filled with remorse, will probably start again soon?
Gee, wonder who Christine will choose! This drunkard who wastes her money and makes her life miserable or the father of her kid who loves her and owns a huge amusement park and will always be gentle and lovely to her? Hmm?
There’s again a reprise of ‘Til I Hear You Sing, third one so far. In the end there’s finally a large reprise of a PoTO theme: Twisted Every Way! Most of the lyrics have been removed but since the situation itself is a reprise from PoTO the song really fits here – and at least my mind just fills the missing lyrics over the instrumentals. Primadonna’s refrain plays as an instrumental too and then gets cut abruptly to give way to the next song.
9 – Devil Take the Hindmost (quartet): The beginning is very haunting. With Gustave’s backing the whole song sounds better. Everybody is worried about will Christine sing except for Mme Giry (but I couldn’t figure out what she’s exactly so worried about since the lyrics are overlapping a lot).
10 – Love Never Dies: The title song starts with a pretty long prelude, presumably to increase the excitement level. And of course she sings. Unfortunately the song is kind of dull, at least in my opinion. It’s somewhat pretty but nothing special, definitely a letdown if you’ve expected to hear something that blows your mind. And the lyrics… Love this love that love love love. Of course, since the lyrics are supposed to be the Phantom’s message to Christine they make some sense. He’s just that obsessed with her.
11 – “Ah Christine!...”: Uh, Phantom… Now you’ve won the woman of your dreams and that’s all the triumph you can get out, a reprise of some old theme without any overjoyous orchestrations? I expected more of you. Well, at least Raoul is a great sport, he has exited already and has left a goodbye letter to Christine. There’s a Little Lotte reference in the letter. Raoul even mentions how she is with her Angel of Music from now on. I really liked that choice of words, I’m happy they brought that theme up again.
12 – “Gustave! Gustave!...”: Finally the Phantom is threatening to kill someone (Raoul, because he believes he has taken Gustave away)! Unfortunately that state of mind doesn’t last long. The next moment he is being the perfect boy scout, practically arranging a rescue patrol to find Gustave. Oh well, he’s his son, maybe this makes the slightest sense. I’d still prefer if he’d stick to killing and being generally mad/obsessed/upset and Raoul would do the gentleman business, rescuing fair maidens and beautiful kids.
13 – “Please, Miss Giry, I Want to Go Back…”: Now it’s time for the grand finale! Since it just reprises the already heard themes I’m going to concentrate on the plot.
So, as everyone probably knows by now, it starts with Meg trying to drown Gustave – out of jealousy, since the kid is going to inherit everything The Phantom has done, i.e. Phantasma, i.e. the thing Meg and her mother have practically financed and built themselves. Then it’s time for some dramatic confessions: She has gathered the money for Phantasma by sleeping around.
She’s very angry because the Phantom has never noticed her and becomes downright suicidal, pointing a gun into her head, and- What? The Phantom’s talking her out of killing herself and being apologetic and sympathetic! Seriously, every time I think this musical couldn’t be more like a bad fanfic it proves me wrong. So, the Phantom tries to reassure Meg about that she’s beautiful inside.
Unfortunately he mentions the word Christine. And then! Gasp! Meg shoots her!
Christine starts blurting out her last words, telling Gustave to look with his heart to find the truth about his dad. Then Christine and the Phantom have their last love duet, a reprise of Once Upon Another Time. This is like West Side Story. Finally she dies, after one last kiss. There’s some dramatic music for next five minutes. I hear that Gustave accepts the truth about his father and his face during these minutes. And then… It’s over.

Maybe it tells something about the score than even when I thought that it was quite okay after taking the CD out of the player I still found myself washing my ears with some hearty Hairspray tunes five minutes afterwards.
But really, there were some good songs and themes, even though some songs were letdowns and the whole musical is quite reprise-heavy. The thing that bugs me the most is the plot, of course. Oh how I wish Lloyd Webber would’ve used his composing talent to create a show with a good or at least a sensible plot!

So, what do you think of Love Never Dies? Discuss! And if you’ve seen it live or want to share your own views of the CD, write a review!

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