Friday, 25 January 2013

Love Never Dies - Australian version

I bought the DVD recording of the Australian version of Love Never Dies ages ago, but I never got around to watching it - until yesterday. The original London version never was a big success, but they released a soundtrack album from the show, which I've looped some songs from since I got my hands on it (hey, I had to - Ramin is the Phantom). I loved the album version of 'Til I Hear You Sing, Beneath a Moonless Sky, The Beauty Underneath and Devil Take the Hindmost.

Reason why the Australian version was recorded and not the original? Apparantly the Australian version was more the way Andrew Lloyd Webber had intended it to be. But really I can't understand why this musical got such poor reviews, accusing it of having to memorable songs... I think the problem is that it's a sequel, and not just any sequel, but the sequel to Phantom of the Opera (which in 2013 is going on its 27th consequtive year in West End), and thus people expected another fantastic timeless masterpiece like that. Unreasonable expectations ruined it, pretty much. But let's get on with it.

The scenography. I liked the dark setting and despite having exchanged most (if not all) the candles for electricity the general atmosphere was still darkness and night. I liked the three freaks Gangle, Fleck and Squelch. How can a person be as tiny as Fleck?

The Phantom. We all know I have a huge fangirl crush on Ramin's voice (not as much him as his voice) and the Phantom himself is one of my favourite fictitious characters of all time. So I'm quite picky. But Ben Lewis was great. His voice was dark, which is a great plus for someone playing Phantom in my book, not quite as powerful as Ramin's but still suitable for the role. I liked his take on the Phantom as someone less psychotic and hurt and someone stronger and more confident. Simply, the Phantom seemed to have grown up a bit. Ben Lewis' version of 'Til I Hear You Sing is not as powerful as Ramin's and you need to see the film to actually sense the feelings, while in Ramin's version all the feelings of anger, sadness and frustration are easily heard.

Christine. I liked Sierra in the 25th Anniversary, but not so much on the soundtrack to Love Never Dies. Her voice felt a bit flat on the soundtrack. Anna O'Byrne, however, made a stunning Christine. The most beautiful one I have ever seen and her version of the title song gave me goosebumps. It's one of the best songs in the Australian version. The title song is very operatic, but I still love it - which is a great compliment from me since real classic opera has a tendency to give me headaches and the more operatic the worse. But this song is just stunning.

Raoul. I like that Raoul has a bigger role and more of a character in Love Never Dies. Still I've always hated Raoul. In Phantom of the Opera he was a spoiled, stupid, arse, and in Love Never Dies he's an angry drunken gambler with sky-high debts, and a neglecting father and husband. Raoul, however, did get a solo in this musical: Why Does She Love Me?. Still I prefer his duet with the Phantom:

The score. The only thing I don't like about the music are the vaudeville parts (Bathing Beauty for example). Other than that the entire score is beautiful. Dark, mellow, symphonic, beautiful. I like how, just as in the Phantom of the Opera, the melodies are always present. For example, the melody from Devil Takes the Hindmost shows up several times, as well as the melody from Beautiful and Once Upon Another Time, and the one from the title song. Beneath a Moonless Sky is beautiful in the Australian version too. But my absolute favourite song of this musical, London and Sydney alike, is The Beauty Underneath:

I can't understand why this musical got such bad reviews. I can't understand what people can dislike about it. It's beautiful and mysterious and heartwarming and heartbreaking, all at the same time. 

Other Phan-girling escapades:

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