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“Love Never Dies”


BroadwayDave
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Attended the show January 7th at the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts in Pittsburgh. We had both “alternates” in the main roles: Bronson Norris Murphy as The Phantom and Rachel Anne Moore as Christine Daaé. Both had stunning, powerful, and beautiful voices. Unfortunately, at two or three times, the orchestra was so loud it drowned out the songs to the point that the lyrics where all but inaudible. This happened, as I recall, during a long stretch of “The Beauty Underneath” sequence and at the very beginning of the show during a portion of “‘Til I Hear You Sing”.

 

Having listened to the album for several weeks prior to the show straight I could pick up quite a few differences in the dialogue, once for instance after their pier side arrival and they’re met by the carriage (not sent by Mr. Y but by Mr. Hammerstein), and another shortly after having to do with “What a Dreadful Town” (a lot of this sequence’s dialogue is different) when Raoul is more argumentative (in the album) with Christine and Gustave, whereas in the show he was a bit more attentive (actually playing with the kid), and (in the album) when Christine says “Please Raoul”, he replies harshly “Please what?!?”, to which she says “Don’t drink anymore” - none of that happened. He didn’t go for some air (as in the album) he went to meet in the hotel lobby with their supposed host that brought them to America, Mr. Hammerstein.

 

The three most amazing songs/sequences to me where: “‘Til I Hear You Sing” (despite the overeager orchestra); “Look With Your Heart” (such a beautiful song) with “Beneath a Moonless Sky” (breathtaking) and “Once Upon Another Time”; and the title song “Love Never Dies” (my God, her voice was off the chart!). I also enjoyed “The Bar” scene with “Why Does She Love Me”, where Sean Thompson as Raoul sang very well. Casey Lyons, who plays Gustave, is an amazing talent, and has the voice of a little angel. This kid could belt out some beautiful tidbits too.

 

For visuals: “The Lair” (with “The Beauty Underneath) evolved into an impressive revolving nightmarish display; just about anytime the entire Coney Island set was in full blast display and lit up; and the title song “Love Never Dies” with that gorgeous backdrop.

 

As for the show itself.

 

The people sitting next to me (season ticket holders) loved it. The people I talked to at intermission loved it (so far). As I was walking the city block back to the parking garage from the theater I encountered no less than twenty people, and as I passed them up asked them what they thought: and they all loved it. One commented “It wasn’t the ‘Phantom of the Opera’, but it was wonderful”.

 

As for me?

 

It was different. The mindset has to be different going in. There were stretches during the Coney Island sequences where I reminded myself that this was all part of the storyline, where the Phantom now lived and had escaped to from Paris (explained in a song from the album “Giry Confronts The Phantom”, but that conversation now takes place just between Madame Giry and Meg). The show was like watching two different shows blending into one. Some of the Coney Island sequences were wonderful, all lights and crazy music. The “Bathing Beauty” rehearsal in Act 1 and the song in Act 2 were just weird. But I played along, again reminding myself it was all part of the storyline. I guess they had to add that in there to give Meg something to do, make her the ‘star of the show’ and ‘headliner’ until Christine Daaé took over with her aria.

 

The ending? I knew it was coming having listened to the album. And I still teared up badly, my knees shaking so bad I thought the lady next to me was going to have to call 911. She was crying too.

 

I listened to the album again when I wrote this. Even now I can close my eyes and my heart still races, my eyes still tear up, and I smile ear to ear when listening to the music. Did I LOVE every second of the show. No. But, borrowing a phrase someone else used, I truly enjoyed “Love Never Dies”, warts and all.

 

And I’m glad I experienced this.

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Like I said, you’ll know the ending of the show if do. Otherwise, don’t listen to the last two songs. A lot of the story is told through the songs and you’ll be ahead of the game, as some of the people around me seem to be checking their programs often during the show as if they were lost as to what was going on. Here’s the program from the show - you’ll notice it differs slightly from the album in that there are a few songs from the beginning of the album not on there:

 

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Edited by BroadwayDave
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