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Andrew Lloyd Webber Unmasks 'Phantom' Sequel
Andrew Lloyd Webber has made his mark on Broadway with some of the world's most successful musicals (Phantom of the Opera, Evita, CATS).
After a record-breaking 25 years on Broadway, the Tony Award-winning composer has breathed new life into Phantom of the Opera with the sequel Love Never Dies, which follows the Phantom and Christine to turn-of-the-century New York, where the pair have come to Coney Island.
"It's high romance. I have to say, I even find the end of it difficult to watch. It's quite an emotional piece," Webber told Parade.com.
The Australian production of Love Never Dies has been filmed for the big screen and hits movie theaters nationwide Feb. 28 and March 5. The DVD will be released May 29.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, 63, talked to Parade.com about bringing the long-awaited Phantom sequel to Broadway, his journey into reality TV, and more.
Were you hesitant about bringing back characters that you are so close to, and that the audience is so close to as well?
"Not really. I wanted to write it because it closes a chapter emotionally for me. I wanted to revisit these characters once more. I always felt that the moment they met again would be a wonderful opportunity."
Are there plans for Love Never Dies to come to Broadway despite receiving mixed reviews from critics?
"I'd love it to. I'm sure it will at some point. It's a very good production. For a musical to be a success, every element has got to come together and everything has to knit. There have been many musicals over the years, Chicago for example, that didn't work first time around, but subsequently became a huge success."
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How do you explain the lasting appeal of Phantom of the Opera?
"I don't know. There are many theories. I always quote the famous line from South Pacific: 'Fools give you reasons, wise men never try.' We could sit and talk about it for hours and hours and still not really get to the bottom of it, but there's something about the love story between Christine and the Phantom that does resonate. I think it resonates even more in Love Never Dies."
How do you know when you've written a good song?
"You just sort of know. It's hard to say. I don't write words, so the lyrics are obviously very important, but you tend to know what is working and what isn't. But everything is changing so much now. The record industry as one remembers it, doesn't really exist."
You've written a few hit pop songs in your career. Are there any voices you'd like to write for today?
"There are a load of people I'd like to write for today. There are some really good singers. I may actually do that because I haven't really found a musical that I want to write at the moment. Quite a few people do actually want me to have a go at writing for them. So I might. I think the best new voice around at the moment is Jessie J, but she writes her own stuff!"
What do you think about the resurgence of musicals in pop culture?
"I think something has happened. There's no question that the interest among young people in musicals is as big now as it's ever been and it is a consequence of things like Glee. In Britain, I've done five TV casting shows now. We've created quite a pool of young performers who all went on to find good jobs and starring roles. That's certainly turned a lot of kids onto theater. And it's not just musicals. I think the fact that War Horse has been such a huge success has also brought a lot of young people into theater."
If you had to choose, what's your favorite production?
"They're all like favorite children in a way, so I can't really say. I do think that the score of Love Never Dies is as strong as anything I've ever done. But I don't want to say that I think it's better than Evita!"
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Ricky Martin is headlining a revival of Evita later this season. How does he measure up?
"I've worked with him very briefly a couple days ago and he's certainly going to be very good. It's quite funny for me to go back and hear a show I wrote so long ago. Because it's him, I think the score will probably get played a bit rockier than it has been."
You've found success in the reality television world — finding stars for West End productions of The Sound of Music, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oliver! and The Wizard of Oz. How do you like being a reality TV star?
"Back in Britain, people know me in a very different way than they used to because of television. I wouldn't mind seeing if we could do one of the TV shows like we do back in Britain here in America. It would be quite interesting. Unfortunately, they copied the idea and ruined it by doing Grease: You're the One that I Want [a 2007 NBC reality television series designed to cast the lead roles]. What a terrible series that was! It's not really like Idol or X Factor or anything like that, it's much more about working with the performers and trying to get the best out of them."
What goes through your mind when you watch one of your productions?
"Sometimes it's: 'Can I get out of this theater as soon as possible?' But when it works it's wonderful. It's about all of the ingredients coming together."
What's up next for you?
"I don't have anything at the moment that I really want to work on, but that doesn't mean that I won't find something tomorrow morning. I never intended to do the Phantom of the Opera when I found the book. It was the last idea in my mind because I just thought it didn't interest me. It's this sort of strange horror story that leaves you rather confused. There had been various productions of it that had been quite jokey and a bit camp. It never struck me that sitting in there was a great love story. So you can never absolutely tell. I just happened to find a copy of the book at a Fifth Avenue store on a Sunday and I thought I'd buy it and have a look. I ended up finding something completely different than what I had thought."
Watch the trailer for Love Never Dies below:
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