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This site not work anymore .I have a new site and you can go there visit me. I dont go put more post here anymore ... If you like this blog go there .. I will be there for you ... Olá meus queridos amigos ... agora tenho um novo blog Este site nao funcionará mais , tive alguns problemas. Agora tenho um novo endereco de blog. Nao irei mais colocar post neste blog .. Todas as atualizacoes e novidades estarao no outro endereco .. Acessem... estarei lá pra vcssss Se vcs gostaram desse blog irao amar o outro .. mais atualizado e lindo ... Vamos láaaa .... visitem-me lá .. Beijinhos Lili

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quarta-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2010

Love Never Dies: Laying the ghost of the Phantom

Jack O’Brien is the director of Love Never Dies, the follow-up to Phantom, the most successful show in history.

Published: 5:05PM GMT 23 Feb 2010
Sierra Boggess, star of Love Never Dies

'You have no idea how much pressure I’m under between now and opening night!” Jack
O’Brien tells me, with such a degree of drawling self-composure that you’d swear you could dangle him out of an upper-storey window and he’d barely bat an eyelid.

Actually, albeit that we’re sitting in a dressing-room backstage at the Adelphi theatre, an oasis of hushed tranquillity, I think I can take a reasonably shrewd guess at the frenetic scenario that awaits this seasoned American theatre and opera director the minute we shake hands and part ways.

O’Brien, 70, is tasked with bringing Love Never Dies to the London stage – after which it will open in New York and Melbourne, and, all being well, at various times after that, around the rest of the world, in the steps of the show that spawned it, The Phantom of the Opera.

This isn’t just the follow-up to the most successful musical yet penned by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It’s the follow-up to the most successful entertainment product in history. If you’re aware of nothing else about Phantom, you know it’s a huge hit, but the stats are awesome: it has enjoyed bigger takings than Star Wars, Titanic, and (so far) Avatar, with earnings of £2 billion; and it has been seen by over 100 million people in more than 25 countries.

Simply put, Love Never Dies is the sequel without equal. If anything, the pressure on O’Brien is greater than that faced by Harold Prince, entrusted with directing Phantom in 1986. As O’Brien reminds me: “The hot number that year was Chess [written by Lloyd Webber’s erstwhile regular collaborator Tim Rice]. Phantom wasn’t anticipated nearly as much as Chess was.”

This time, the anticipation isn’t only greater, it’s distinctly double-edged. Instead of drawing from Gaston Leroux’s 1911 novel about the deformed musical genius who haunts the Paris Opera House, the plot, which jumps from 1881 to 1907 and takes in the fairgrounds of Coney Island, has been conceived from scratch, with input from Frederick Forsyth’s 1999 novel The Phantom of Manhattan, Ben Elton and American lyricist Glenn Slater.

There are those – resentful of Phantom’s juggernaut unstoppability, smarting at its composer’s wealth, or simply unresponsive to Lloyd Webber’s lushly romantic, rock-tinged treatment of Leroux’s melodrama – who would relish the spectacle of Love Never Dies showing up dead on arrival.

Then there are those who are possibly as obsessed with the long-runner as its skulking anti-hero is with the virginal young soprano, Christine, who falls under his spell. And this die-hard contingent are cautious, sceptical, fearful even. At Her Majesty’s, I recently sat next to one such fan, a chap from Munich, who had seen Phantom 25 times, and swore he wouldn’t be seeing Love Never Dies until it had been given the thumbs-up by reviewers.

Towards the new show’s already lurking detractors, O’Brien displays scant regard. “People will say what they want without seeing it, and they’re almost always uninformed.” He sympathises, though, with the apprehension. “We’re not taking this lightly. I have said from the beginning: no one will thank us for doing this. We have to dot every i, and cross every t, in showing why we’re continuing to tell this story.’

Lloyd Webber’s motives, he maintains, are impeccable. “No one had him at gunpoint saying, 'Please come up with something.’ He has thought about this for over 20 years. It has been at the back of his mind, haunting him. If this just was about the franchise, he would have done it years ago. This is about something else.”

What that is, what drives Lloyd Webber’s desire to burrow deeper into the story, involves some guess-work that O’Brien is only partly prepared to indulge in. It hardly escaped notice at the premiere that, with Lloyd Webber’s then wife Sarah Brightman occupying the role of Christine, and Michael Crawford’s misfit Phantom akin to a composer, there was an element of self-portraiture about the business.

'I don’t think there’s any question about that,” he replies. “I don’t make assumptions, but you’d have to be very insensitive not to see this as a curious, mythological parallel universe. I’m aware that there’s a deeply personal template to which I’m not invited that feeds the stream.”

Further than that, he won’t go. But hand on heart, he’ll swear that Lloyd Webber – with lyricist Slater – has delivered the goods, and even trumped the original.

“I think the score is richer and more varied. The colours are more astonishing. There are vaudeville American elements and those great throbbing rock-opera moments, too. He uses everything at his disposal.’’

O’Brien launches into a full-blown aria of appreciation: “We’re in a new country, a new century. From gaslit Paris, we’ve moved into the age of electricity. So there’s a different perspective. We’re picking up, but we’re looking back. The fact that Erik, the Phantom, goes to Coney Island, which at that time was about five times more popular than Las Vegas is today, means that he’s now part of a landscape of people allowed to behave in an unconventional way. That gives him a chance to grow. I don’t know what anyone’s anticipation is but I bet anything they’re going to be really surprised by the direction the story goes in.”

As for the look of the thing, O’Brien adds: “Someone said to me, 'Is there a chandelier moment?’ [referring to the famous first-half climax in Phantom when a chandelier comes crashing to the ground]? I said: 'As far as I’m concerned, the whole evening is going to be a chandelier moment.’’’

For more than 20 years the artistic director of the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, California, O’Brien got this potentially mega-lucrative gig almost by chance – meeting Lloyd Webber for a drink in Covent Garden two and a half years ago, while supervising the hit London transfer of Hairspray.

“We had such fun talking, that I got involved in the creation of it at that point.” In his time, O’Brien has had the odd brush with flops – his own musical, The Selling of the President, closed after five performances in 1972. Yet I realise that not once while we’ve been locked in conversation has the slightest look of fear or doubt entered his eyes. This guy knows something we don’t. Yet.
Love Never Dies’ opens at the Adelphi (0844 412 4651) on March 9

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