‘The Phantom of Coney Island’?
You know times are tough when playwright Andrew Lloyd Webber resorts to mounting a sequel rather than something original. The theatrical maestro has announced Phantom: Love Never Dies, taking place a decade after the events of the original. The Phantom apparently survived his encounter with Christine and has relocated from France to, where else, Coney Island, New York.
The 2009 musical will open simultaneously in three cities — Broadway in New York, London’s West End, and Shanghai – a first for any stage production. Directing will be Jack O’Brien who is known for The Full Monty and Hairspray so is used to the grand sweep of such productions. Sets will be designed by five time Tony Award winner Bob Crowley (Carousel).
According to the Times of London, the Phantom has yet to be cast with speculation over Gerard Butler, who played him in film adaptation, Hugh Jackman, and John Barrowman as possibilities. Whoever stars will be cast opposite an actress playing the younger new love interest.
The original production, still running around the world, has sold in excess of 80 million tickets and helped change the nature of musical theatre. Lloyd Webber, 60, is said to have been working on the sequel for years but only this summer began discussing it in concrete terms,
“Nine weeks ago there was a sing-through of the second act,” The Times reported, “and then, ten days ago, the decision was made:.” “We put the whole thing together with the work we had done on both acts,” Lloyd Webber said. “There is nothing to delay us. The button is pushed.
“It is set on Coney Island. He started in one of the freak shows there but, by the time we meet him, being the Phantom he has become the most powerful operator in Coney. He’s pulling the strings and running the island.”
Somewhere, author Gaston Leroux is rolling in his grave.