Several Rewrites for LND

Several Rewrites for LND

Postby ayesha » Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:14 am

I searched for a CD of the Australian performance and here's what I found. I thought it had some interesting info for those who are interested:

At this time, no Australian cast recording of Love Never Dies has been released and there has been no announcement to suggest that there will be one.

The London cast recording was released well in advance of the show's actual opening in the West End and is essentially a concept album. It was recorded in a studio in accordance with Andrew Lloyd Webber's original vision of the show, but the London production underwent several revisions after it opened and another round of rewrites was implemented when the show was eventually re-staged in Australia. Over the course of these rewrites, some plot points were changed, some lyrics were changed, and some music was changed. Consequently, there are even a few songs on the CD that were performed in the live show for only a short period of time (i.e., for the first few months after it opened) and they were never part of the Australian production at all.

For example, both the CD and the original London show opened with a prologue that featured Madame Giry alone at night on a foggy, derelict Coney Island boardwalk, where she reminisced about the old Phantasma amusement park, her daughter's vaudeville act, and a much-vaunted command performance by Christine Daae, "the soprano of the century". An apparition of Miss Fleck suddenly came to life and began to taunt Giry about the events of the past. As Fleck admonished her to, "Remember how it was? Remember...", the monochromatic setting began to morph into its former, full color self. The numerous tattered poster advertisements along the boardwalk slowly mended themselves and various freaks and performers from Phantasma appeared around Madame Giry as she and Fleck sang "The Coney Island Waltz". This scene was conceived with an obvious nod to the prologue of the original Phantom of the Opera show, in that both feature characters in a derelict, latter day setting from which they are swept back in time to tell their story in the place's former glory days.

During the winter rewrites of the London production, the prologue was removed entirely and the show was reconfigured to open with "The Aerie/Till I Hear You Sing", which featured The Phantom alone onstage. This scene was followed by "The Coney Island Waltz", which was reorchestrated as a somewhat slower and more dirge-like piece that was performed by the ensemble as a somber reverie. If you've seen the DVD of the Australian production, then you know that it opens in a similar fashion (although "The Coney Island Waltz" is performed primarily by Gangle, Squelch, and Fleck in the Australian show).

If you purchase the original cast recording, you will notice these and several other differences between the London CD and the Australian DVD. Many people felt that all of the changes were for the better, while some, myself included, preferred certain aspects of the original version. It is difficult to convey the effectiveness of the original prologue scene to those who never saw it, and such individuals are not inclined to miss what they never experienced. The Australian show is nonetheless quite beautiful to look at, features several plot points that were reworked for the better, and is performed by a cast that is, for the most part, more than competent in their roles.

With regards to the principle performers, the question of London vs. Australia has been hotly debated. I purchased the original cast CD when it came out and have listened to it more times than I can count, I saw the London production three times (before and after the rewrites), and I've viewed the Australian DVD twice. It is my personal opinion that Ramin Karimloo (London Phantom) is a technically superior singer to Ben Lewis (Australian Phantom). Mr. Karimloo can hit and hold notes that Mr. Lewis simply can't; Karimloo performs "...till I hear you SING!...once...MORE!" as two distinct power notes, where Lewis delivers just one at the end of the lyric ("...till I hear you sing...once MORE!") and rolls it off relatively quickly. However, Mr. Lewis sometimes acted the role more convincingly than Mr. Karimloo, who played The Phantom in a less sinister manner. Similarly, Anna O'Byrne (Australian Christine) acts her role well and sings it competently, but I feel that her voice lacks the emotional depth and sheer technical excellence displayed by Sierra Boggess (London Christine). This is particularly apparent in their respective performances of the title aria, "Love Never Dies", which serves as the emotional climax of the show. This is a challenging composition to sing which requires a strong and clear upper register in the final chorus; when Ms. O'Byrne reaches this point, she climbs up but fails to demonstrate the clarity and staying power achieved by Ms. Boggess, who delivers a show-stopping performance that never fails to bring a tear to the eye. In short, Ms. O'Byrne sings, but Ms. Boggess SOARS. In my opinion, her performance of this song alone is worth the price of the original London cast recording.

I purchased the London CD and have listened to parts of it on my Cloud. Theo, maybe you can verify this for me but it sounded to me as if Mr. Karimloo is a tenor. Ben Lewis is an obvious baritone and while it may be true that he is technically inferior to Mr. Karimloo, I prefer Ben's deep, powerful baritone to Karimloo's tenor. The above quote is someone else's opinion but I'd be interested to hear what you have to say, Theo.

I bought the sheet music, too - now I can play it along with the music from POTO. :love:
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