Thoughts While Listening To “Love Never Dies”

Normally I write reviews over cast albums, but for this particular post, I thought it would be fun to write my thoughts as I listen to the “Love Never Dies” London Cast Recording.

The “Love Never Dies Soundtrack has been out since 2010 and includes the vocal talents of Ramin Karimloo (Phantom), Sierra Boggess (Christine) and Joseph Millson (Raoul) as the three main characters. The recording also features Sally Dexter as Madame Giry and Summer Strallen as Meg Giry. The music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Glenn Slater.

While the musical is not as popular as “The Phantom of the Opera,” the score is amazing, however, some of the lyrics are laughable. So sit back and enjoy my thoughts as I listen to “Love Never Dies.”

 

Prologue (Love Never Dies)
I actually really like this song. It’s like in the beginning of “Phantom.” It’s slightly creepy and it leaves the audience wondering what happened that took place during the musical.

You tell Madame Giry, Fleck!

Why wasn’t this in the Australian production on DVD?

The Cony Island Waltz
I would skip this song, but the music is captivating. This is what happens when you listen to a musical by ALW.

That’s the Place That You Ruined, You Fool!
So… It’s Madame Giry’s fault?

Heaven By the Sea
This song means nothing to me.

Apparently Coney Island is extremely poplar and the Phantom is just as mysterious as ever.

Only For Him/Only For You
So, Meg wants the Phantom’s attention. HAHAHAHA!

Meg is obsessed with being a star.

This song is annoying.

Good vocals on that last, “You.”

The Ayrie
The score is so beautiful! One of my favorite songs on the soundtrack.

This is just an example of ALW’s genius and talent.

Till I Hear You Sing
“Ten long years.”

I love Ramin’s voice.

This song is so beautiful and so sad.

Phantom just wants Christine back.

Phantom: “Let hopes pass, let dream pass. Let them die! Without you what are they for?”
My feels!

Giry Confronts the Phantom/ ‘Til I Hear You Sing (Reprise)
Meg: Trying to get Phantom’s attention
Phantom: Doesn’t care

Phantom: “Careful Madame. You’re forgetting yourself.” Too late.

Madame Giry is MEAN! Stop reminding the Phantom of Christine and that she wasn’t there for the last ten years!

Phantom seems to have controlled his temper. Better to have him yell in your face than threaten or murder you.

Christine Disembarks
I know this number takes place weeks later, but how many?

Raoul is a jerk.

The journalists are annoying.

Arrival of the Trio/ Are You Ready to Begin?
This song is so short, but I love the minions and Raoul needs a chill pill.

What a Dreadful Town!
Poor Gustave just wants to play with his dad.

Stop yelling Raoul.

Christine is trying so hard to save her marriage.

I feel so bad for Christine. Poor girl didn’t sign up for this and Phantom didn’t let them go just so Raoul could be a terrible husband and father.

Look With Your Heart
Aw, I love this song.

Beneath a Moonless Sky
Love the intro music!

Christine has some serious backbone when she’s dealing with the Phantom.

Um… no comment on what they’re singing about. Beautiful voices though.

I wonder if they know their kid is in the other room.

Christine: “And I loved you. Yes, I loved you. I’d have followed anywhere you led. I woke to swear my love and found you gone instead.”
Nice going Phantom.

Once Upon Anther Time
Another sad, yet beautiful song.

Phantom: “Were it still that other time, I’d make time itself somehow bend. But now I’m not that strong and time keeps moving on.”
My feels!

They still love each other. It’s so sad!

“Mother Please, I’m Scared!”
I don’t think Phantom likes Gustave, since he thinks Gustave is Raoul and Christine’s child.

Dear Old Friend
Everyone hates each other, except Christine, who is the only happy one.

Nice job Madame Giry, you told Raoul the Phantom is still alive and is Christine’s boss.

Raoul: “I’ll deal with you later.”
Raoul, you JERK!

Meg: “Don’t play naïve.”
Meg is savage.

They can’t keep track of Gustave. Foreshadowing?

Beautiful
I love the minions.

Phantom is figuring it out.
“He plays like me.”
“He’s just ten years old.”

“Ten years oooooooooooold!”

Phantom: OMG

The Beauty Underneath
I can picture Gerard Butler rocking out to this song.

Basically the Phantom and Gustave have the same mind.

Phantom is already a proud father. It’s so adorable!

Don’t show him your face, Phantom!

Based on that scream, I’m just going to say Gustave is definitely his parents’ child.

The Phantom Confronts Christine
The truth is out!

Phantom: “My own flesh and blood. And even he recoils in horror from me. Just like his mother.”
OUCH!

Of course the Phantom is going to give Gustave his park, I don’t know why Madame Giry thought she was going to get it.

Ok, seriously what happened to Madame Giry in the last ten years? Did living in America make her greedy?

Entr’acte (Love Never Dies)
Not crazy about this song.

*Checks social media*

Why Does She Love Me?
Raoul is drunk and pouring his soul out.

I recently read that John Barrowman was going to play Raoul in LND, but was replaced by Joseph. Another article said John backed out due to complications with ALW. Now I want to hear John sing this song, however, I love Joseph’s version.

Well Raoul if you would get off your butt, stop drinking and spend more time with your family, maybe your marriage would be fine.

This song just proves that Raoul doesn’t have that bond that Christine and Phantom have.

Ugh, he’s so greedy.

Devil Take the Hindmost
I call this song, “Men Being Idiots.”

I can’t believe they’re betting over Christine. She’s not a trophy!

Raoul: “I won her long ago…”
No, Raoul. Christine saved you and then Phantom let you both leave. YOU were nearly hung because you forgot to keep your hand at the level of your eyes.

Phantom, I don’t think you’re the right person to tell Raoul that Gustave is not his child. Not your place buddy.

Raoul doesn’t care that he’s possibly going to loose his family until the end of the song.

Heaven By the Sea (Reprise)
Why am I listening to this?

Is the excitement surrounding the park and ensemble supposed to contrast against the bleak mood that surrounds the major characters?

Ladies… Gents! / The Coney Island Waltz (Reprise)
Boring.

Bathing Beauty
*Skips song because I can’t stand it*

“Mother Did You Watch?”
Poor Meg.

Before the Performance
Gustave and Christine have the cutest mother/son relationship.

Christine: “Once this performance is through, we’ll spend some time just us two.”
This just makes the ending even more sad.

Raoul: “Just ask it of me.”
Too late for “All I Ask of You” references, Raoul.

Phantom comes in like, “Two can play at this game.”

Both men just want Christine and Gustave in their lives. If you both want Gustave, it’s called joint custody.

There’s no question Christine will choose Phantom over Raoul at this point. He seems to understand her on a level that Raoul doesn’t and never will. Proof that this musical is for Phantom/Christine shippers.

Love that they added “Twisted Every Way.”

Devil Take the Hindmost (Quartet)
This song is basically “The Final Lair” without the Phantom’s temper and Raoul’s life being threatened.

Phantom and Raoul: “Do it for our son.”
Seriously boys, it’s called joint custody.

Phantom, Raoul, Madame Giry: “All is on the line.”
They got that right.

Random stage manager: “And curtain.”
Hahaha.

Love Never Dies
Long, boring intro. It goes on for over a minute, geez.

This song reminds me of the events in “Phantom.” Are they trying to excuse the Phantom’s actions, or am I just overthinking?

As much as I love this song, nothing will beat “The Phantom of the Opera,” when it comes to title songs.

Sierra set the bar high for this one.

“Ah, Christine…”
Phantom and Christine are officially reunited (and it feels so good).

Bye, Raoul.

Raoul: “Romantic idiots.”
Didn’t look so idiotic in “Phantom.” Everyone is so out of character.

“Gustave! Gustave!…”
Phantom is in worried daddy mode.

Phantom is actually scary in this number.

Phantom: “My patence is running dry!”
Yeah, you don’t want to mess with the Phantom’s patience.

Phantom: “Gustave, Gustave, Gustave!”
Holy cow. Not going to lie, Ramin nailed those screams.

How does Phantom know where Meg took Gustave? Oh, the bar scene in “Why Does She Love Me,” when Meg was talking about the sea and Phantom was waiting to make his appearance. I can’t believe I just now figured that out.

“Please Miss Giry, I Want to Go Back…”
Let him go Meg, he’s just a kid.
She has really lost it at this point.

Phantom: “What are you saying?”
Phantom, are your mask  and wig on too tight? She basically pulled a Fantine to help with your park.

Phantom: “We can’t all be like Christine.”
*Face palm* Nice going Phantom.

Christine: “Your real father.”
LND, a musical “Star Wars.”

Is ALW trying to say that Phantom and Christine can never be together?

I feel so bad for Phantom. Christine is dying, he’s now a single father to a child he just met a few days ago and he was only happy for a few minutes.

I would turn this song off, but the score is so pretty.

Okay, it’s over now and I’m sad.

“Anastasia” Original Broadway Cast Recording Review

It is finally here! The “Anastasia” Broadway cast recording is out after months of anticipation. 90’s and early 2000 kids can now rejoice and go on a journey to the past.

The Broadway adaption of “Anastasia” is based on the 1997 animated film of the same name. The soundtrack includes original songs made for the stage version. Among new music are the classics such as, “Once Upon a December” and “Journey to the Past” from the movie.

The original cast recording features Christy Altomare as Anastasia/Anya, Derek Klena as Dmitry and Mary Beth Peil as Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna. The album also includes John Bolton as Vlad and Ramin Karimloo as Gleb, a new character replacing Rasputin from the 1997 film.

Christy Altomare’s voice is phenomenal. She does Liz Calloway justice, especially in “Journey to the Past” and “Once Upon a December.” The new song, “In My Dreams” is fantastic and Altomare put so much emotion into the recording.

Derek Klena has a very impressive vocal range and sounds almost exactly like John Dokuchitz (singing voice for Dmitry in film). Klena’s voice really shines in the new songs, “In a Crowd of Thousands” and “My Petersburg.”

One of the most popular villain songs, “In the Dark of the Night” is not included in the Broadway cast album. However, the new song, “Still” is hauntingly beautiful and Ramin Karimloo nailed it. He put a lot of emotion into “The Neva Flows” and he really showed  his vocal power in “Still/The Neva Flows (Reprise).”

Mary Beth Peil’s solo, “Close the Door,” is heartbreakingly beautiful. Unfortunately, she only sang a few songs on the soundtrack, but that does not take away how wonderful her voice is. John Bolton did a fantastic job with the recording as well. His voice shines in every song he sang on the album.

The new songs are amazing and the few from the film did not let me down. The cast did a phenomenal job and I can only imagine what it would be like to see the show on stage.

I have grown up with Disney films and several musicals, but there is something about “Anastasia” that absolutely stunning and the Original Broadway Cast Recording is even more so. It is a must have for those who grew up with the 1997 movie.

“Phantom of the Opera” 2004 v.s. 25th Anniversary

“The Phantom of the Opera” is a story about love, seduction and mystery. Over the years there have been countless film versions, including the 2004 movie based off the 1986 musical adaption. For the 25th anniversary of the stage show, the London performance was filmed at the Royal Albert Hall and released on DVD months later.

The movie is now considered below par among most “Phans” who love the stage show. Gerard Butler, Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson starred in it and Joel Schumacher directed it.

Watching the film now, I have noticed a few things I did not a few years ago. The leads are not as impressive as I thought previously, and a few things do not make sense, one of them is the “Point of No Return” scene. It looks as if Christine is plotting her own plan, rather than being scared like in the stage show.

After years of the 2004 movie being the only source to view the musical when it was not on tour, it was a surprise when the “Phantom” team announced the 25th anniversary of the stage show would be recorded and released on DVD in 2011 for the U.K. and 2012 for the U.S.

The 25th anniversary starred Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess and Hadley Fraser as the lead roles. Karimloo and Boggess had been in different productions of “Phantom” and co-stared in the “Phantom” sequel, “Love Never Dies.” Fraser was the only actor of the three who had no experience with the show.

Butler and Karimloo played the Phantom differently, however, Karimloo portrayed the role on West End and had more experience. He made the role his own and has a fantastic voice.

Butler is more of an actor than a singer, which is not good considering the role is vocally demanding and the Phantom is meant to have an angelic voice. Schumacher chose Butler because of his looks, rather than his voice and told him to “make it sexy” during filming.

The Phantom is not meant to be a physically handsome man. The character’s voice and skills as a musician are what make him beautiful. His desire for love and to have an undeformed face are what make him human and depending on who portrays the Phantom, he can be a bit childlike. While these are traits that make the audience love him, he is meant to be insane, angry and murderous, which is why people in the show fear him.

Boggess and Rossum are very different in their portrayals of Christine. Like Karimloo, Boggess had previously played her role and is considered a fan favorite. She has an incredible soprano voice and put a lot of emotion into the character.

Rossum was 16 years old at the time of filming for the 2004 movie and while she is a good actress, there was not a lot of emotion in her voice, which is an important aspect of the show. Her version of “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” is mediocre and I did not hear the sadness or desperation that the song requires when I last watched the film.

Christine is vocally and physically demanding role. The character has the most stage time; she is a ballet dancer and hits the highest note in the musical (E6). Throughout the show the audience can see her character development, as she goes from being shy and innocent to a woman who is not afraid to stand up for herself.

Stage actors, Fraser and Wilson are very different in their portrayals of Raoul. Fraser’s Raoul tended to come off as rude, angry and a bit unemotional. He is not my favorite and it did not help he was playing Javert in the stage version of “Les Misérables” at the time. However, he had the right look and he has a great voice. He would make a fantastic Phantom if he ever decided to portray the role.

Originally, Wilson auditioned for the Phantom, but was given the role of Raoul. He did a great job with the character and had a good voice to match. Unfortunately, his long and distracting wig often overshadows this.

Raoul is the anti-Phantom. He is handsome, young and his love for Christine is pure. He will risk his own life for the woman he loves and is not intimidated by the Phantom. Depending on who plays the role, Raoul is either likable or hated. It all comes down to the actor.

The biggest hit or miss for any “Phantom” film is the deformity. Why is this important?

  • It is a part of the Phantom’s appearance
  • It is part of the reason why the Phantom is bitter and angry at the world
  • It is the reason why the Phantom is insecure
  • It gives Christine a reason to fear him in the first act
  • It is a mystery to the audience until nearly the end of the musical
  • It shows the makeup artist’s talent

A “Phan’s” definition of a good deformity means the Phantom’s face has to look hideous and he must have very little hair. We saw it in the anniversary; unfortunately, we received the exact opposite in the 2004 film. The Phantom had a head full of blonde hair and the deformity looked like a sunburn.

The sets in both films are different. The movie has a more realistic set design, including a few ideas from the novel, which I love. The look for the opera house was very well done, especially for the stage. I liked the underground lair and the Phantom’s organ.

The 25th anniversary included props from the original stage show. Unfortunately, some of them had to be left out, but the cast was able to work around it. Personally, I prefer this set because it gives the audience the magic of the musical.

I grew up with the 2004 version of “Phantom,” but the 25th anniversary is my favorite. It introduced me to actors I did not know of in 2012 and it gave me a higher appreciation for people involved in theater. It is fantastic and is a must have for any fan of the stage show or movie.

If I could recast the “Phantom of the Opera” movie in 2016

Do you ever watch “The Phantom of the Opera” 2004 movie and say, “What were they thinking?”

Do you ever wish they had cast Ramin Karimloo as Raoul instead of Christine’s father, who only had two, three second cameos. Do you wish they had casted a vocally stronger Christine, a younger looking Raoul and a better singer than Gerard Butler? So do I.

If I could recast “The Phantom of the Opera” movie in 2016, this is who I would cast:

Phantom

John BarrowmanJohn-Barrowman-image-john-barrowman-36440683-600-850

Barrowman played Raoul in “Phantom” on West End (London) in 1992. He has a lot of stage experience, having been in many musicals before he was on television. He has also recorded several albums over the years and has toured after their releases.

Barrowman is famous for being on the television shows “Doctor Who,” “Torchwood” and “Arrow.” He currently plays the villain in the latter, so Phantom would not be a big stretch.

Like Gerard Butler, he is Scottish and very good looking. Unlike Butler, he is a professional theater actor, who is vocally trained and would have more knowledge of what the role requires.

 

Christine

Julia UdineUnknown

Udine is 22-years-old, portrayed Christine on the “Phantom” U.S. tour and is currently playing the same role on Broadway. She has a spectacular voice and is a fan favorite due to her age and career.

I saw her twice on tour and she is one of my favorite actresses who has played the role of Christine. Her acting and vocal range are amazing.

Like Emmy Rossum, Udine is one of the youngest actresses to play the role. Unlike Rossum, Udine is a professional theater actress and knows what is required to play the role. She can sing with emotion and her voice would not be as low during “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.”

 

Raoul

Chris McCarrellIMG_6400

McCarrell is currently portraying Marius in the “Les Misérables” revival (closing in March). He is young, has a great voice and has a smile that melts fangirls’ hearts.

Personally, I think he would be a great fit if he was given the chance to play Raoul, even on Broadway. He would portray the role better than Patrick Wilson, who has a great voice, but wore a terrible wig and looked too old for the part.

 

 

Meg

Samantha BarksSamantha Barks, Awardsline, December 15, 2012

Barks is one of the biggest names in musical theater. She got her start in on the BBC show “I’d Do Anything,” a show where girls and young boys competed to play Nancy and Oliver for the musical, “Oliver.” She was the youngest competitor and came in third.

Since “I’d Do Anything,” Barks was in “Les Misérables” on West End, the 25th anniversary concert and 2012 movie version as Eponine. She played the role of Nancy in the “Oliver” U.K. tour in 2011 before leaving to film “Les Mis” and returning a year later. She has been in several movies and musicals since then.

Barks is a Mezzo-Soprano and she can dance, so I think she could portray Meg and do the role justice. I am a huge fan of hers and I know this is a role she would knock out of the park.

 

Madame Giry

Idina Menzel

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Is there anything this woman cannot do? Musicals, movies, television shows, albums and a large fan base from around the world. This woman can do it all.

Menzel started her Broadway career as Maureen in the musical, “Rent,” a role she reprised 10 years later for the movie version. Since then she has been in “Wicked,” a role which she won a Tony for, but her overall career seemed to take off once she played Elsa in Disney’s, “Frozen.”

While she has never played a role like Madame Giry, that I know of, she would nail it. Plus, I would love to see her and Barks playing mother and daughter.

 

Carlotta

Kristin ChenowethUnknown-1

Another woman who can do anything and she can do it in style. She is also from my home state, Oklahoma, so I am a bit biased.

Chenoweth is another fan favorite. She is funny, can hold some very high notes and can play any role she is given. She won a Tony for her role as Sally in “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” has been in several other musicals, movies, television shows and hosted the Tony Awards in 2015 with Alan Cumming.

Chenoweth is well known for originating the role of the popular girl, G(a)linda in the musical, “Wicked,” so I do not think Carlotta is much of a stretch. Chenoweth is a very talented actress and has a fantastic voice, I would love to see her as Carlotta.

 

Andre and Firmin (The Managers)

Ramin Karimloo and Hadley Fraser

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Hadley Fraser (left) and Ramin Karimloo (right)

Over the past few years these two have been known to portray enemies while in a musical together. In the “Phantom” 25th anniversary in 2011, Karimloo played Phantom and Fraser played Raoul. On West End’s “Les Misérables” in 2012, Karimloo played Jean Valjean and Fraser played Javert. In reality, they are best friends and have their own band.

I can very easily see Karimloo and Fraser as the managers.  I think they would have fun with it and make the audience laugh. The roles are not as vocally challenging as the Phantom and Raoul are, but it would give Fraser and Karimloo a chance to act like goofballs.

BONUS:

The Auctioneer

Michael Crawfordarticle-1362592-0D7561ED000005DC-603_468x665

The original Phantom and inspiration to many, who was robbed of his chance to be in the 2004 “Phantom” movie, Michael Crawford. That is all.