For fans of Phantom of the Opera, the sequel to Love Never Dies.
As a delighted fan of Phantom of the Opera, I watched a critique of the sequel –Love Never Dies– with a sort of horrified fascination. And then this strange gem floated into my vision. Written with tongue planted firmly in check, I can still imagine someone off-Broadway doing exactly this kind of play. And even the melodies aren’t hard to imagine.
So… if someone would like to throw money at me to make that happen…
An up and coming dancer tries to rise to stardom at Carnegie Hall, but strange things are afoot as a phantom seems to lurk behind every decision. And a young man from her past threatens to whisk her away to the West Coast. A sequel to Love Never Dies starring the granddaughter of Erik and Christine!
The Play opens on a Mysterious Auction, selling items to bored Millennials taking snapshots of mysterious boxes and monkey music boxes and boxes full of stage props. The next item up for sale is a rare film reel copy of the “Carnegie Follies Fire”, a fire that burned Carnegie Hall in New York during the time right before the first talkies came out. Projected onto a white sheet, the brutal images of screaming fleeing chorus girls and panicked audience catch the attention of the jaded crowd (“Talkie Talkie”) and then the curtain is ripped aside to take us back in time.
A line of showgirls finish up the very last kick and then do a bow and as the curtain falls, break up to do various bits backstage (“Bustle Bustle”). Among them is SIDI (pronounced see-dee). A young ingenue lost amid the more experienced showgirls and frowned and shunned by the older dancers. They finally leave her, lonely, on the stage, with a piano left there. Dejected, she sits down and plays a few notes on the piano.
Her friend MARGARET, who got her the job as a dance-girl comes in, announcing that she didn’t know Sidi could play, or sing. Sidi nods and explains (“My Angel of Music”) that her father used to run an amusement park and was a talented pianist himself. Unfortunately, he died in a tragic fire on a Ferris Wheel and made her promise, on his deathbed, never to go into show business. It’s a promise she broke by becoming a showgirl. Her singing and playing reminds her of him. But she knows she’ll never amount to much and leaves in tears.
The next day, the lead girl in the chorus comes down with a cold that management says will last nine months. At Margaret’s prompting, the bosses ask Sidi to sing the chorus and she does so perfectly. Management hires her as the temporary lead until they find a new one; they refuse to pay more than her normal wages. Because she’s so new. But they’re sure this can only lead to better opportunities for her in the future (“For the Exposure”).
As Sidi leaves to celebrate, the bosses congratulate themselves on a profit well made. But one of them shivers, feeling something strange has entered Carnegie Hall, something… ominous.
Sidi’s first glorious moment on stage (“This is my Moment (Interrupted)”). It’s upstaged by the piano she first played for Margaret dropping from the rafters. It almost kills the girls behind her and scaring Sidi practically to death.
Backstage, the girls complain about the myriad of problems that happened since management selected Sidi as head of the chorus (“Break a Leg”).
One person is very happy to see Sidi’s performance, though; an investor from the West Coast, Tommy Viscount (“It Can’t Be So”). At his demand, the bosses arrange a meet between him and Sidi (“It Can’t be So” (Reprise)).
The two come together. It’s not long before Sidi recognizes him: Tommy Gunnderson, who she knew as a child (“Tiny Tommy Christmas”). What Sidi had not told Margaret before is that she had to jump from the flaming Ferris Wheel to survive. The fall crippled her. She used advanced stretches and musical exercises taught to her by her father to regain her mobility. Tommy was a dirt poor cripple on the street whom she empathized with. She befriended him and made him feel special.
It’s Tommy’s turn to tell his story (“Racing the Sun”). Inspired by her, he traveled West and got involved with the movie scene. The different climate and rigorous hours helped heal him and now he runs his own studio. He’s looking to get into a new thing called “talkies”. He wonders if Sidi might be the kind of person who is the key to his studio’s success (“Reach for the Stars”). She feels flattered but unconvinced.
The two part and discuss their personal issues with the proposal. Sidi talks to Margaret. Margaret expresses her opinion that Tommy — a male, in power, and full of himself — may only want her for sex (“Triple Threat”). Tommy expresses his doubts to himself. His studio is failing, the age of silent film is over. Without the right person, the studio might not be able to transition to the age of talkies (“Triple Threat (Reprise)”). The bosses come out and discuss that their contract with Sidi is for nine months… and she’d better not back out without recompense or there will be trouble (“Sign on the Bottom Line”)
And then emerges… the Phantom. The Phantom who is righteously furious that Sidi has taken to the stage, in spite of her father’s wishes. And she allows herself to be manipulated by the bosses, AND Sidi might end up dating a studio exec. (“Triple Threat (Reprise) Reprised”). The Phantom vows to tear down the girl’s world once and for all. He cackles loudly and then vanishes in a burst of flame.
A couple of months have passed. Sidi complains to Margaret. She feels confused. Is Tommy trying to date her or hire her (“The Male of the Species”). Unknown to Sidi, Margaret is carrying a torch for Tommy. She wants to go with him to the West Coast instead of Sidi (“The Torch is My Heart”).
Tommy can’t afford to pay the bosses what they are asking to release Sidi from her contract, but the bosses have troubles of their own. The amount of mishaps and creepy things going on at Carnegie Hall are driving away employees and customers alike. (“The Blame Game”).
The Phantom, sewing chaos everywhere, has been giving Margaret singing lessons and reveals that once, the Phantom had a daughter who abandoned everything the Phantom held dear (“Once I Had a Daughter”). The Phantom is also trying to push Tommy into liking Margaret, but to little success.
A major performance for the Hall’s donors (including people from City Hall) goes horribly wrong due to the Phantom, with the body of a stagehand dropped and strangled from the rafters, almost pulling down the lighting on the audience and showering them with sparks as the Phantom happily croons a merry jig. (“Oops! A Little Nostalgia Ain’t a Bad Thing… For Me”)
Sidi confronts Tommy backstage during the chaos, furious that he’s dragging his feet on hiring her (“Give Me a Sign”). Tommy unburdens himself and admits that he doesn’t have the money to pay off the contract (“Triple Threat (Reprise) (Reprise)”). Sidi reveals that the contract isn’t valid; she signed it with her stage name, Sidi . Her real name is C.D.– Christine Daaé – named after her grandmother.
Tommy tells her to get packed.
Sidi runs to get her stuff, but then Margaret confronts Tommy. Violently angry and armed with a knife , she unleashes the fact that she wanted to go to the West Coast with Tommy. At first misunderstanding her, he argues that Sidi is the better choice but as their back-and-forth goes on, he finally gets that Margaret is requesting a relationship that is sexual in nature. He agrees to give it a shot and offers to take her along (“Up Against a Wall”). The knife proves to be a prop knife.
Sidi arrives, ready to go, but suddenly, flames spring up at the exits. The Phantom emerges, furious. All of the Phantom’s worst fears have occurred and the Phantom is willing to stop them… with death (“The Torch of My Heart is My Torch”).
This turn of event shocks Sidi. And, as the Phantom reveals the reasons, Sidi assumes the Phantom is her father. She rips off the Phantom’s mask. It’s not her father.
It’s an elderly Madame Giry!
Madame Giry had fallen into a coma when her daughter, Meg, died in prison after killing Sidi’s grandmother at a pier on Coney Island. When she awoke, decades later, the Phantom’s vigorous love for the only woman who served him consistently renewed her vitality. A nd advanced stretching and musical exercises the Phantom had taught his son – G ustave (Sidi’s father) – helped her keep that health until now (“All the Monkeys in My Circus”).
Spent by all her exertions and wrecked by all the hypocrisy and pain, the Phantom is going to burn it all down. Sidi, shocked by all the revelations, goes up to her godmother and ask s her if she truly wants to deny the legacy of the Phantom’s gifts to the world. (“Look with your Heart / Love Never Dies”). Broken, the Phantom lets them go.
As in the beginning, in the background, there are chorus girls running, screaming, as pandemonium erupts and people are dying. Margaret, Tommy, and Sidi cheerfully take one another by the hand and walk away, a new adventure in the West awaiting them (“Reach for the Stars” (Reprise)) as the theater behind them burns and the curtain falls.
14 Nov 2:37p