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The Dress Circle: Andrew Lloyd Webber - No Broadway Transfer... Yet

Andrew Lloyd Weber and London's Shaftsbury Avenue

We’re continuing with last week’s theme on this week’s Dress Circle (2/27 7:00 p.m.), but we’re limiting the shows that had London but no Broadway productions (yet) to three of those written by Andrew Lloyd Webber: “Stephen Ward,” “The Beautiful Game,” and “Love Never Dies.”

“Stephen Ward” appeared in the West End in 2013 and was a musicalization of the life of the titular character and his supposed connection to 1963’s Profumo Affair. The show only ran four months possibly due to few people remembering or caring about the scandal, or a main character (well played by Alexander Hanson) who is rather unlikable. It also may be due to the fact that it was unclear if the musical meant to be a satirical comedy or an emotional treatment of the material.

“The Beautiful Game” fared a bit better, running just over eleven months after opening in September of 2000. The show looks at how “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969 affect the members of a Catholic football (soccer) team and the lives of a young couple divided by their religion. Seen by some critics as “too crass” while others made comparisons to “West Side Story,” many audience members felt that the material just wasn’t suited for a musical. One of the best songs in the score (after appearing in several other guises over the years), “Our Kind of Love,” was cut when the show was reworked, but that song would end up as “Love Never Dies,” an anti-climatical aria for Christine in our third musical.

“Love Never Dies” is Webber’s sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera” and was nowhere nearly as successful running only around eighteen months even after the show had been closed, reworked, and a new director brought in. Webber said this wasn’t a sequel, but it takes place ten years after the events of “The Phantom of the Opera” when the Phantom is supposedly dead, and Christine is married to Raoul and has a son named Gustave. They all come to Coney Island where the Phantom is ensconced, running a freak show he calls Phantasma with the help of Madam Giry and Meg who is the leading performer at Phantasm. It seems to have all of the hallmarks of a sequel. It was reworked for the Australian production where it received much better notices.

Will these shows ever make it Broadway? “Love Never Dies” may one day arrive, but the first two seem to be subjects that will have a great deal of difficulty finding an American audience. Join us this week for a sample of these scores, and see what you think.

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Ted Otten is co-host of The Dress Circle
Michael is program host and host of the WWFM Sunday Opera, Sundays at 3 pm, and co-host of The Dress Circle, Sundays at 7 pm.