I watched the London production of Love Never Dies various times despite not being sold on the story. Reason was the great score and the wonderful cast.
When I first heard about a German production of the show I was absolutely sure I would give it a miss – just like I do with most shows over here. However, circumstances arose that meant I would find myself in the Operettenhaus in Hamburg on a cold evening in December.
First of all Liebe Stirbt Nie is adapted from the Australian production of Love Never Dies which differs from the London production in terms of set and costumes. The score remains mostly untouched but has been translated into German.
Mathias Edenborn (alternate) played the Phantom on this occasion. He has a rich voice and manages to do the score justice. I admit I wasn’t blown away by his performance though. His portrayal seemed over-dramatic but that might be the way he has been directed to play the part so I will give him the benefit of the doubt. I simply prefer the Phantom to be a bit more subtle with just the occasional outburst which then comes across as even more meaningful and gripping.
But then subtleness is not what Liebe Stirbt Nie is about. This show wants to wow the audience by putting on a true extravaganza. Sadly it fails. The set is meant to be impressive and colourful but the stage is too small for all the various bits and pieces. Everything looks cramped and a lot of the set’s beauty is lost due to lack of space. Some of the costumes appear too bright, too colourful and therefor lose their elegance – whoever thought Christine’s peacock dress was a good idea: I’m saying no.
Jazmin Gorsline (alternate) is a cute Christine but lacks the vocal strength to do the big title song justice. I remember being speechless the first time I saw and heard Sierra Boggess perform this song in London – it was such a beautiful scene that built up to the most astonishing finale with Chistine standing at the front of the stage belting out these incredible notes. Jazmin Gorsline sings the song well enough but she doesn’t manage to make it that one moment you will remember, that one song that breaks your heart a little.
Yngve Gasoy-Romdal’s Raoul is the drunk, sad excuse of a husband you expect to see. I still think that character is one of the hardest to play in the show. It’s tough to get the fine line between making Raoul someone the audience feels for depsite his faults and portraying a man the audience simply hates. Too much on either side and Raoul becomes a Panto-like character. Yngve did ok but I got the feeling he wasn’t really taking the character seriously. I can’t blame him – Raoul has gone from knight in shining armour straight to drunk, abusive idiot. It never made sense to me and it never will.
The rest of the cast did a good job with the material they’d been given – special mention for Björn Klein who was a wonderfully creepy Squelch. But said material is the problem that makes Liebe Stirbt Nie a very mixed bag. The story is ridiculous, simple as that. Looking at Phantom of the Opera the characters have undergone a completey unbelievable development. Some moments in the show are nothing but cringeworthy.
However, the score remains one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best works in my opinion. And while the German translation is far from perfect the beautiful melodies make the songs a joy to listen to.
So, is Liebe Stirbt Nie a failure? Not entirely. Is it a show you need to watch? No.
But as always I’m asking you to make up your own mind. Liebe Stirbt Nie is running at the Operettenhaus in Hamburg. For more info and tickets visit http://www.stage-entertainment.de/musicals-shows/liebe-stirbt-nie-hamburg.html.