There were lukewarm reviews for Andrew Lloyd Webber's Love Never Dies with some critics doubtful the long-awaited sequel to The Phantom Of The Opera will prove as successful as the original.
Writing in The Daily Mail, Quentin Letts declared: “A hit? Not quite.” Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph described the musical — which features Ulster girl Niamh Perry — as “Lloyd Webber's finest show since the original Phantom”.
But, given the popularity of recent musical comedies such as Hairspray, Sister Act and Legally Blonde, he wondered whether audiences would fork out for “two-and-a-half hours of dark Gothic imaginings, seething passion and sudden, violent death”.
Letts writes off the musical's opening as “stodgy”, complaining it did not really “smoke into life” until 20 minutes in — and even then it “sputters for a while”.
He said the first scene was memorable only for its “expensive backdrop” of New York's Coney Island with its white-knuckle fairground rides, dancing girls and a “horror-movie-style lair for the Phantom”.
He added: “The night ends with a death scene so long that it may only reignite the euthanasia debate.”
Michael Billington in The Guardian said: “What the show lacks, in a nutshell, is narrative tension.”
While Benedict Nightingale in The Times asked: “So where's the tension in Ben Elton and Lloyd Webber's book?”