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story.lead_photo.caption Company manager Aaron Quintana talks Wednesday backstage at the Robinson Center Performance Hall in Little Rock about some of the sets used for the production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies. The show runs through Sunday. - Photo by Staton Breidenthal

Love never dies. And neither do well-crafted musicals on the topic.

Witness Love Never Dies, Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, which opened Tuesday at Little Rock's Robinson Center Performance Hall.

With lyrics by Glenn Slater and book by Webber, Ben Elton, Frederick Forsyth and Slater, loosely adapted from Forsyth's novel The Phantom of Manhattan, the show has been out on the road without first having had a Broadway run. But you'd never know it from the spectacular sets, props, costumes and lighting.

The setting: 1907, on New York's Coney Island, where The Phantom (Bronson Norris Murphy), late of Paris, runs a freakish amusement park populated by acrobats, dancers and a little person, Fleck (played nicely by Katrina Kemp). His scheme to lure love object Christine Daae (Meghan Picerno) from Europe to New York gets an assist because she and her husband, Raoul (Sean Thompson), need money on account of his gambling problem.

Listening to Picerno's voice, it's easy to understand The Phantom's longing to hear her sing again. Others in the cast are good, but none measure up to her operatic talents, the magnitude of which you realize when she first sings "Look With Your Heart" to her son, Gustave. Jake Heston Miller, who slowly revealed his own amazing vocal talents, played him Tuesday night, alternating in the role with Christian Harmson).

Murphy is no slouch, though. He gradually rises to the challenge of convincing Christine to again sing for him while her dissolute husband figures out he must make an effort to keep her from leaving him and Gustave begins to fall under the spell of The Phantom and his show folks.

There are enough plot twists to amaze and entertain, and knowledge of The Phantom of the Opera is not crucial. There's an impressive early moment with the arrival of a giant carriage on stage, and the cast does splendid work on songs that are new to most of us, the best of which are "Bathing Beauty," "Once Upon Another Time," "Devil Take the Hindmost" and, of course, the title song.

There are no performances today (Thanksgiving Day), but Love Never Dies lives again, courtesy of Celebrity Attractions, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at Robinson, 426 W. Markham St. at Broadway.

Ticket information is available by calling (501) 244-8800 or online at CelebrityAttractions.com or Ticketmaster.com.

Photo by Staton Breidenthal
Cast member Lauren Lukacek displays a costume Wednesday that she wears in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies. The show runs through Sunday at the Robinson Center Performance Hall in Little Rock.

Metro on 11/22/2018

Print Headline: With lyrics by Slater, book by Webber, Love Never Dies lives

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