Welcome back to Access London everyone. Well, June is in full swing and we are almost at the longest day of the year so, let's look at some fabulous evening entertainment in the capital.
Today's post is the first in a two-part series on Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'Phantastic' sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies. The story jumps 10 years on from where we left The Phantom, Christine and Raoul at the end of Phantom and is set in America in Coney Island.
The setting for the story is absolute genius and a far cry from the dark depths of the Paris Opera House. Instead of torch and candle light, we have the bright, illuminous lights of Coney Island with all the mysteries and wonders that it has to offer. It is here that we find The Phantom who has risen up to run a magical place called Phantasma. Although successful and having the full support of Meg and Madame Giry, The Phantom still longs for Christine and entinces her, Raoul and their son Gustave over from France to sing for him. As you can imagine all is not straight forward and the story has some unexpected twists and a very dramatic final scene.
Instead of ballet girls and opera divas, Love Never Dies gives the audience acrobats, flame throwers, trapeze artists, some effective and very clever projection and smoke work and beautifully designed sets.
The cast is led by Ramin Karimloo as The Phantom, Celia Graham as Christine and David Thaxton as Raoul (The Phantom is played by Tam Mutu on Mondays and Thursdays). After all the re-writes during its first 6 months, the show has settled down into an exquisite piece of musical theatre. I highly recommend seeing the show but would advise audiences who haven't seen the original Phantom show to see that first. Go to see Love Never Dies with an open mind as the characters aren't always as you might expect after seeing the original but once accepting this, it is an extremely enjoyable night out at the theatre.
The Adelphi is located on The Strand, just a short walk from Charing Cross Station and Trafalgar Square. The theatre itself has excellent access if you use a wheelchair or mobility scooter. Although the entrance only has 1 step up into the foyer, there is also a ramp in place. The foyer is all on one level and contains the box office and merchandise shop. There are no steps into the stalls of the theatre making this brilliantly accessible. There are 2 spaces towards the back of the stalls for those who need to remain in a wheelchair. For those who use a scooter or can transfer out of their chair then any aisle seat in the stalls is accessible to you. There is only a very shallow slope down towards the stage and a handrail to hold on to. There is an adapted toilet at the entrance to the stalls. Drinks can be brought to disabled patrons during the interval. I found the front of house staff at The Adelphi to be more than helpful in helping those with disabilities to their seat and assisting them after.
There are performances Monday - Saturday evenings at 7.30pm and also matinee performances on Wednesday and Saturday at 2.30pm. To book access tickets, please call: 08444 124 648 for discounted access tickets for you and a carer. For all other ticket purchases, please call: 0870 264 3333.
Access London has been lucky enough to talk to a couple of the cast members from Love Never Dies. Today we are happy to share with you what Daniel Gourlay (Ensemble) had to say. Please come back tomorrow to check out our interview with Kieran Brown (Ensemble/Cover Roaul).
AL: This is your first outing onto the West End stage, how does it feel?
DG: Stepping out onto the West End stage is an amazing feeling. At first I couldn't believe I was going to be doing this every night as it is a dream come true but now I love going into work, doing something I love with a passion.
AL: The show was under an immense amount of pressure being the sequel to one of the most loved pieces of musical theatre. How do you feel the show and cast has coped with this?
DG: I believe the show has been able to deal with the pressure quite well and I think that everyone within the cast has dealt with it all well by sticking together when we had to make a big change - it has helped us all get through it.
AL: As an Ensemble member you have many costume changes throughout the show. What is it like backstage during a show?
DG: It is mad backstage. It is different for everyone but for me the busiest time is coming out of the opening and getting dressed to do Pier 69 and the hotel scenes as I have 3 changes all very quickly. It is fun though watching all the running around and I am always amazed with all the changes and some of the close calls!
AL: There are lots of special effects and stunts in the show. Did you have to learn any new skills for the show?
DG: Already having a lot of the acrobatic skills under my belt before coming to the show, I haven't had to learn too many new tricks as I was already able to tumble and do lifts. Saying that, we are learning everyday, either off one another or by teaching ourselves. Since joining I have learnt how to do fire twirling and I have just started to learn skills to do flying - this is the top person of a double acted. It is a lot of fun and we are always having a laugh when you see someone land something new or you surprise yourself.
AL: What is your favourite scene to perform in the show and what is your favourite scene to watch?
DG: I think my favourite scene to perform in the show would have to be the opening as that is where I do most of my tricks and I enjoy showing them off. My favourite scene to watch is probably the opening with The Phantom singing Till I Hear You Sing, I always enjoy that.
AL: What is like to be part of an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical?
DG: It is great being part of an Andrew Lloyd Webber production and even better being one of his new ones. I think everyone looks forward to being in one of his shows as there is a magic about the show that you really enjoy and get to perform.
AL: What can audiences expect from Love Never Dies?
DG: Without giving anything away I think you need to come with an open mind to expect anything. I think if you come knowing what might happen or that you want to happen then you won't see everything you want to see. I also recommend seeing Phantom of the Opera before seeing Love Never Dies as the story follows on. If you don't it might be a little more tricky to follow.
AL: How do you prepare yourself before performing?
DG: I prepare myself just to have fun. If you are having fun then the audience will be having fun and enjoying the show. I do make sure I warm up as I do tumble and lift people. Most of my warm up is throwing myself around upside down and making sure everything I do in the show is safe and I am 100% focussed on it.
AL: If you could play any role in musical theatre, what would it be?
DG: It would be to play Cosmo Brown in Singin' in the Rain as that is one of my favourite musicals.
Access London would like to offer a huge Thank You to Daniel for agreeing to participate and answer the questions. Don't forget to check back for Part 2 of our Love Never Dies series tomorrow where there will be an interview with Kieran Brown from the cast.