Jack O'Brien to direct 'Love Never Dies'

Andrew Lloyd Webber is talking up his long-gestating sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera,” telling the London press he’s hoping for a late-2009 preem for three productions bowing simultaneously on Broadway, on the West End and in an Asian market such as Shanghai.

Called “Phantom: Love Never Dies,” the much-discussed project follows the Parisian Phantom to Coney Island, where he reunites with soprano Christine about 10 years after the events of the original tale. With music by Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Glenn Slater, the show will be helmed by Jack O’Brien (“Hairspray,” “The Coast of Utopia”) with sets by Bob Crowley (“Mary Poppins,” “Coast”).

Unlike the plot of “Phantom,” which is taken from the 1909 novel by Gaston Leroux, the storyline for “Love Never Dies” is new, with contributions from Lloyd Webber, Slater and O’Brien.

Details of the production timeline have not been confirmed, and Rialto real estate has not yet been announced.

Casting is similarly up in the air, though Hugh Jackman and Gerard Butler (who played the lead in the 2004 movie of “Phantom”) have been mentioned.

The original “Phantom” preemed on the West End (where it is still playing) in 1986. The tuner, still running in Gotham after its 1988 bow there, is the longest-running show in Broadway history and has grossed more than $710 million.

It has also cultivated a global profile and become a mammoth international hit. According to Lloyd Webber’s production company, the cume for all incarnations of the show has hit £3.5 billion ($5.1 billion).

Given the global success of the original, the sequel to “Phantom” would surely become one of the most anticipated new tuners of the 2009-10 slate. The potential tri-city opening would rep a first for a new musical.

Lloyd Webber has not had a new show on Broadway since “The Woman in White,” which had a disappointing four-month run that began in fall 2005.

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