'Phantom' stage sequel to open in Toronto

TORONTO — The rumor for several months now has been that “Love Never Dies,” the long-awaited stage sequel to musical blockbuster “The Phantom of the Opera,” would open simultaneously in New York, London and Shanghai.

But industry reports confirmed Monday that the show’s North American premiere will take place in October at Toronto’s Canon Theater, where the original “Phantom” launched its Canadian run in September 1989. That engagement played for 10 years, making it the longest run in the country’s theater history.

Neither Mirvish Prods., the Canadian presenters, nor composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group would officially confirm or deny the reports, but insiders insist it’s a done deal.

One of the driving forces behind the decision is said to be the presence in the leading role of Iranian-born, Canadian-bred Ramin Karimloo. The 29-year-old actor currently is playing the masked man in the West End “Phantom,” and is being touted to reprise the role in the sequel when it hits Canada.

With a book by Ben Elton, based on an original concept by Frederick Forsyth, “Love Never Dies” is set in Coney Island in 1907, when a mysterious maestro hires Christine Daae to sing for him. She brings along her husband Raoul and their son Gustave, who might be the Phantom’s child.

The “Hairspray” team of director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell will stage the musical, which is expected to go into production in London in the fall.

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