Broadway bow pushed back due to Webber's health

The Broadway bow of “Love Never Dies,” the much-anticipated sequel to legit mega-hit “The Phantom of the Opera,” has been pushed back to spring 2011.

Official reason given for the delay is the health of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, who, according to reps for the show, has been barred from long-haul air travel in the wake of post-operative problems following his diagnosis last fall of prostate cancer.

Webber underwewnt successful surgery immediately after his diagnosis. But recent complications will prevent the uber-successful composer from traveling to Gotham for auditions and other pre-production duties.

Show was originally set to open on Broadway in November following its London opening earlier this month.

The vastly divided critical response in the London press, coupled with the general discontent expressed in the online postings by “Phantom” fans, stirred immediate talk of a possible delay of the big-budget musical’s New York bow to address creative concerns.

No mention of impending creative changes were made in the official announcement of the show’s delay. The production team, including director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, remains attached, and the Neil Simon Theater is still being held for the show.

The delay, however, calls into question the proposed timeline for “Catch Me If You Can,” another tuner to be helmed by O’Brien and choreographed by Mitchell. That production is aiming for a spring berth on Broadway.

For the moment, the potential conflict remains unresolved.

Webber has had a busy several months, with the initial weeks of the West End incarnation of “Love Never Dies” followed by his current role in BBC TV series “Over the Rainbow,” a reality casting skein in search of a thesp to play Dorothy in Webber’s upcoming London production of “The Wizard of Oz.”

As previously announced, Webber aims to roll out stagings of “Love Never Dies” in Australia and Asia later in 2011.

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