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‘Phantom’ sequel goes dark (briefly) in London

West End production to shutter for four perfs in November

The West End production of “Love Never Dies,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to long-running smash “The Phantom of the Opera,” will shut down for four performances Nov. 22-25 in order to incorporate script and lyric changes being made for the upcoming Australian incarnation.

According to industry buzz, producer Bill Kenwright will direct the changes, most of which concern the development of the problematic first act. Also unconfirmed is word the new lyrics are by Charles Hart, one of the lyricists of “Phantom,” with fresh choreography by Bill Deamer.

“Love Never Dies” will begin its international rollout in Melbourne in May.

Lloyd Webber said Thursday, via satellite from London to Australian media, that the tuner would be produced by his Asia Pacific representative, Tim McFarlane. Helmed by Melbourne’s Simon Phillips (“Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”) at the Regent Theater, it will have a new design by Sydney-based Gabriela Tylesova.

A Toronto version of “Love Never Dies” — with yet another helmer attached — is also said to be in the works. Director for that one is tipped to be Craig Revel Horwood, who staged a pared-down version of Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” in London in 2008. It’s understood the Toronto staging is the one slated for an eventual stint on Broadway.

The original director and choreographer of “Love Never Dies” have already confirmed the move on to their next project, with helmer Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell set to stage the tuner adaptation of “Catch Me if You Can” in a Broadway run that begins previews March 7 at the Neil Simon Theater.

“Love Never Dies” opened in the West End in March and, despite widely available ticket discounts, recently announced a four-month extension to its booking period, taking the run up to May 28 at the Adelphi Theater.

Per a statement issued by Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group, “Some changes were written up over the summer and destined for the Australian production and, as they make improvements to the show, we’d be mad not to put them into the Adelphi (production).”

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