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‘Phantom’ sequel to bow in London

'Love' to premiere at Adelphi Theater Nov. 11

LONDON — The phantom finally has a date.

Love Never Dies,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-awaited sequel to his blockbuster tuner “The Phantom of the Opera,” will premiere March 9 at London’s Adelphi Theater before bowing on Broadway Nov. 11 and in Australia in 2011.

Originally skedded for fall 2009, the delayed production was to have opened simultaneously in London, New York and an Asian city rumored to be Shanghai. The London premiere is now set to take place some distance ahead of its international rollout, with previews in the West End beginning Feb. 20. Lloyd Webber announced the new schedule for the show at a press conference Thursday in London.

The already recorded cast album will be released on March 10, the morning after the show’s world premiere.

Staged by the “Hairspray” team of director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell, the production has a book by Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton, with Glenn Slater and Frederick Forsyth, and lyrics by Slater (“The Little Mermaid,” “Sister Act”). 

It will be designed by Bob Crowley with lighting by Paule Constable. Ramin Karimloo will play the Phantom, with Sierra Boggess (“The Little Mermaid”) as Christine. Both actors are revisiting roles they have played before — Karimloo in the London “Phantom” and Boggess in “Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular.” No further casting has yet been announced.

Set 10 years after “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Love Never Dies” continues the story of the obsessive Phantom, who has moved from the Paris Opera House to haunt the fairgrounds of New York’s Coney Island.  

The follow-up has its work cut out for it in trying to emulate the success of “Phantom,” which is still running in London after more than 9,500 performances since its first preview on Sept. 27, 1986. It is also Broadway’s longest-running show (it opened on the Rialto in January 1988) and has been seen by 100 million people worldwide, been translated into 15 languages and appeared in 25 countries including China, Brazil, Poland and Korea. Global album sales are in excess of 40 million copies. The producers describe “The Phantom of the Opera” as the single most successful piece of entertainment of all time, with a total worldwide gross of $5 billion.

Tickets for the musical sequel in London will have a top price of £67.50 ($108) — a new high for the West End.

With work on “Love Never Dies” continuing through much of next year in London and New York, that schedule places a question mark over the timeline for “Catch Me if You Can,” the tuner adaptation of the 2002 Steven Spielberg film, also directed and choreographed by O’Brien and Mitchell, respectively. The show had a tryout run in Seattle this summer, and while no Broadway plans are firmed, legit insiders have been speculating about a possible spring opening.

“We’re weighing all of our options, but we can’t comment at this time,” said Michael Hartman, a spokesman for the show. However, the timing of “Love Never Dies” in London and New York leaves a window open for “Catch Me” to come into Gotham at some point in between.

(David Rooney in New York contributed to this report.)

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