Set ten years after the end of “The Phantom of the Opera,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Love Never Dies” tells the story of what happened next. The characters are back and better than ever in this sequel to the original. Sean Thompson, who plays Raoul in the musical, expressed his excitement to bring the show to the Broward Center of the Performing Arts Nov. 7 -Nov. 19.
Can you set the stage for us?
“Ten years later, after ‘The Phantom of the Opera,’ Christine has become a giant opera star in New York, and Raoul has become a gambler and lost a lot of the family’s money and because of that, has become a heavy drinker. So, not a great husband and also not a great father to their son who is 10 years old. Christine and Raoul decide to go over to America so that Christine can take this really great gig at an opera house in Manhattan. When she gets there, though, she is lured down to Coney Island, which is the bustling, seaside resort in Brooklyn in 1907, at the turn of the century when Coney Island was a playground for New Yorkers to go to. She’s lured down there by this mysterious guy who is paying her double what she was going to get paid to open at the opera house in Manhattan to sing just one song at his place in Coney Island. Of course, we come to find that this is the Phantom, luring Christine and Raoul to Coney Island. When they get there, they discover that Madame Giry from the original show is there running the sideshow for the Phantom, and her daughter, Meg Giry, who is in the ballet core in the original show is now the star singer and dancer at the Phantom’s place in Coney Island. Of course, mayhem ensues because the Phantom is obsessed with Christine, and well… That’s as much as I can say without giving too much away.”
What has been the most challenging part of stepping into this role?
“I would say it’s making a likable character out of someone who on paper is just not very likable. That’s my job, to bring to life this human being who has flaws just like every other human being. It’s not that he’s just a bad guy. Also, it’s how to pay homage to the original and show who this guy was that everyone knows from the original and everyone fell in love with in the original because he’s this knight in shining armor, and the hero of the story who saves Christine from the Phantom. So, how to retain that Raoul while also accepting the given circumstances of ‘Love Never Dies’ which is that he has become less of a knight in shining armor.”
What is your favorite part of being a part of the cast?
“This cast and this company in general, including the tech crew and the creative team and the stage management, are all amazing people to be completely honest. It’s an amazing group of people who are very passionate about their work and we all share that in common. Sometimes it can be just a job for people, but there is a very keen sense that this is a special moment and a special opportunity for everyone involved. It’s just been a real gift to work with people who have so much passion for a project.”
What do you feel makes this storyline so unique?
“For a musical, these are pretty well drawn out, deepened characters. A lot of times in musical theatre, they are a little more surface characters and a little more typical… What makes this unique is the considerable amount of human understanding that has gone into drafting characters as real people. You see more real life in them.”
What do you hope people take away after seeing this performance?
“I hope they feel really touched by the gorgeous and romantic music; it’s some of Andrew Webber’s most luscious music for sure. I hope they leave with a deeper understanding of these characters. In ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ they were sort of archetypal kind of characters. You had the hero, you had the damsel in distress, then you had the villain, and that’s all well and good, but what ‘Love Never Dies’ does is it deepens them as humans. No one is a villain and no one is a hero. Everyone is sort of in the middle, just like real life. No one in life is one or the other. I think it shows a deeper understanding of these characters as real people.”
For more information on showtimes and tickets, visit broward.centerfortlauderdale.com.