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The 'Phantom's' story continues in 'Love Never Dies'

| Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017, 9:00 p.m.
“The Coney Island Waltz” featuring Richard Koons (“Squelch”), Katrina Kemp (“Fleck”), Stephen Petrovich (“Gangle”) and the Ensemble of 'Love Never Dies.'
Joan Marcus
“The Coney Island Waltz” featuring Richard Koons (“Squelch”), Katrina Kemp (“Fleck”), Stephen Petrovich (“Gangle”) and the Ensemble of 'Love Never Dies.'
Jake Heston Miller (“Gustave”) and Meghan Picerno (“Christine Daaé”) star in 'Love Never Dies.'
Joan Marcus
Jake Heston Miller (“Gustave”) and Meghan Picerno (“Christine Daaé”) star in 'Love Never Dies.'

The mysterious masked “Phantom of the Opera,” last seen at the Paris Opera House before his disappearance in Andrew Lloyd Webber's megahit musical, resurfaces 10 years later among the colorful carnival sideshow characters of Coney Island, N.Y., in “Love Never Dies,” the show's sequel.

A national touring production of “Love Never Dies” will be performed at the Benedum Center as part of the 2017-2018 PNC Broadway in Pittsburgh series, presented by the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Broadway Across America.

Set in 1907, the story focuses once again on The Phantom and his unrequited love for musical protégée, Christine Daaé, who is now a famous opera singer. When she travels from Paris to New York to perform at a prestigious opera house, she and her husband Raoul and 10-year-old son Gustave are lured to Coney Island, where they find both adventure and intrigue.

Some interesting facts about the show:

• “Love Never Dies” had its world premiere on March 9, 2010, at the Adelphi Theatre in London's West End. This tour is the North American premiere of the show. It already has played to critical acclaim in Australia, Germany, Denmark and Japan.

• The touring cast, direct from the production of “Love Never Dies” in Hamburg, Germany, features Gardar Thor Cortes as the Phantom, Meghan Picerno as Christine, Sean Thompson as Raoul and Casey Lyons and Jake Heston Miller sharing the role of young Gustave.

• Two New York actors with ties to Pittsburgh are featured in the ensemble of this production. Ambridge native Diana DiMarzio earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in vocal performance at Carnegie Mellon University; Adam Soniak of Lehigh County graduated from Point Park University with a bachelor's degree in musical theater/ballet.

• One hour before the Jan. 3 performance, the Cultural Trust will offer its free Know the Show Before You Go event for ticket holders at 6:30 p.m. at the Trust Arts Education Center, 807 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh. Designed to educate audiences about its Broadway performances to enhance their theater experience, the event includes refreshments. Those planning to attend must register at trustarts.org.

• “Love Never Dies” is loosely based on Frederick Forsyth's 1999 novel, “The Phantom of Manhattan.”

• Kristen Blodgette, an associate musical supervisor for “Phantom of the Opera,” said audiences don't have to have seen “Phantom” first to enjoy “Love Never Dies,” although it's considered a sequel. “The story is very, very sweet and I like to think that the message – love is the final answer – is pertinent,” she said. “This show should appeal to a wide range of musical tastes.”

• Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber reportedly said he knew about five minutes into seeing the show's first run-through that he and the new production team had achieved something special. “I have the great joy of being able to say that I think this production is probably the finest one I could ever, ever hope for,” he said.

• Webber also has composed several other popular musicals, including “Cats,” “Evita,” Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Sunset Boulevard.” His latest musical, “School of Rock,” opened on Broadway in December 2015.

• The current touring production of “Love Never Dies” requires eight trailer trucks to carry all of the elaborate scenery, props and costumes featured in the show.

• The Phantom's alias Mr. Y is a play on the word Mystery, literally spelling it as Mister-y (“Mr. Y”), according to imdb.com. He is never referred to as ‘the Phantom' during the show, but rather his pseudonym Mr. Y, master, sir or you.

Candy Williams is Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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