The Menaced Phantom

Sci-Fi fans are notorious for reacting poorly to news of a sequel or remake of some highly cherished film or TV show, secure in the knowledge that the mere existence of such thing totally and completely invalidates / ruins the original. I have some pride in the fact that I don’t subscribe to this theory. Heretical though it may be to the orthodoxy, if someone wants to create a sequel to something or a completely new version of it, I’ll wait to actually see it before deciding whether it’s good or bad. Also, I like both Star Trek and Star Wars.

So is this neurosis confined to the dark basements of sci-fi geekdom? No, apparently not. Last week Andrew Lloyd Weber announced opening dates for the sequel he’s created to The Phantom of the Opera. Howls of protest escaped the Internet soon after.

Though the news of the sequel “went wide” last week, its existence hasn’t exactly been under wraps. Currently the longest running show in Broadway history, “The Phantom” is the subject of an adoring fan base. I’ve never seen it myself, though I’ve probably heard the “big” song. Something about “night” and “music”, I think. The plot is about a disfigured homicidal stalker and the woman he stalks, er… “loves”. All the murder is done in a highly romantic fashion, though, thus it has a great deal of appeal to the theatre-going masses and makes it “okay.”

Making a sequel to this, one of the most successful in musical history, is not going over well amongst many of the Phantom’s biggest fans. Despite the fact that the sequel is being scored by the same guy responsible for the thing they hold so dear (Webber), it matters not. Ask George Lucas about that sometime. The sequel, Love Never Dies, is loosely based on a 1999 novel by Frederick Forsyth, The Phantom in Manhattan, itself a sequel to the original novel upon which the musical version was based. The Phantom has set up shop in Coney Island as a freakshow attraction/entrepreneur, and lures his preferred stalkee to the Island with the offer of a steady singing gig at his theatre.

Despite Broadway’s fascination with Hollywood, the one thing they have yet to master is the art of the successful sequel. Did you know there was a sequel to Annie? Yeah, you and no one else, since it bombed in 1989. Remains to be seen if Phantom 2 will suffer the same fate. If it does, there will be a heaping helping of schadenfreude in the halls and message boards of the Phantom purists.

It’s early, since the opening isn’t until March 2010 in London’s West End, but we have a Love Never Dies tickets page up, where you can sign up for updates on ticket availability.

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