Andrew Lloyd Webber first began plans for a sequel to his 1986 hit musical, The Phantom of the Opera, in 1990. Following a conversation with Maria Björnson, the designer of The Phantom of the Opera, Lloyd Webber decided that, were a sequel to come about, it would be set in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. One of his ideas was to have Phantom live above ground in Manhattan's first penthouse, but he rejected this when he saw a TV documentary about the Coney Island fairground. Lloyd Webber began collaborating with author Frederick Forsyth on the project, but it soon fell apart as Lloyd Webber felt the ideas they were developing would be difficult to adapt for a stage musical. Forsyth went on to publish some of the ideas he had worked on with Lloyd Webber in 1999 as a novel entitled The Phantom of Manhattan.
Lloyd Webber returned to the project in 2006, collaborating with a number of writers and directors. However, he still did not feel the ideas he had were adaptable into a piece of musical theatre. Finally, in early 2007, Lloyd Webber approached Ben Elton (who had served as the librettist for Lloyd Webber's The Beautiful Game) to help shape a synopsis for a sequel, based on Lloyd Webber's initial ideas. Elton's treatment of the story focused more on the original characters of The Phantom of the Opera and omitted new characters that Lloyd Webber and Forsyth had developed. Lloyd Webber was pleased with Elton's treatment and began work on the sequel. In March 2007, he announced he would be moving forward with the project.
The Daily Mail announced in May 2007 that the sequel would be delayed, because Lloyd Webber's six-month-old kitten Otto, a rare-breed Turkish Van, climbed onto Lloyd Webber's Clavinova digital piano and managed to delete the entire score. Lloyd Webber was unable to recover any of it from the instrument, but was eventually able to reconstruct the score. In 2008, Lloyd Webber first announced that the sequel would likely be called Phantom: Once Upon Another Time, and the first act was performed at Lloyd Webber's annual Sydmonton Festival. The Phantom was played by Ramin Karimloo and Raoul was played by Alistair Robbins. However, in September 2008, during the BBC's Birthday in the Park concert celebrating his 60th birthday, Lloyd Webber announced that the title would be Love Never Dies. In other workshop readings, Raoul and Christine were played by Aaron Lazar and Elena Shaddow.
On 3 July 2009, Lloyd Webber announced that Karimloo (who had played the Phantom in the West End) and Sierra Boggess (who had originated the role of Christine in Phantom – The Las Vegas Spectacular) had been cast as the Phantom and Christine and that the role of Meg Giry would be played by Summer Strallen, Madame Giry by Liz Robertson and Raoul by Joseph Millson. I'd Do Anything finalist Niamh Perry was given the role of Fleck.
Lloyd Webber originally intended for Love Never Dies to open in London, New York and Shanghai simultaneously in the autumn of 2009. By March 2009, he had decided to open the show at London's Adelphi Theatre, followed by Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre (before transferring to Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre in 2010) and Shanghai. The three casts would rehearse simultaneously in London for three months beginning August 2009. Opening dates were soon announced as 26 October 2009 in London, November in Toronto and February 2010 in Shanghai, with a later transfer to Melbourne, Australia. Plans were then announced for a separate Broadway production to run concurrently with the Toronto show if Toronto proved successful. In May, the debut of the London production was delayed until March 2010 due to Lloyd Webber re-orchestrating the score and re-recording the album. Technical issues with the special effects, automaton version of Christine and casting multiple simultaneous productions also contributed to the postponement. By October 2009, Shanghai plans had been dropped in favour of an Australian production.
On 8 October 2009, Lloyd Webber held a press conference at Her Majesty's Theatre, where the original Phantom has been running since 1986, confirming the casting of Boggess as Christine and Karimloo as the Phantom. Karimloo sang "Til I Hear You Sing", and "The Coney Island Waltz" was also performed for the journalists, industry insiders and fans who had assembled for the presentation. Lloyd Webber announced that Love Never Dies would begin previews in London on 20 February 2010 and anticipated that the Broadway production would open on 11 November 2010 (this was later postponed and then indefinitely). Rehearsals began in January 2010.
West End (2010–2011)
The first preview of Love Never Dies was delayed from 20 February to 22 February 2010 due to a last-minute brief illness of Boggess and technical demands. The show had its official opening on 9 March 2010. It was directed by Jack O'Brien, choreographed by Jerry Mitchell, and had set and costume designs by Bob Crowley. The cast included Ramin Karimloo as the Phantom, Sierra Boggess as Christine, Joseph Millson as Raoul, Liz Robertson as Madame Giry, Summer Strallen as Meg Giry and Niamh Perry as Fleck. In April 2010, Lloyd Webber was threatened with a £20,000 fine for illegally painting the Grade II-listed Adelphi Theatre black to promote this musical.
In December 2010, Lloyd Webber closed the London production for a few days to rework the show after a poor critical response. The musical was reviewed again (at Lloyd Webber's invitation), with critic Henry Hitchings noting that "Some of the most obvious alterations stem from the recruitment of lyricist Charles Hart to adjust the cadences of the original clunky lines written by Glenn Slater." He further pointed out that "There are also lots of bracing directorial touches; the show is credited to Jack O’Brien, but it is new choreographer Bill Deamer and producer Bill Kenwright who have added the zest." The London production closed on 27 August 2011 after a disappointing run of fewer than eighteen months. In 2012, Lloyd Webber stated that although he was, "very, very proud" of the London production, it did not completely work and also said, "something just went slightly wrong; I had cancer just before the production, and it was just that crucial 5% off-beam".
The hoped-for Broadway production was announced as delayed to spring 2011. Lloyd Webber also announced that Asian and Canadian productions were planned, although these have been dropped for now. After the mixed reviews and negative reaction from some Phantom fans during previews, an executive producer stated that before its bow on Broadway, the show would likely undergo "some changes". On October 1, 2010 it was announced that the musical would not open on Broadway in Spring 2011.
In 2010, Lloyd-Webber announced that the Australian production would open on May 21, 2011 at Melbourne's Regent Theatre. This production, the first outside of the UK, featured brand new direction and design by an Australian creative team, including director Simon Phillips. Ben Lewis and Anna O'Byrne were cast as the leads, Although Lloyd Webber hopes to bring the Melbourne production to Broadway in the future, he told The New York Times that, even with the positive reception of the reworked Melbourne production, a Broadway transfer was probably not realistic. He also announced that the Melbourne production would be filmed on September 15, 2011 and made available on DVD. The recording was originally to be released on DVD and Blu-ray February 1, 2012, but it was later delayed till May 29, 2012 in the United States. In the UK, the DVD was released on March 12, 2012, and in Australia it was released on February 8, 2012. The recorded performance also played in select theaters on February 28 and March 7, 2012. It was then screened again in U.S. cinemas on May 23, 2012. Lloyd Webber stated that even if a Broadway production does not happen, he feels that he has closed the chapter on the piece, as the filmed version is something that he's, "very, very proud of" and it does not really matter to him, "if it comes tomorrow or five years' time". The Melbourne production closed on December 18, 2011.
The Melbourne production transferred to Sydney's Capitol Theatre with previews beginning January 8, 2012 and officially opened on January 12, 2012. The show concluded its limited engagement on April 1, 2012.
Det Ny Teater in Copenhagen, Denmark announced that their production of Love Never Dies will open on October 24, 2012. Starring danish coloratura soprano Louise Fribo as Christine.