“Love Never Dies” versus “Love Should Die” – What exactly is Andrew Lloyd Webber complaining about?

So, Mark Shenton, in his blog in The Stage, has reignited the discussion around ‘Love Never Dies’, and in particular the ‘Love Should Die’ campaign.  We are very grateful to Mark for making us aware of this campaigning website, which raised all sorts of questions for us about free speech and fair play in the theatre industry.

Andrew Lloyd Webber seems to have a massive sense of entitlement when it comes to his work.  The latest TV casting show ‘Over the Rainbow’ nearly didn’t happen because Andrew Lloyd Webber didn’t want to refrain from mentioning ‘Love Never Dies’ on the show – he simply couldn’t see why he should.

Nobody can blame him for taking criticism personally, but what is noticeable here is that he doesn’t seem hurt by it, just irritated.  We have already commented on Lloyd Webber’s propensity for these kinds of comments in our post about drama schools, but here is it again in the Times.  His annoyance that ordinary people might have a voice without being ‘qualified’ is palpable – pretty rich for a composer who has been dabbling in TV judging, casting, production, and theatre ownership without any apparent qualifications for the job.  He states that “What we really have to consider is all this stuff on the net….It’s a very worrying situation for anybody now who’s opening any kind of play or musical.”  Well, we are not aware of any other producer being on the receiving end of a campaign on this scale.

It seems to us that for the most part the “Love Should Die” website is only doing what Lloyd Webber does – the difference is that ordinary people are not expected to answer back.  We are told that the ‘Love Should Die’ website grew up out of irritation at the constant mantra from Lloyd Webber that the ‘phans’ were dying to see a sequel.  Presumably he had no evidence to support that – hence the development of a facebook group to counter that view. 

The ‘Love Should Die’ website has collected together all the negative reviews of the production.  The ‘Love Never Dies’ website has all the positive ones.  All three of them.  And interestingly, the ‘Mail on Sunday’ review, which is quoted on posters, is not present.  Andrew Lloyd Webber is very lucky that ‘The Independent’ gave the production five stars, because this review does not read to us like a description of a five star production.  To return to our favourite topic of critics quotes, we found this comment from Ian Shuttleworth on another Mark Shenton post mentioning selective quotation of critics in publicity material.   He says,

“I’ve recently received an inquiry from parties related to the production asking whether the words in my FT review “a score that is determinedly, persistently soaring and majestic” can be changed in advertising to “a majestic and soaring score” or “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s majestic and soaring score”. It’s a discreet change compared to some, of course, but it does seem to me to shift the tone of the words fundamentally… Especially given that the entire sentence of my original review read “As for the meat of the show, I cannot recall ever finding such a yawning chasm between a score which is so determinedly, persistently soaring and majestic (although a number of arrangements sound cheaply over-synthesised beyond the necessities of fairground pastiche) and lyrics that seldom even rise to banality.”

The ‘Love Should Die’ website exhorts its visitors to post any negative comments and experiences on the messageboard.  ‘Love Never Dies’, in a personal message from Andrew, does the same.  [update 2.9.11 – this link is now broken – the UK site now redirects to the Australian production’s website] ‘Love Never Dies’ has merchandise and a natty little games section where you can pretend you’re in Coney Island.  ‘Love Should Die’ has merchandise, the ‘free rice’ game, and a series of mock letters from the Phantom explaining to Lloyd Webber why he should cease the project at once.

Has the ‘Love Should Die’ campaign really affected this show?  Or is it just a repository for the reasons why the show is a critical failure?  The website and the discussion of it will have given the show some free publicity, and even if some theatregoers make an alternative choice, Lloyd Webber may well still benefit, if that choice is a show in one of his other theatres.  Lloyd Webber can’t seem to decide whether to complain about the effect, or to keep insisting that it’s had no effect and that the show is a success.  He talks of journalists being ‘duped’ – into what?  No journalist is going to criticise a show just because someone tells them to, and many reviews mention having received emails from ‘Love Should Die’ before giving their own opinion. 

As for us, we haven’t seen the show.  Without the assistance of ‘Love Should Die’ we came to the conclusion that we wouldn’t go, for the following reasons:

1) The title song is lifted, note for note, from another Lloyd Webber song, ‘Our Kind of Love’ from ‘The Beautiful Game’.  Here is Hannah Waddingham singing the ‘original’.  We say original, but we subsequently found out that there is another version before that, ‘The Heart is Slow to Learn’.  What a cheek!  Perhaps Lloyd Webber assumed we wouldn’t mind as ‘The Beautiful Game’ was a commercial flop.

2) The plot is preposterous and tawdry.  The film of the original paved the way for the new ‘sexy’ phantom by casting ‘non singer’ Gerard Butler and going on about his sexy ‘rock and roll’ voice and how good he looked on screen.  The deformity was also massively downplayed in the film.  And we notice that in Ramin Karimloo’s promo video, there is no deformity at all! 

Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking?

Update 15.4.12:  Earlier this year Rebecca Saffir wrote a review of the Sydney production of ‘Love Never Dies’ for Time Out.  It was not exacly complimentary about the material, although it did praise the production.  Then she tweeted a link to the review.  We were rather perplexed at the time to find that on clicking the link a few days later, the page had been strangely ‘updated’ with a rather sycophantic interview with Lloyd Webber.  Removing old reviews is not the normal practice at www.timeout.com.  Surely, we thought, there wasn’t some kind of censorship going on here?  Then we put it out of our minds.  Well, according to Rebecca, Really Useful Group were behind the removal of her review, and she tells her side of the story here.

Until she posted it on her blog recently, there was only one place you could find it – yes, the Love Should Die website.  No wonder Lloyd Webber hates them so much.

This entry was posted in Franchise musicals, Lucky dip!, TV Casting Shows and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to “Love Never Dies” versus “Love Should Die” – What exactly is Andrew Lloyd Webber complaining about?

  1. Ben says:

    Couldn’t agree more. The plot is the show’s biggest issue and it has not been addressed. I went to see Love Never Dies and couldn’t believe how disparate it was with the original, which didn’t need a sequel anyway. Love Should Die has hit the nail on the head and it’s good to see audiences speaking out against bad-quality work. They deserve better.


  2. josefine says:

    Incredibly good post about the psychology behind andrew lloyd webber’s irritation at love should die. I couldn’t agree more.


  3. Louise says:

    Bravo, Bravo !!!

    At last, someone that explains the “Love Should Die” group in an honest light !
    if Love Never Dies was so great, then Mr Webber wouldn’t be worried about a little
    group of people and blaming them !
    Can you imagine if a similar group had said the same about Phantom, they’d still be singing their song some 20 years later, groups don’t close a show, a SHOW closes a show when it’s as pathetic as this one.

    I visit this group, have from the beginning, and I can honestly say, no where have I seen any writings on how to close the show down. The fans want to tell their side of the story instead of Mr Webber doing it for them, the main message of the group is that not anyone in that group, and a lot of other fans were waiting for this sequel, as Mr Webber likes to tell the world.
    The other message is, they do NOT like the show, simple really they just don’t like it, it’s not that hard to fathom, and when this is stated, they are the worst in thing in the world according to Andy, it’s just a place to discuss their thoughts, and talk about the original, and to speak out when something is written that just isn’t true !
    I could go on, but basically your two points cover most of what I think, the plot is deplorable, the characters are pathetic, not the people we loved from the original, and don’t even get me started on the music !



  4. LNDFAn says:

    Well, I LOVE the show. And can a show be judged without even having seen it? And, the main goal of LSD is to close the show. Period.


  5. Lidia says:

    Love Never Dies is a great musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber is a genius, has created a beautiful score. I do not understand LSD campaign against this music. I think it’s a great second part of the musical The Phantom of the Opera. Love Never Dies is very successful in Australia. There are many fans of Love never dies the world are saying the same thing as me, it’s time for fans of Love never dies support for this musical!


  6. Louise says:

    “And can a show be judged without even having seen it?”

    Yes it can actually, if you know the full story, heard most of the Libretto, listened to all the music, seen film clips, then YES, why not ? I think that’s plenty to base an opinion on.

    Funny how the above statement doesn’t work both ways, if you haven’t seen it, you couldn’t possibly say that you don’t like it, but if you haven’t seen it, and loveeeeee the show, that’s just dandy, you can rant all you want apparently about something you’ve never seen, yes, funny that.


  7. LND_Fan_Perth says:

    I think what is annoying to the majority of us who fully support Andrew Lloyd Webber and LND is that we can’t see that Love Should Die actually has a purpose. Don’t normal, sane people who don’t like something just agree that they don’t like it, either see it and then shut up or don’t see it at all, and then get on with life? Why bother with a ridiculous campaign? What are they after, validation? For ALW to tell them “Gosh, you’re right, I shouldn’t have written it” ? Can’t they just fade away quietly and leave the rest of us Phans enjoy it? If they’re really that put-out over something as small as ALW saying that fans “can’t wait” for a sequel, they badly need to get a life.


  8. Jade says:

    Amen LND_Fan — [Moderated due to being offensive and personal] Love Never Dies is an awesome show [Moderated due to being both nonsensical and offensive]


  9. Jade says:

    lol offensive and nonsensical describes this blog perfectly – and JUST like Love Should Die you are censoring posts with a perfectly sound point of view. There was nothing personal or offensive about my post……… so lets just say as LND_Fan_WA said so eloquently “normal, sane people who don’t like something just agree that they don’t like it, either see it and then shut up or don’t see it at all, and then get on with life”?


  10. Ben says:

    Actually, yes, I can judge a show that has a full cast-recording out, because the essential material (music, lyrics, book) is all there. What I can’t judge is the production, and I don’t see anyone actually doing that. Lloyd Webber released Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita as concept albums first so people could make up their minds first whether to see it based on that. I did the same with Love Never Dies, a practice Lloyd Webber himself instigated and encouraged. Bizarre to suddenly say you can’t do that.


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