In the Andrew Lloyd Webber sequel to the beloved long-running musical, “Phantom of the Opera,” the story picks up 10 years after the Phantom’s disappearance from the Paris Opera House and finds him living amid the other freaks of Coney Island during its heyday in the early 1900s.
The final show for the 2017/18 Broadway at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts series, the opulent production of “Love Never Dies” runs July 17 to 22. Cast member Stephen Petrovich plays Dr. Gangle, one of the colorful Coney Island characters, and answered a few questions about the show.
How would you describe “Love Never Dies,” especially to the many passionate fans of “Phantom of the Opera?”
“Love Never Dies” is a continuation of the “Phantom” story that we know and love. It is also a fully realized musical in its own right and explores the relationships of its characters under circumstances that are vastly different than the original “Phantom.” It is also a grand spectacle of visual and orchestral proportions.
Does it succeed as a stand-alone musical, or should it be considered a sequel to “Phantom?”
I believe it can exist as both: it is an obvious continuation of “Phantom,” however you do not need any prior knowledge to enjoy “Love Never Dies.”
Please tell me about your character, a freak show performer – who is he, what’s his story and what is it like to play him?
I play Doctor Gangle, the Master of Ceremonies in the burlesque revue headlined by Meg Giry on Coney Island. He’s a consummate showman out in front of the footlights, but is also lurking in the background of a lot of the action backstage. The world we’ve created – a seedy, grotesque, garish, brilliant circus on Coney Island – is such a delightful world to exist in as an actor.
Was he a challenge to bring to life on stage?
The stunts we perform onstage each night – Richard Koons, Katrina Kemp, and myself – took weeks of rehearsal to get down. Lots of lifts and tosses and sharp gestures choreographed to our lines. It’s extremely specific stuff and requires constant maintenance as a trio of actors in order to make sure we sync up every night.
What to you is the best moment in this musical, or the moment audience members are likely to remember?
This production really packs a lot of punch with its production values. The sets are breathtaking, and the stage pictures are ever morphing. Paired with the sweeping Lloyd Webber score, the overall experience of “Love Never Dies” is an opulent thrill ride for audiences.
Cover photo: “The Coney Island Waltz” featuring Richard Koons (“Squelch”), Katrina Kemp (“Fleck”), Stephen Petrovich (“Gangle”) and the Ensemble of “Love Never Dies.” Photo Joan Marcus