By Leah Wright | Photos Courtesy Joan Marcus
Nashville is lucky to have Bronson Norris Murphy appear as The Phantom in the current touring production of “Love Never Dies”. The Bowling Green KY native made his mark on Broadway in the long-running production of “Phantom of the Opera” after first seeing it on the TPAC stage in 2002. He has appeared in numerous local productions and earned a degree in music education from Western Kentucky University.
“Love Never Dies” picks up ten years after the disaster in the opera house. Murphy is perfectly accompanied by Meghan Picerno, who appears as Christine Daaé and belts out her songs with precision and power. Daaé has continued her advancing career as an operatic songbird and receives an invitation to perform in New York City. Daaé, Raoul (Sean Thompson), and their son, Gustave (Jake Heston Miller), travel there from Paris and when the family’s travels are intercepted, they unknowingly end up back in the lair of The Phantom, which is at this point Mister V’s Phantasma at Coney Island. The Phantom, who has been in hiding for ten years with the help of Madame Giry (Karen Mason) and Meg Giry (Mary Michael Patterson) has created an attraction filled with performers who are the very definition of the strange and the macabre, with the exception of Ms. Giry, who is the attractive “normal” star of the show.
The score for the show is built upon the sounds of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera”, but the arrangements and lyrics have been changed to fit this newer production. The show is beautifully dark and punctuated by steampunk accents that are quickly moved and changed with the help of a rotating stage. Certain elements of the set, such as the stagecoach, are stunningly beautiful and intricate in a very industrial way. I personally found myself gasping as certain portions of the set were revealed and laughing at antics of The Phantom’s henchmen, Fleck (Katrina Kemp), Gangle (Stephen Petrovich), and Squelch (Richard Koons).
The story was murky and twisted in all of the best ways, but it was perfectly punctuated by the innocence of Gustave and his angelic voice. Miller, in his role as Gustave, carried himself very well and had a surprisingly good voice for a performer of his age.
The storyline of the show is divisive, but I felt that it perfectly complimented and was a natural progression to the original show. Even the ending, as shocking as it was, fit with the storyline. Overall, I loved it and would highly recommend that fellow “Phantom of the Opera” fans give it a chance, but please, go into the show with an open mind.
“Love Never Dies” is appearing at TPAC through June 24. Regular tickets are available at tpac.org, by phone at 615.782.4040 or at the TPAC box office. A limited number of $25 RUSH tickets are available 90 minutes prior to each show, or $35 tickets can be purchased online through June 22 at 10:00am using code FREAKSHOW, while supplies last.