This week (March 13-18, 2018) Broadway San Jose is presenting Love Never Dies - Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to Phantom of the Opera! The story picks up ten years after the Phantom of the Opera ends.
The Phantom has since moved to Coney Island where he's opened a new theater called "Phantasma" and Christine Daae has recently received an invitation from Oscar Hammerstein to sing in Manhattan. When the Phantom hears about her visit, he immediately sends an anonymous message persuading her to sing on his stage.
The drama begins when the Phantom appears in her hotel room on the night she arrives in New York City. Get ready to kick back and enjoy Andrew Lloyd Webber's Coney Island roller coaster ride filled with love, passion, music and excitement!
Recently I had the opportunity to sit down for dinner with Meghan Picerno (AKA: Christine Daae) at Alexander's Steakhouse in Cupertino to get the inside scoop about the show, her role and the tour that is sweeping the nation. Scroll down to find out her costume secrets, tour stories and favorite highlights while getting a peek at our magnificent meal!
What's better than talking "Phantom" over a tasty meal to compliment the flavors of a rich and exhilarating love story? We took a seat at Alexander's Steakhouse where they served us a variety of appetizers infused with a Japanese flare paired with delicious wines and bubbles. This family-owned restaurant is only a fifteen-minute drive from Broadway San Jose's theater and the service is next to none! Just wait until you see what we had for dinner while we talked about Meghan's impressive career.
Meghan's musical journey to the stage of Love Never Dies began with her passion and love for opera! She studied vocal performance in Illinois Wesleyan University and received her masters from Manhattan School of Music. Since then she has performed in a mix of operas, concerts and theaters that perfectly shaped her voice for the role of Christine Daae. You can read more about her career here!
"I have always admired Christine Daae's character and the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber," said Meghan. "For me, what's special about playing Christine in his sequel is the opportunity to really make this character my own because this is the first time Love Never Dies has been performed in the United States." The show premiered in 2010 in London and after a re-write and new design work, it then opened in Austrailia where it was filmed and distributed to movie theaters across the U.S with a DVD release. This is how I personally saw it for the first time and was overtaken by the storyline and passionate music.
Since the U.S. tour began in October, they have performed over 160 shows in the course of 5 months! "This my first time going on a tour at such scale and I have loved every minute of it!" said Meghan. "The cast has become like a family to me and I am so lucky to be a part of such a talented and hard-working group." During our last bites of our appetizers, Meghan told me how the cast even helped her prepare for a performance with the San Francisco Symphony between shows. "I truly love each and every one of them!" said Meghan.
It takes over 11 semi-trucks to move the production from city to city and over 71 local stagehands are hired at each theater to unload and load the set to create a magical Coney Island extravaganza. "One of my favorite things about being on tour is discovering the local gems and experiences in each city, " said Meghan. "It helps me connect with the audience and learn more about their culture."
Alexander's Steakhouse is one of those special gems that can be experienced in Cupertino, San Francisco, Pasadena among many others in the Bay Area. They even have their own wine label that was made specifically to bring out the unique flavors in their steak and seafood. A perfect treat before heading to a performance!
Phantom of the Opera is loved and celebrated by millions all over the world because of Andrew Lloyd Webber's breathtaking music and iconic characters. In my opinion, Love Never Dies takes it to a whole new level with heightened emotions and passionate moments because of the rekindled flame between the Phantom and Christine. From minor phrases to luscious arais, there are pivotal moments that happen within the melodies that will are guaranteed to stay with you. "Besides the title song, 'Love Never Dies', that I love to sing, I think one of my other personal favorites is the eerie yet captivating solo sung by Gustav (Christine's son) called 'Beautiful'," said Meghan. I would definitely have to agree!
Another element that makes Love Never Dies significant is the magnificent costumes! Throughout the performance, you will see over 165 different ensembles made up of dresses, suits, capes, hats, bathing suits and more. Imagine the backstage costume changes that take place! In fact, the fastest costume change is done by Meghan in under 18 seconds. "As soon as the stagecoach door closes during my arrival scene, I am changing inside and then I step out from the back to assemble the rest of my costume before my next solo," said Meghan. "I could NOT do it without the incredible team that assists me backstage."
The peacock dress that Meghan wears during her 'Love Never Dies' monumental solo weighs over 35 pounds and took over 200 hundred hours to make. "It's so heavy that they sewed in handles on each side so that I can lift it when run!" said Megan. "But I never get tired of wearing it. It's absolutely stunning!".
Meghan and I finished our delicious dinner with an array of desserts including fresh berries, chocolates, custards and even key lime cotton candy. Did you know Alexander Steakhouse even has their own Patisserie! I bet they wish they had that at Coney Island! Meghan and the Love Never Dies cast will be in San Jose for 8 performances and then they are off for their next city. Click here to see where they are head next! This show is great for all ages and is a MUST if you are a Phantom of the Opera fan like me.
What's extra special about this show is that Love Never Dies is making their American debut on tour vs. on Broadway. So we (people that don't live in NYC) get the opportunity to see it first! Of course, the hope is to open on Broadway. "It's so exciting to see all the enthusiasm around this sequel story and the production itself across the U.S.," said Meghan.
Did I mention that within the beauty of it all, there's a HUGE twist that happens in the story?! You just won't believe it... I was shocked in the best way! Click HERE to get your tickets to see it for yourself.
Make sure to also check out Alexander Steakhouse at their various locations for the ultimate dining experience! Meghan and I absolutely loved our meal and highly recommend the foie gras, hamachi shots and steak!
If you've seen Love Never Dies, comment below to tell us your favorite song, scene or line!
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Photography by Trisha Leeper, Meal provided by Alexander Steakhouse, Cupertino