LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on Thursday unveiled his latest musical "Love Never Dies," a sequel to hit show "The Phantom of the Opera" which has played to more than 100 million people around the world.
Love Never Dies continues the story of The Phantom, who has left his lair at the Paris Opera House and, 10 years later, is haunting the fairgrounds of New York's Coney Island.
Production notes handed out at a press launch described the new show, which has its world premiere at London's Adelphi Theater on March 9, 2010, as a "rollercoaster ride of obsession and intrigue in which music and memory can play cruel tricks."
The show then opens in New York on November 11 and in Australia in 2011.
"I thought about doing a Phantom sequel for a long time," Lloyd Webber told Reuters in an interview.
"I thought if I do a sequel it's just going to be nothing at all so I forgot about it. Then (British comedian) Ben Elton came up with an idea which unlocked how we can take all of the characters from the original and build a completely new tale.
"You don't have to see Phantom of the Opera to see Love Never Dies. I can stand back now and say I'm very proud of it as a piece of work."
The Oscar-winning 61-year-old, who wrote hit songs including "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from "Evita" and "Memory" from "Cats," said that his latest work did not return to the original Phantom score barring "a couple of tiny, musical moments.
"Everything is new so I think of it as a different piece, and if it does a third as well as the old Phantom I'll still be very happy."
Ramin Karimlooo will play the Phantom in the sequel, having performed in the original in London, and Sierra Boggess, who played the lead in Disney's Broadway musical "The Little Mermaid," will play Christine.
"The final scene of Phantom of the Opera is quite intense and you do want to know what happens, so it's nice to already have a built-in fan base that are ready to see what could possibly have happened," said Boggess.
An album to accompany the new musical will be released on March 10 next year, the day after the world premiere.
The Phantom of the Opera, which celebrates its 23rd London birthday this week, spawned an album which went on to sell more than 40 million copies globally.
The Phantom of the Opera is based on the French novel by Gaston Leroux. The show originally starred Sarah Brightman, Lloyd Webber's former wife, and Michael Crawford.
"One of the first people I played it (Love Never Dies) to, by the way, was Sarah Brightman," the composer said.
"She heard the recording practically before any one else did and it got her seal of approval anyway."
Writing by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato