Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Andrew Lloyd Webber Announces Sequel to Phantom of the Opera

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber has been busy working away at a sequel to his 1986 hit, The Phantom of the Opera. The sequel, entitled Love Never Dies, will premiere in London this fall and is slated for production in Toronto and Tokyo shortly thereafter.

Love Never Dies is set in Coney Island (of all places), and features an older Christine, her husband Raoul and son Gustav. Christine agrees to a "one night only" performance and everything goes terribly wrong...

I fell in love with Phantom of the Opera when I was fifteen. I heard the soundtrack to the musical at my friend Alisa's house and was entranced. After that I even managed to get my hands on the original book by Gaston Leroux, which I highly recommend, even though it's quite different from the musical. The book has a very recognizable Victorian Gothic quality to it, and reminds me a lot of Bram Stoker's Dracula (the writing style is very similar).

I'm looking forward to the new show, though I have my reservations about the Coney Island setting (which will probably be delightfully macabre). The music has already been recorded on a concept album, though no word yet on when the album will actually be available for sale. The word is that it might be released before the premiere, but I rather doubt it.

What do you guys think about a sequel to Phantom of the Opera? Would you be excited to see it? Are you worried that Andrew Lloyd Webber will damage the legacy of Phantom of the Opera with a sub-par sequel? Please weigh in.

You can read more about Webber's upcoming production on broadway.com.

Image courtesy Wikimedia.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Good Children's Book is Hard to Find

I love illustrated children's books. When I was a little girl, my mother had a tremendous collection of gorgeous illustrated books that she would read to me. Now that I'm older, I can't help but to acknowledge what a profound effect they must have had on me. Through those books, I gained a life-long appreciation for beautiful art and beautiful words.

I'm not sure if my mother was just exceptionally gifted at finding beautiful books (which of course she was), or if children's books were just a lot better then (which I think they probably were). Whatever the case may be, I just have a very hard time finding well-written, beautiful children's books.

Yesterday I spent over an hour at our local independent bookseller and could not find a single book that I thought was worth getting. It was majorly depressing. I went through every single shelf in their children's department and I couldn't find anything that really spoke to my soul. Some of the books were okay (who doesn't love "The Hungry Caterpillar"?), but they certainly didn't speak to my imagination. The illustrations were either banal or downright bad. I did find some books by Demi Hitz which were quite pretty, and I was a little bit tempted by them. But overall, nothing really stood out. Oh...I also found a copy of "Bread and Jam for Frances", by Russell and Lillian Hoban, which I also love. (By the way, do any of you remember the Caldecott medals they used to have for kids books? Do they still do that in the States? I have not seen any awards on kids books here in Canada, though I'm not surprised, as the choice here seems pretty dismal).

My husband picked me up afterwards and we had a long conversation about the whole experience in the car. I decided that for now I'll just collect used illustrated children's books, and if I want to get good books for very young children, I may just have to write them myself! I'm ready to run out and get some coloured pencils and have at it...

Does anyone else with young children ever feel like there are no books for children that are worth reading? I would love to know if any of you have found great new children's books recently!