With all of its circuses, sideshows, freak shows, geek shows, and pickled punk wagons, Coney Island during the early 20th century would make an intriguing setting for any faintly gothic romance laced with tragedy. It's really the only place where a sequel to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's enormously popular and spectacle-laden musical The Phantom of the Opera makes sense. Although critics panned the original West End production, which closed before transferring to Broadway, a retooled version of Love Never Dies found its audience and is now touring the states.
"When Andrew Lloyd Webber came to Detroit for the launch of show, I got a feeling this was a show he was very proud of," says Karen Mason, who plays the pivotal role of Madame Giry.
- Love Never Dies
"It's interesting in this age of '#MeToo,' that the show really does resonate with some people," she says, describing the Phantom's obsessive relationship with Christine as "a different kind of love story."
Mason's character Giry rescues the notorious and volatile Phantom from life as a circus freak then helps him escape at the end of Webber's original musical. In Love Never Dies she enables him to set up his own show in a place where misfits fit right in.
Citing Gypsy's Mama Rose as a favorite role, Mason says she's attracted to characters who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the things they want. In a similar, if more delusional vein, Mason was a standby for Glenn Close in her signature role as Norma Desmond in ALW's Sunset Boulevard.
"But who's to say every time you go toward a goal it's not some form of delusion?" she says. That's so Phantom.