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Lloyd Webber shrugs off musical's critics

By Phil Han, CNN
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Connector: Andrew Lloyd Webber
  • "Love Never Dies" is highly anticipated sequel to "The Phantom of the Opera"
  • Online forums have ridiculed new production calling it a "mess" and "stupid"
  • Andrew Lloyd Webber says new musical should not be compared to 'Phantom'
  • "The Phantom of the Opera" has grossed nearly $4 billion since its opening

London, England (CNN) -- Andrew Lloyd Webber has defended his new musical from criticism on online forums even before its official opening on Tuesday night.

The musical was described on one review site as "stupid" and "appalling" while many postings said it did not live up to expectations of Lloyd Webber's massive stage hit "Phantom of the Opera."

One reviewer "Horton" wrote on Whatsonstage that the show was a "hot mess" and "silly, shallow and superficial -- Lloyd Webber trademarks these days." The discussion thread had been viewed more than 100,000 times by Tuesday.

But the British composer hit back, saying the new work should not be compared to his previous works.

"I don't think that if you go to it you will say 'oh gosh I need to see the old one.' I think it stands completely alone as a musical."

"What I think is that 'Love Never Dies' is a completely standalone musical that just happens to have the same four characters as the 'Phantom.'

"I don't think we can ever better the old 'Phantom' in its own way," Lloyd Webber told CNN's Becky Anderson.

Previews of Lloyd Webber's new musical began in late February and audiences have generally given the production negative reviews.

"Love Never Dies" is the long awaited sequel to the "Phantom" and Lloyd Webber said the work was years in the making.

The "Phantom of the Opera" has earned nearly $4 billion since its opening in 1986 and is still running in London's West End theater district.

"It's been in my head to do the story of the Phantom and Christine for a long long time, but I couldn't find a story in my head that would work," Lloyd Webber said.

"It's been in gestation for years, but I didn't find I could do it until about three years ago."

Lloyd Webber said he was excited for the official opening of the production and believed the future of the musical was already set. "The fate is cast already, but I don't know what it is."