Andrew Lloyd Webber has confirmed a sequel to hit musical The Phantom Of The Opera and expressed hope of an unprecedented opening night across three continents.

Phantom, which first opened 22 years ago with Michael Crawford in the lead alongside Sarah Brightman, has made more than £3.5 billion after being watched by more than 80 million theatregoers across the world.

And Lloyd Webber believes this global audience makes a three-pronged opening night for the sequel – Phantom: Love Never Dies – possible.

After confirming that "the button is pushed" on the production the 60-year-old revealed: "I don't think you could do this if it wasn't the sequel to Phantom.

"We have been into the feasibility of rehearsing three companies at once and opening in the three territories."

As well as the West End and Broadway, Lloyd Webber hinted that a Chinese production, possibly in Shanghai, was interesting him the most.

Although he is "pretty clear" who at least one of the actors to be cast as the phantom will be – with Hugh Jackman and Gerard Butler both named in connection with the part – he is remaining tight-lipped.

Phantom: Love Never Dies takes place ten years after Gaston Leroux's novel and is relocated from Paris to Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.

The three productions are pencilled to begin at the end of 2009.

29/12/2008 11:01:59