Billed as a sequel to the immensely popular Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies picks up the action ten years after Eric, chased by an angry mob, fled from the Paris Opera House to exile in the sideshows of Coney Island. Unable to find gainful employment with his facial disfigurement, he’s been sheltered by the efforts of Meg Giry and her mother. Once he attains success in the operation of the sideshow, Eric plots to lure the now-married Christine to New York with a bogus offer from Oscar Hammerstein to sing at the new Manhattan Opera House.
Christine, her husband Raoul, and son Gustav are met at the pier by a small troupe of circus performers, including a dainty, ballerina-costumed little person named Fleck. Raoul loses his temper at being greeted by “freaks” instead of Hammerstein, and almost refuses to get into the motor carriage with them.
Eric surprises Christine in her dressing room, and finds that though Christine is still drawn to him and her marriage is failing, she still harbors anger at him for abandoning her years ago. When Eric hears of her son Gustav’s love of music, he realizes she must have conceived during their one might together.
Enraptured by the thought of a younger, physically perfect version of himself, Eric leads Gustave through the Coney Island sideshow in hopes of showing him the beauty of the freaks in mirrored cages. Gustave rejects him because of his facial disfigurement, literally running away screaming. Crushed, Eric nevertheless vows to see that Gustav will want for nothing and inherit all he owns, and makes Christine promise never to reveal his identity to Gustave.
Fleck is played by short-statured actress Emma J. Hawkins, who has also danced and stilt-walked her way through circus, theater, television, movies, and burlesque. (Her credits include Bogan Pride, Pizza (SBS), Star Wars and Wolverine.) Emma also runs her own company Atypical Theatre Company, embracing fair representation of disability in the Arts.