The chief theater critic for the NYT is having a grand old time tearing up Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to Phantom of the Opera. (The words "sequel to Phantom of the Opera" are their own atrocity.)

The first paragraph:

To think that all this time that poor old half-faced composer hasn’t been dead at all, just stewing in his lust for greater glory. Being the title character of “The Phantom of the Opera,” the most successful musical of all time, wasn’t enough for him. Oh, no. Like so many aging stars, he was determined to return — with different material and a rejuvenated body — to the scene of his first triumph. So now he’s back in the West End with a big, gaudy new show. And he might as well have a “kick me” sign pasted to his backside.


this poor sap of a show feels as eager to be walloped as a clown in a carnival dunking booth.


it’s probably not a good idea to have your hero, in his first solo, sing “the moments creep, but I can’t bear to sleep” to a melody that moves like a sloth in quicksand.


Relax, I’m not going to tell you who dies (while gasping out a reprise of the title song). Why bother, when from beginning to end, “Love Never Dies” is its very own spoiler.

The show sounds awful and rightfully bashed. But reading it, I couldn't help thinking that this kind of review (smart, condescending, gleefully vicious) is going extinct as papers continue to cut staff critics who (used to) have the job security to be righteous pricks. Freelancers, for sound economic reasons, tend to be more timid when taking on giants like Lloyd Webber.

So laugh while you can, Mr. Brantley. It's later than you think!