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Need to know ~ People

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Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Photo: Tracey Nolan,  CC BY-SA 2.0


Nicole Scherzinger performs one of Lloyd Webber’s most famous songs, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina,” from the musical Evita.

Why current?


In October 2021, the curtains went up once again on the longest running musical in Broadway history.  The Phantom of the Opera had been playing at The Majestic Theater in New York City, since 1988.  During the pandemic, all theaters in New York were forced to close their doors, but finally, in September, live performances gradually began to resume.  At long last, fans of musical theater were able to attend their favorite shows once again.

Despite the long-running success of Phantom, the musical’s composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, came to New York to help prepare for the re-opening.  After a year and a half of pandemic shutdowns, the cast, crew, and musicians were hard at work rehearsing the show, and Lloyd Webber was there to oversee revisions to the production. 

The staging of Phantom is elaborate.  There are almost 30 cast members, several of whom have been performing the musical since its opening in 1988.  Lloyd Webber’s participation in the reawakening of the production is unusual; composers rarely visit rehearsals of their works.  But this re-opening was particularly meaningful because Lloyd Webber had been one of the most vocal champions of theater during the shuttering of Broadway and of performance venues in Britain during the pandemic.

With live music, theater, and dance beginning to make a comeback, it has become more evident than ever how important the arts are to New York City.  Shows have been packed with cheering, sometimes tearful, audiences, deeply appreciative to have one element of “normal” life back again.  Stages all over the city, from Carnegie Hall to Lincoln Center have been lighting up.

“I have always tried with my shows…to take the boundaries of music as far as I can.” 

-Andrew Lloyd Webber

More about Andrew Lloyd Webber

– Born in London, England, on March 22, 1948.

– Lloyd Webber grew up in a musical family.  His father was a composer and musical director, his mother was a piano teacher, and his brother, Julian, became a professional cellist.

– Andrew himself showed signs of musical talent early on.  He started playing the piano and the violin at three and the French horn at six.  His love of theater also started blossoming when he was very young.  He attended performances of “West Side Story” and “My Fair Lady” in London, which inspired him to start writing his own pieces at the age of 11.

– Created a toy theater with his brother Julian.  They put on fantastical shows, including one called A Musical of Gigantic Importance.

– Studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, and at the Royal College of Music in London.

– In 1965, when Andrew was just 17, his agent introduced him to the lyricist, Tim Rice, who was only slightly older than Lloyd Webber.  It seemed to be a match made in heaven.  The two of them collaborated in the creation of some of Lloyd Webber’s most famous musicals, including his first, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968), as well as the blockbusters, Jesus Christ Superstar (1971) and Evita (1978).

– In 1981, Lloyd Webber finished Cats, which, in 1989, surpassed Jesus Christ Superstar as the longest-running British musical production ever.  And, in 1997, Cats became the longest-running musical on Broadway, too.  In the early 2000s, the London and Broadway productions closed, after having each put on more than 7,000 performances!  Cats has been translated into more than 20 languages and has become one of the most beloved musicals in the world.  Its famous song, “Memory,” has been hailed by critics as possibly the most successful songs ever from a musical.

– In 1986, Phantom of the Opera began its phenomenal run in theaters.  Its success eclipsed that of Cats, as it became the longest-running Broadway show in 2006.  Lloyd Webber wrote a sequel to Phantom, called Love Never Dies, which made its London debut in 2010.

– Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals that were made into films:  Jesus Christ Superstar (1973), Evita (1996), Phantom of the Opera (2004), and Cats (2019).  A few of his other works became made-for-television movies.

– Lloyd Webber is known for his perfectionism.  He admits to caring about aspects of his pieces that most listeners probably never even notice, like making sure that the musical forms match the meaning of the lyrics, that musical themes reappear throughout his pieces in just the right balance, and that melodies flawlessly mirror the moods and colors of various parts of the story.  He explained in a 1986 interview with The Guardian, “Nobody, I hope, notices that the beginning of Cats is fugue and that the middle of the Jelllicle Ball is fugue and that the resolution comes in a later theme.  But, for me, it’s the crucial thing on which the score depends, just as the whole of Evita is based on a triton and goes round in a complete circle.”

– Lloyd Webber’s most well-known works bring together different musical styles, mixing rock with classical opera, for example.  But audiences are not only wowed by the music.  They come to experience the lavish productions and spectacular staging effects.  Over the course of his career, Lloyd Webber has composed 21 musicals and received 45 awards, including seven Tony Awards, four Grammys, two Emmys, an Oscar, and a Golden Globe.  He was knighted in 1992.

– Lloyd Webber founded The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation in 1992.  Its goal has been to foster the growth of the arts in society, by striving to give everyone access to arts education.

Sources: Barone, Joshua, The New York Times, “Andrew Lloyd Webber Brings the Music of the Night Back to ‘Phantom,'” https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/22/theater/phantom-of-the-opera-broadway.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Theater, October 22, 2021; Emmrich, Stuart, The New York Times, “Andrew Lloyd Webber: Hotheaded Perfectionist,” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/22/books/review/unmasked-andrew-lloyd-webber.html, March 22, 2018; Billington, Michael, The Guardian, “Andrew Lloyd Webber at 70: how a ruthless perfectionist became Mr. Musical,” https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2018/mar/21/andrew-lloyd-webber-at-70-british-musical-theatre-cats-phantom, March 21, 2018; Britannica, “Andrew Lloyd Webber,” https://www.britannica.com/biography/Andrew-Lloyd-Webber-Baron-Lloyd-Webber-of-SydmontonClassicfm.com, “Lloyd Webber,” https://www.classicfm.com/composers/lloyd-webber/andrew-lloyd-webber-facts/, May 15, 2020.