“Some folks dream of the wonders they’ll do before their time on this planet is through” - Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat.
2018 is the year of all things Lloyd Webber. So far this year, the influential composer has celebrated his 70th birthday, released his memoir - Unmasked - and a a four-disc compilation album of his greatest works entitled Unmasked: The Platinum Collection.
Arguably one of the most recognised names in the world of Musical Theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber grew up in a musical household (his mother was a piano teacher and his father a teacher at the Royal College of Music) so it is no surprise that the budding musician began penning his own music at a very young age.
For 50 years he has been composing for the stage (and screen) delivering some of the most loved, most performed, most watched and most memorable musicals in history.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, The Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Woman in White, CATS and, of course, Evita are just some of the blockbusters which sprung from the musical mind of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
For just over 40 years, his internationally renowned company The Really Useful Group or RUG (named as an homage to the Really Useful Engines in The Railway Series and Thomas The Tank Engine) has been a stalwart in the musical theatre, film and recording industries with the Really Useful Theatres branch now owning and managing 6 West End theatres including the Cambridge Theatre, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Her Majesty’s Theatre, London Palladium, Gillian Lynne Theatre and Adelphi Theatre (in association with the Nederlander Organization). RUG also owns the Other Palace (formerly St. James Theatre), an off-West End venue dedicated to discovering, developing and reimagining musical theatre and, more recently, plays.
From exciting young composer to a theatrical impresario with a seat in the House of Lords, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s career has been filled with the stuff musicals are made of.
Let’s take a look at the journey which brought Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music to the world and his blockbuster musical Evita to the Sydney Opera House.
The Birth of a British Lord
Andrew Lloyd Webber is born on 22 March in Kensington, London.
Go Go Go Andrew!
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat was composed in collaboration with writer Tim Rice as a concert piece and extended into a two act musical.
Jesus Christ Superstar (with lyrics by Tim Rice) - a rock opera about the last days of Jesus Christ told from Judas Iscariot’s point of view, was released as a concept album and later staged as a musical.
By Jeeves (originally Jeeves), is a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Alan Ayckbourn, based on the novels of P. G. Wodehouse
Evita concept album was released, followed by seasons on the West End (1978-1986) and Broadway (1979-1983). Evita was the first British musical to win the Tony Award for Best Musical. Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, Evita was directed by Harold Prince and choreographed by Larry Fuller, the same creative team set to recreate the production in Sydney, 2018.
Variations, an album of classical and rock fusion composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and performed by his younger brother, cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.
Tell Me On A Sunday, a one act song cycle written for solo female
Angel of Music
Cats was a groundbreaking musical when it opened in 1981 and it is still performed all over the world today. Based on T.S. Eliott’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the show has been performed in 30 countries in 15 languages. The original West End production ran for 21 years, becoming the longest running show in London’s history.
Song and Dance is a combination of two smaller works written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and married together in two acts. Act I was the 1979 musical Tell Me On A Sunday, and Act II was a ballet choreographed to the music from the 1978 album Variations.
The Phantom of the Opera is arguably Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most widely known work, based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux. With over 70 international awards to its name, including the 1998 Olivier Award and 1988 Tony Award for Best Musical, The Phantom Of The Opera has been seen by over 140 million people. The show was directed by Harold Prince, a decade after he created Evita.
Aspects of Love is a musical based on David Garnett’s novella of the same name. The original production featured direction by Trevor Nunn and choreography Gillian Lynne, the creative team from Cats in 1981.
New Ways To Dream
Sunset Boulevard opened in London and then transferred Los Angeles the same year. The show premiered on Broadway in 1994, winning the Tony for Best Musical (1995) and returned in a celebrated 2016/2017 revival on the West End and on Broadway.
Whistle Down The Wind played at the National Theatre in Washington DC and was reworked and mounted in 1998 in London, directed by Gale Edwards.
Love Lives Again
The Beautiful Game is a collaboration between Ben Elton and Andrew Lloyd Webber, set in Ireland, 1969. The song ‘Our Kind of Love’, was cut from the re-worked version of the show in 2008, and the melody used as the basis for the title song in Love Never Dies.
The Woman In White premiered in London, directed by long time collaborator, Trevor Nunn. A London revival was staged in 2017 starring Australian performer Anna O’Byrne.
Love Never Dies (a sequel to Phantom) opened in the UK but was reworked considerably for the Australian premiere in 2011 starring Anna O’Byrne and Ben Lewis, directed by Simon Phillps. This production was filmed for international DVD and cinema release, taking the Australian performances to the world.
Another Evita in another hall
Andrew Lloyd Webber turns 70, released his memoir - Unmasked - and a a four-disc compilation album of his greatest works, Unmasked: The Platinum Collection.
Evita premieres at the Sydney Opera House in October, directed by Harold Prince and starring Tina Arena. The show will then transfer to Arts Centre Melbourne as the Summer Musical of 2018/19.