Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lloyd Webber, Andrew
British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber “has spun a worldwide empire unmatched in the history of musical theater,” wrote Michael Walsh in Time. The first composer, in 1983, to have three musicals play simultaneously on Broadway and London’s West End—a feat he duplicated in 1988—Lloyd Webber has amassed a string of hits and awards in his twenty-year career with such shows as Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, and The Phantom of the Opera. Known for their elaborate productions and lush scores, Lloyd Webber musicals have enjoyed lengthy stage runs—in 1991 Cats was playing in its ninth year on Broadway—while touring professional productions have played in more than fifteen countries across North America, Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia. Also a noted theatrical producer and entrepreneur, Lloyd Webber is the founder of the sprawling Really Useful Group, which comprises a production company, a music-publishing and record division, a video company, and the refurbished Palace Theatre of London. His personal fortune has been estimated to exceed $200 million.
Lloyd Webber’s success can be attributed to his particular blend of showmanship and craft, which have made him a favorite of theatergoers. Productions of his musicals are often lavish, while his musical scores—which display such varied influences as rock ‘n roll, country, blues, and opera—demonstrate his often-praised gift for melody. Critics differ wildly, however, on Lloyd Webber’s contributions to musical theater. To some, as John Rockwell commented in the New York Times Magazine, “he is the savior and regenerator of the very genre of the musical,” “a composer of melodic genius and telling theatrical savvy,” and “as a producer,… regarded as a resource for the revitalization of the musical on both sides of the Atlantic.” On the other hand, others regard Lloyd Webber as “a cheap panderer to the lowest common denominator, derivative and faceless” or “the instigator of the current penchant for glitzy spectacle on Broadway.” Rockwell points out, however, that “one thing about Andrew Lloyd Webber on which all squabbling observers must agree,… is that he is hugely, even astonishingly successful.”
Lloyd Webber grew up among an accomplished musical family. His late father William was director of the London College of Music, his mother Jean is a piano instructor, and his brother Julian, for whom Andrew composed Variations, is a noted concert cellist. As a young boy, Lloyd Webber played the piano, violin, and French horn, and his first composition, six short pieces titled The Toy Theatre Suite, was published when he was nine years old. He was exposed to many types of
For the Record…
Born March 22, 1948, in London, England; son of William Southcombe (a composer and director of the London College of Music) and Jean Hermione (a piano teacher; maiden name, Johnstone) Lloyd Webber; married Sarah Jane Tudor Hugill (a singer and musician), July 24, 1971 (divorced, 1983); married Sarah Brightman (a singer and actress), March 22, 1984 (divorced, 1990); married Madeleine Gurdon, February 9, 1991; children: (first marriage) Nicholas, Imogen. Education: Attended Magdalen College, Oxford University, 1965; Guildhall School of Music, 1965-66; and the Royal College of Music, 1966.
Composer of musicals, including The Likes of Us, 1965; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, 1968; Jesus Christ Superstar, 1970; Jeeves, 1975; Evita, 1976; Tell Me on a Sunday, 1980; Cats, 1981; Song & Dance, 1982; Starlight Express, 1984; The Phantom of the Opera, 1986; and Aspects of Love, 1989. Composer of Variations, 1977, and Requiem, 1985. Composer of filmscores for Gumshoe, 1971, and The Odessa File, 1974.
Producer and co-producer of numerous plays and musicals in London and New York City.
Awards: Has received numerous Tony, Drama Desk, and Grammy awards and nominations.
Addresses: Home —Sydmonton, Hampshire, England; New York City. Office— The Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Ave., London W1V 8AY, England.
music in his household; as he told Robert Palmer in the New York Times, he was “brought up to believe that music was just music, that the only division within it was between good music and bad.” Particularly fond of American musicals, Lloyd Webber staged productions in a toy theater he set up in his family’s home. His musical idol was composer Richard Rodgers, composer of such stage classics as Oklahoma, The King and I, and South Pacific, the latter Lloyd Webber’s personal favorite.
When Lloyd Webber was in college, he was introduced to Tim Rice, a record producer and aspiring lyricist, who shared Lloyd Webber’s tastes in rock ‘n roll. Their first collaboration was a musical—as yet unproduced—based on the life of a Victorian philanthropist named Dr. Barnardo, entitled The Likes of Us. They achieved recognition for their second collaboration, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, an innovative adaptation of the biblical tale of Joseph and his twelve brothers. Mixing various musical styles, including opera, rock, country-western, and calypso, Joseph was first performed by the boys’ choir of London’s St. Paul’s School, and received a favorable notice from a Sunday Times music critic. It was later expanded into a two-act musical and demonstrated the songwriters’ gift for parody, featuring the Pharaoh of Egypt as an Elvis Presley-type performer. Lyricist Rice commented to Walsh: “Without realizing it… we were breaking new ground by forgetting about Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
Lloyd Webber and Rice returned to a biblical theme in their next venture, the hugely successful rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. A rendering of the last seven days in Jesus’s life, the musical—initially unable to find a producer—was released as an album and sold nearly three million copies in the United States. On the strength of the album, the 1971 Broadway production generated unprecedented advance ticket sales of over $1 million and went on to run for 720 performances, despite protests from religious groups who took offense at the parodic portrayals of biblical figures and the questions raised about Jesus’s life as a man. Many critics, conceding that the show was provocative, praised its innovations for the musical theater. Although Superstar was not the first rock musical ever produced, as Rockwell noted, it “pretty much established the use of rock within the context of the musical…. What Lloyd Webber achieved was the expansion of the musical-theater composer’s resources to include rock, at a time when most American writers for the musical theater continued to resist it.”
Lloyd Webber and Rice’s next collaboration, Evita, turned out to be an even greater success. Based on the life of Eva Peron, wife of Argentine dictator Juan Peron, Evita employed an elaborate stage production by Hal Prince, including murals, parades, and banners, and a lushly orchestrated score by Lloyd Webber. As with Superstar, Evita was first released as an album, which, coupled with the success of its London stage premiere, created much excitement for its 1979 Broadway opening. Evita went on to run for nearly four years on Broadway, and received a total of seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical of the Year. Despite its commercial success, Lloyd Webber and Rice were criticized, as Walsh reports “for glorifying the right-wing Eva and Juan Peron, even though they intended the show as an allegory of the deteriorating political situation in England in the mid-1970s.” However, Frank Rich of the New York Times, a perennial Lloyd Webber critic, stated in the documentary The Andrew Lloyd Webber Story, that “while Evita may in some ways be a naive and simplistic historical view of the Perons, as show business lyric writing Rice’s work is very clever, and I think Lloyd Webber responded with a more interesting score and a more varied score than usual.”
Rice and Lloyd Webber parted ways after Evita, and in his next stage offering, Lloyd Webber set upon what seemed an unlikely subject: a musical rendering of a group of obscure T. S. Eliot poems entitled Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Working with director Trevor Nunn, Lloyd Webber assembled the spectacle Cats, which featured a band of seven synthesizers, full orchestra, special effects, a large cast of singers and dancers in cat costumes, and a specially designed set resembling a larger-than-life junkyard. Cats won several Tony Awards, including the Best Musical of 1983, and featured the hit song, “Memory,” which was recorded by several artists, including Barbra Streisand and Judy Collins. Although lacking in plot—a criticism raised against many of Lloyd Webber’s musicals—Cats, according to Stephen Holden in the New York Times, “comes closer to solving the problems of the bookless musical than any of Mr. Lloyd Webber’s previous scores,” adding that “because it is a suite of songs rather than a dramatically structured musical pageant, it isn’t weighed down with tedious passages of connective recitative.” Rockwell cites Cats as “the key musical in [Lloyd Webber’s] career, the show that defined him on his own, [and] established the very idea of a new English musical.”
Song & Dance combines two separate Lloyd Webber works, Tell Me on a Sunday, originally a mini-opera for television, and Variations, a choreographed selection of music Lloyd Webber adapted from Italian composer Niccolo Paganini’s A-minor Caprice No. 24. Song & Dance ran for two years in London, and was a hit on Broadway with Bernadette Peters in the starring role of Emma. Lloyd Webber’s next musical, the fantasy Starlight Express, featured a cast of more than twenty people on roller skates and depicted a competition between various types of trains. Originally conceived as a collection of genre songs—rock, rap, blues, and gospel—Starlight was scorned, as Walsh noted, for being “an overblown extravaganza.” Lloyd Webber himself was disappointed with the final outcome. “It was a mistake to have put it anywhere near where it could be considered a Broadway musical,” he told Walsh. True to Lloyd Webber’s track record, however, the musical was a commercial success on both the West End and Broadway.
Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera, first produced in London in 1986, was one of the most awaited musicals of the 1988 Broadway season, amassing an unprecedented $16 million in advance ticket sales. Based on the 1911 Gaston Leroux novel about a disfigured genius who falls in love with a beautiful Swedish singer at the Paris opera, The Phantom of the Opera is considered to be among Lloyd Webber’s most accomplished musicals. Marilyn Stasio noted in Life that Lloyd Webber fans praise “its operative sweep, effusively melodic themes, irresistibly bigger-than-life characters, and above all, the achingly romantic quality of its love story.” Rockwell called Phantom “Lloyd Webber’s most undisguisedly operatic work yet…. Its Victorian, melodramatic scenario suits his grandiose rock-symphonic predilections, as well as the ingenious panache of [production designer Hal] Prince’s staging and Lloyd Webber’s knack for even more stirring tunes than usual.” Another production marvel, Phantom features a boat sailing along a subterranean waterway and a huge chandelier that appears to crash to the floor.
Lloyd Webber’s 1989 musical, Aspects of Love, debuted on the West End and premiered on Broadway the following year. With a complex and twisted plot, Aspects of Love is based on the novel by British writer David Garnett, a member of the famous Bloomsbury literary group. The musical revolves around the intertwining lives and loves of a circle of friends, and nearly the entire show is sung, with little dialogue between characters. The show received many negative reviews—one London critic called it “a second-rate musical, based on a third-rate novel”—yet Lloyd Webber considers it one of his more enduring efforts. He told the New York Times that Aspects of Love would “outlive and outlaugh all my other shows, because 100 percent of the world loves love.” Regarding negative criticism of his work, he added: “The reviews from the critics are of no interest to me.”
Walsh wrote: “It has been fashionable to dismiss Lloyd Webber as a panderer to the basest melodic cravings of the mass audience, hammering home a few repetitive themes amid overblown orchestral climaxes and distracting technological gimmickry. His scores have been derided as derivative and too dependent on pastiche—meretricious parrotings of his Broadway betters (Rodgers) and his operatic antecedents (Puccini).” Lloyd Webber scoffs at such views of his work, telling Walsh: “People talk about commercialism, but in actual fact, I really fight it an awful lot. I don’t think that way. I put an awful lot into these scores. It is not just a matter of two or three songs repeated and repeated. If people think it is, they are crazy. The reason why the public responds is that the pieces are very rich.”
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, [London], 1969, new issue, MCA, 1974, Broadway cast recording, Chrysalis, 1982.
Jesus Christ Superstar: A Rock Opera, Decca, 1970, Jesus Christ Superstar: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Album, MCA, 1973.
Evita, London cast recording, MCA, 1976, Evita: Premiere American Recording, MCA, 1979.
Variations, MCA, 1977.
Tell Me on a Sunday, Polydor, 1980.
Cats (includes “Memory“), London cast recording, Geffen, 1981, Broadway cast recording, Geffen, 1983.
Song & Dance, London cast recording, Polydor, 1982, Broadway cast recording, RCA Red Seal, 1985.
Starlight Express, London cast recording, Polydor, 1984, Broadway cast recording, MCA, 1987.
Requiem, Angel, 1985.
The Phantom of the Opera, London cast recording, Polydor, 1987.
Aspects of Love, London cast recording, 1989.
Newsmakers, Gale, 1989.
McKnight, Gerald, Andrew Lloyd Webber, St. Martin’s, 1984.
Walsh, Michael, Andrew Lloyd Webber, His Life and Works: A Critical Biography, Abrams, 1989.
Business Week, April 23, 1990.
Christian Century, March 18-25, 1987.
Life, February, 1988.
Maclean’s, June 8, 1987; February 8, 1988.
New York, September 20, 1982.
New York Times, February 10, 1982; September 1, 1982; July 3, 1983; June 8, 1986; December 20, 1987; June 26, 1990; January 23, 1991.
New York Times Magazine, December 20, 1987.
People, December 27, 1982; January 3, 1983; March 3, 1986; March 7, 1988.
Time, January 18, 1988.
U.S. News & World Report, February 1, 1988.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Story (documentary), PBS, 1988.
—Michael E. Mueller
Lloyd Webber, Andrew
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER
Born: London, England, 22 March 1948
Genre: Musical Theater
Best-selling album since 1990: Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Greatest Songs (1995)
Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber epitomized the type of lavish, heavily produced musical theater works—often called "mega musicals"—popular in the 1980s and early 1990s. Lloyd Webber's most successful creations—Evita, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera —found a popularity that went far beyond the main theater arteries of Broadway in New York and London's West End. Setting records for longevity among musicals, they became worldwide phenomena, translated and performed in many languages. Lloyd Webber borrowed melodic ideas from great classical composers such as Giacamo Puccini, pairing tuneful hooks with the blaring electrics of modern rock music. At the same time he spent millions of dollars on breathtaking stage effects that combined modern technology with an old-fashioned sense of razzle-dazzle. By the mid-1990s, with the mega-musical being supplanted by cheaper, more restrained productions, Lloyd Webber's predominance began to erode. Even in his less successful productions, however, he displayed an acute understanding of the power of stagecraft.
Beginnings and 1970s Hits
Born in England to musician parents, Lloyd Webber began writing plays for school as a boy. Attending college at prestigious Oxford University he met lyricist Tim Rice, with whom he wrote his first musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968), based on a story in the Bible. Turning to the same source, Lloyd Webber and Rice next composed Jesus Christ Superstar (1971), which became a pop hit when released as an album prior to its stage production. One of the first "rock operas"—musicals that captured a young audience through the use of electric guitars and other rock elements—Superstar invigorated Broadway and the West End with a bold, fresh spirit. Evita (1978) was the duo's next triumph, a bio-musical based on the life of Argentine ruler Eva Peron. Graced with tuneful, romantic songs such as "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," Evita was Lloyd Webber's biggest success to date, making a star out of actress Patti LuPone when it opened on Broadway in 1979.
Parting ways from Rice, Lloyd Webber paired with English producer Cameron Mackintosh for Cats (1982), based on the work of great twentieth-century poet T. S. Eliot. Cats made up for its lack of plot with an abundance of style. With actors dressed in whiskers, tails, and full body costumes, a hit song, "Memory," based on the dramatic style of Puccini, and a striking visual gimmick—the entire theater was transformed into a massive junkyard—Cats virtually defined musical theater in the 1980s, becoming the longest-running show in Broadway history. Lloyd Webber's next musical, The Phantom of the Opera (1986), adapted from French author Gaston Leroux's novel about a disfigured man haunting the Paris Opera House, rivaled Cats in popularity. By this point, fans had learned to expect high-tech production effects from Lloyd Webber's musicals. Phantom, featuring a giant glass chandelier designed to give the illusion of crashing down upon the audience, did not disappoint. While critics expressed disdain for Lloyd Webber's lowbrow style—in 2001 the U.K. Guardian described his musicals as "unspeakable attempts to send the audience out whistling the scenery"—he displayed his talent as a serious classical composer with Requiem (1985). Written after the death of his father, Requiem was an attempt to unify rock and classical styles through the theme of mortality.
With Phantom and Cats drawing record crowds, Lloyd Webber was at his commercial peak in the early 1990s. However, rocky times lay ahead. The 1989 show Aspects of Love had been a rare misfire, closing on Broadway after only two years—a short run by Lloyd Webber's standards. A dissertation on love from various perspectives, the show's theme was perhaps too abstract for mainstream audiences. Lloyd Webber returned to well-known source material for his next musical, Sunset Boulevard (1993), based on the classic 1950 film by legendary director and writer Billy Wilder. The story of Norma Desmond, a lonely, aging movie queen who latches onto a struggling young writer, Sunset Boulevard was full of the rich dramatic potential that Lloyd Webber had so often used to his advantage. But despite its promise, the musical was plagued by trouble from the beginning. After New York critics panned the original West End production, Lloyd Webber fired its star LuPone, who had already been contracted to transfer her role to the forthcoming Broadway run. The ensuing bad press only intensified after Lloyd Webber gave the Broadway role to film star Glenn Close, who had received good reviews in the U.S. premiere of the show in Los Angeles. Actress Faye Dunaway was hired as the Los Angeles replacement, but dismissed just days before her scheduled opening. Lloyd Webber went on to engage in heated, much-publicized battles with LuPone and Dunaway, eventually settling with them after a lengthy series of lawsuits.
Despite its tumultuous beginnings, Sunset Boulevard had some memorable elements. This time the visual gimmick was Desmond's ornate mansion, which descended slowly onto the stage as Norma herself walked down a grand staircase. The score, however, is unmemorable save for two songs, "With One Look" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye." The latter ranks as one of Lloyd Webber's finest moments. The once-famous Desmond, under the false impression that she has been called back to work, visits the studio lot where thirty years prior she made her greatest films. After Desmond walks onto the set, blinking her eyes against the bright lights, she looks around, trying to discern something familiar in the updated equipment that surrounds her. This woman, who has seemed so impervious throughout the evening, suddenly appears small and vulnerable. Lloyd Webber and stage director Trevor Nunn allow the silence to linger as the poignant irony of the scene sets in. The music then swells gently as Desmond sings the first lines: "I don't know why I'm frightened / I know my way around here." The song and its placement within the show demonstrate Lloyd Webber's talent for finding the human within the grandiose. On one level, "As If We Never Said Goodbye" works as a tuneful, emotive ballad, but it is also an aching portrayal of memory, association, and the enduring power of fame.
Unfortunately, Sunset Boulevard fell victim to changing trends in musical theater. By 1994, when it opened on Broadway, the popularity of the mega-musical was declining. Due to increasingly prohibitive costs, theater producers began mounting smaller-scale productions with less elaborate sets. Concurrently, the rise in ticket prices to ninety dollars or more made Broadway audiences less willing to try new and untested shows. As a result, producers largely devoted their energies in the late 1990s and early 2000s to "revivals"—updated versions of familiar musicals of the past such as Oklahoma! and Annie Get Your Gun. After Sunset Boulevard none of Lloyd Webber's shows, including Bombay Dreams (2002), a musical about the Indian film industry, moved to Broadway following their initial West End premieres. Always resourceful, Lloyd Webber responded to the changing climate by cutting back on expenses and reducing staff at his company, Really Useful Productions.
Andrew Lloyd Webber changed the face of musical theater through elaborate productions that combined rock music, classical melodies, and technological wizardry. Beneath the high gloss of his work was a human core that appealed to a broad range of audiences. While Lloyd Webber had difficulty sustaining his popularity past the mid-1990s, his innovations left a lasting imprint on the theatrical world.
Jesus Christ Superstar (Decca, 1971); Evita: Original Broadway Cast Recording (MCA, 1979); Cats: Original Broadway Cast Recording (Polygram, 1982); The Phantom of the Opera: Original Broadway Cast Recording (Polygram, 1986); Sunset Boulevard: 1994 Los Angeles Cast Recording (Polygram, 1994); Requiem (Polygram, 1995).
Lloyd Webber, Andrew
Born: March 22, 1948
English composer and musician
The English musician Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of such musical theater hits as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, The Phantom of the Opera, and Aspects of Love. His early successes brought him four Tony awards, four Drama Desk awards, and three Grammys.
Andrew Lloyd Webber was born on March 22, 1948, in London, England. His father, William, was the director of the London College of Music, his mother, Joan Hermione, was a piano teacher, and his younger brother, Julian, is a cellist. Thus, Lloyd Webber came by his musical ability naturally. Young Lloyd played the piano, the violin, and the French horn. Excerpts from his first musical composition, The Toy Theatre, were published in a British music magazine.
As a child, Lloyd Webber dreamed of becoming Britain's chief inspector of ancient monuments. He won a Challenge Scholarship to Westminster and in 1965 entered Oxford University as a history major. In the 1980s, after a long and successful career in music, he exercised his love for history through Sydmonton Court, his country estate, whose oldest section dates from the sixteenth century and where his compositions were tried out at yearly festivals.
Other childhood pastimes of Lloyd Webber's surface in his works and his approach to their staging. His keen ability to envision fully-mounted productions of even his most spectacular pieces may have stemmed, at least in part, from his experience as an eleven year old working with his elaborate toy theater, built to scale. Lloyd Webber's lifelong fascination with trains was exhibited in Starlight Express (1984). Some consider this his childhood fantasy gone wrong, a warped interpretation of the famous story of the little engine that could.
Lloyd Webber's formal education ended after only one term at Oxford. He left to begin work on the never-to-be-produced musical The Likes of Us, which is based on the life of British Dr. Bernardo, a well-known philanthropist, or one who raises money for charities. Lloyd Webber's career was closely linked with that of lyricist (writer of songs) Tim Rice, and their partnership began with this musical.
Lloyd Webber and Rice
The duo's next effort was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968, extended 1972), at first a concert piece, then expanded into a two-act production. The score demonstrates what were to become the Lloyd Webber trademarks of shifting time signatures and styles, ranging from French cafe music to calypso (a musical style originating from the West Indies), country, jazz, and rock.
In Jesus Christ Superstar (1971), popular music was presented in classical operatic form. Developed first as a demonstration disc for Decca Records, it began the Lloyd Webber-Rice tradition of recording first, then producing. The score boasts the hit single "I Don't Know How To Love Him." Tom O'Horgan, who gained fame by directing Hair, directed the 1971 version at Broadway.
When Rice became irritated with a proposed musical based on the works of writer P. G. Wodehouse (1881–1975), Lloyd Webber teamed up with British playwright Alan Ayckbourn on the unsuccessful Jeeves (1974). During this period, Lloyd Webber also composed the film scores for Gumshoe (1971) and The Odessa File (1973).
Again, Lloyd Webber and Rice were paired for Evita (1976), the story of the actress who married Argentinean dictator Juan Peron (1895–1975). Veteran Broadway producer Harold Prince was hired to direct the 1978 and 1979 productions on both sides of the Atlantic. Evita faced the criticisms that have consistently plagued Lloyd Webber's compositions. He was accused of "borrowing" songs and his work was called "derivative," "synthetic," and a "pastiche," or imitation of others.
Success in the 1980s
Lloyd Webber's next production, Song and Dance (1982), was the result of combining two of his earlier pieces: Variations (1978) and Tell Me on a Sunday (1979). Variations (1978) is a set of cello variations written for his brother, Julian, and Tell Me on a Sunday (1979) is the story of an English working girl who moves to New York City and goes through a series of relationships.
Cats (1981) marked the composer's personal and professional breakthrough. Based on T. S. Eliot's (1888–1965) volume of children's verses, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the production was staged by Royal Shakespeare director Trevor Nunn and its extravagant scenery was created by John Napier. Rice was called in to provide assistance on the lyrics for the now-famous "Memory," but his words were abandoned in favor of Nunn's.
Lloyd Webber found himself attracted at first vocally, then romantically, to performer Sarah Brightman. She was a castmember in Cats, and in 1983 he abandoned his first wife, Sarah Hugill, for her. He later married Brightman and she was cast as the female lead, Christine Daae, in The Phantom of the Opera.
With Cats, putting on an enormous display became the key to success both in London and on Broadway. It was only natural that a production like Starlight Express would follow on its heels. Lloyd Webber and Prince were paired again for the romantic 1986 production of Phantom of the Opera. Lloyd Webber's production Aspects of Love (1989) was in many ways a "retread." The score is filled with tunes retrieved from Lloyd Webber's past, reworked for the occasion.
In the 1980s Lloyd Webber turned his attention toward his production company, Really Useful Theatre Group, Inc. In April 1990 he announced his intention to take a leave from writing musicals and to turn to moviemaking, perhaps even a film version of Cats with Stephen Spielberg (1947–).
In July 1990 Lloyd Webber announced his impending divorce from Sarah Brightman while she was completing her summer concert tour of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. However, the couple planned to continue working together after their divorce, despite Lloyd Webber's early marriage in London to Madeleine Gurdon.
Lloyd Webber went on to produce Sunset Boulevard, in London, 1993, and in Los Angeles and on Broadway, both in 1994. Besides The Likes of Us (lyrics by Rice), his other unproduced plays include Come Back Richard, Your Country Needs You (with Rice), and Cricket.
In 2000 Lloyd Webber bought Stoll Moss, one of Britain's top theater companies, for about 85 million pounds ($139.4 million), which made him one of London's biggest theater owners.
For More Information
McKnight, Gerald. Andrew Lloyd Webber. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1984.
Walsh, Michael. Andrew Lloyd Webber: His Life and Works: A Critical Biography. New York: Abrams, 1997.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber
The British musician Andrew Lloyd Webber (born 1948) was the composer of such musical theater hits as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, The Phantom of the Opera, and Aspects of Love. His early successes brought him four Tony awards, four Drama Desk awards, and three Grammys.
Andrew Lloyd Webber was born on March 22, 1948, in London, England. His father was the director of the London College of Music and his mother, a piano teacher. Thus, Lloyd Webber came by his musical ability naturally. As a boy he played piano, violin, and French horn. Excerpts from his first musical composition, The Toy Theatre, were published in a British music magazine.
As a child, Webber aspired to become Britain's chief inspector of ancient monuments. He won a Challenge Scholarship to Westminster and in 1965 entered Oxford as a history major. In the 1980s he exercised his love for history via Sydmonton Court, his country estate, whose oldest section dates from the 16th century and where his compositions were tried out at yearly festivals.
Other childhood pastimes of Webber's surface in his works and his approach to their staging. His keen ability to envision fully-mounted productions of even his most spectacular pieces may have emanated, at least in part, from his experience as an 11-year-old working with his elaborate toy theater, built to scale. Webber's lifelong fascination with trains was exhibited in Starlight Express (1984). Some consider this his childhood fantasy gone awry, an adulteration of the famous story of the little engine that could.
Webber's formal education ended after only one term at Oxford. He left to begin work on the never-to-be-produced musical The Likes of Us, which is based on the life of British philanthropist Dr. Bernardo. Webber's career was inextricably linked with that of lyricist Tim Rice, and their partnership began with this musical.
The duo's next effort was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968, extended 1972), at first a concert piece, then expanded into a two-act production. The score demonstrates what were to become the Webber trademarks of shifting time signatures and styles, ranging from French cafe music to calypso, country, jazz, and the popular rock idiom.
In Jesus Christ Superstar (1971), popular music was presented in classical operatic form. Conceived first as a demonstration disc for Decca, it began the Webber/Rice tradition of recording first, then producing. The score boasts the hit single "I Don't Know How To Love Him." The 1971 Broadway version was directed by Tom O'Horgan, of Hair notoriety.
When Rice became disenchanted with a proposed musical based on the works of P. G. Wodehouse, Webber teamed up with British playwright Alan Ayckbourn on the unsuccessful Jeeves (1974). During this period Webber also composed the film scores for Gumshoe (1971) and The Odessa File (1973).
Webber and Rice were paired once again for Evita (1976), the story of the dangerously manipulative actress-courtesan who married Argentinean dictator Juan Peron. Veteran Broadway producer Harold Prince was commandeered to direct the 1978 and 1979 productions on both sides of the Atlantic. Evita faced the criticisms that have consistently plagued Webber's compositions. He was accused of "borrowing" songs and his work was called "derivative, " "synthetic, " and a "pastiche."
Webber's next (and less impressive) production, Song and Dance (1982), was the result of the fusion of two of his earlier pieces: Variations (1978) and Tell Me on a Sunday (1979). Variations (1978) is a set of cello variations written for his brother, Julian, and Tell Me on a Sunday (1979), is the story of an English working girl who moves to New York and through a series of relationships.
Cats (1981) constituted the composer's personal and professional watershed. Based on T. S. Eliot's volume of children's verses, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the production was staged by Royal Shakespeare director Trevor Nunn and its extravagant scenery was created by John Napier. Rice was called in to provide assistance on the lyrics for the now-famous "Memory, " but his words were abandoned in favor of Nunn's.
Webber found himself attracted at first vocally, then romantically, to performer Sarah Brightman. She was a castmember in Cats, and in 1983 he abandoned his first wife, Sarah Hugill, for her. He later married Brightman and she was cast as the female lead, Christine Daae, in The Phantom of the Opera.
With Cats, spectacle became the key to success both in London and on Broadway. It was only natural that a production like Starlight Express would follow on its heels. Webber and Prince were paired again for the romantic 1986 production of Phantom of the Opera.
Webber's production Aspects of Love (1989) was in many ways a "retread." The score is filled with tunes retrieved from Webber's past, reworked for the occasion.
Webber turned his attention toward his production company, Really Useful Theatre Group, Inc., in the 1980s. In April 1990 he announced his intention to take a hiatus from writing musicals and to turn to moviemaking, perhaps even a film version of Cats with Stephen Spielberg.
Ironically, in July 1990 Webber announced his impending divorce from Sarah Brightman while she was completing her summer concert tour of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber. However, after the November divorce the couple planned to continue working together, despite Webber's early marriage in London to Madeleine Gurdon.
Webber went on to produce Sunset Boulevard, in London, 1993, and in Los Angeles and on Broadway, both in 1994. Besides The Likes of Us (lyrics by Rice), his other unproduced plays include Come Back Richard, Your Country Needs You (with Rice) and Cricket.
A behind-the-professional-scenes perspective permeates Gerald McKnight's 1984 biography Andrew Lloyd Webber. TIME magazine music critic Michael Walsh's 1989 Andrew Lloyd Webber: His Life and Works (dealt with chronologically) deftly combines intelligent criticism of the composer's works with biographical detail. Richard Melcher, "The Roar of the Greasepaint Is Too Quiet for Lloyd Webber" (TIME, April 23, 1990) discusses the business career and financial position of Webber as he seeks to broaden his talents into other media. □
Lloyd Webber, Andrew
Andrew Lloyd Webber, 1948–, British theatrical composer. A member of a successful musical family, he began composing musicals as a teenager; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968) was an early work done in collaboration with the lyricist Tim Rice. Lloyd Webber's spectacular string of hit musicals beginning in the 1970s helped transform London into the major center for new musicals. His scores include those for Jesus Christ, Superstar (1971), his first major success, also in collaboration with Rice; Evita (1978), a fictional biography of Eva Perón; The Phantom of the Opera (1986; Tony); Aspects of Love (1989); Sunset Boulevard (1993; Tony); and The Woman in White (2004), based on the classic Wilkie Collins suspense novel. His show Cats (1981), based on poems by T. S. Eliot, was the longest-running production in Broadway history until The Phantom of the Opera set a new record in 2006. Lloyd Webber was knighted in 1992 and created a life peer (Baron Lloyd-Webber of Sydmonton) in 1997. In 2000 he purchased 10 London theaters and variety halls, which, when added to the three he already owned, made him the dominant owner in the world's largest theatrical district.
Lloyd Webber, (Sir) Andrew
Lloyd Webber, Andrew
Lloyd Webber, Andrew
LLOYD WEBBER, Andrew
LLOYD WEBBER, Andrew. British, b. 1948. Genres: Songs/Lyrics and libretti. Career: Composer, author, and producer. Publications: (with T. Rice) Evita: The Legend of Eva Peron, 1919-1952, 1978; Cats: The Book of the Musical, 1981; (with Rice) Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, 1982. Address: The Really Useful Group, 22 Tower St, London WC2H 9TW, England.