All tagged Andrew Lloyd Webber
Chita Rivera is not the only person getting a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Tonys. Andrew Lloyd Webber, a Broadway composer who has certainly had his share of megahits over the years, was single-handedly the force that introduced the pop opera to Broadway and also utilized rock and roll for many of his scores. Inspired by classical sounds bought into the pop world, Webber is the musical voice behind such scores as Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Cats, Song & Dance, Starlight Express, The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard, and School of Rock (that’s just to name a few). In celebration of the composer’s big night at the Tonys, here is a compilation of some of Broadway’s best singing some of his greatest hits.
My piece ranking the musicals of Stephen Sondheim was very popular and it incited some great dialogue on how opinions differ depending on our experiences, emotions, and the criteria that draws us to musicals in the first place. Several of you wrote to me asking that I unleash my same ranking process on the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber. I will gratefully oblige, though I must warn you that my opinions on Sir Andrew are more extreme than those I have for Sondheim. Webber tends to only be as good as his lyricist at the moment, an ever-changing array of collaborators who have come and gone. Stephen Ward aside (which I don't know enough about yet to weigh-in), here are my opinions of his work, from worst to the best.
Cats is back. Though I am not particularly ready for it, I cannot dispute the fact the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of my childhood, based on the poems of T.S. Eliot, is readying itself for a revival at Broadway’s Neil Simon Theatre. I imagine many folks are excited by its return, especially those who have a fond “Memory” of their first visit to a Broadway show, ushered into the thrill of live theatre by this feline extravaganza. For some, this revival will be a cosmic return from the Heavyside Layer.
There was a time, mostly in the early stages of my love affair with musical theatre, that Andrew Lloyd Webber was the perceived god of Broadway and the West End. It is true that, especially in the 1980s, that his musicals ran for a very long time. Being the good little musical theatre student I was, I used my allowance to buy Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Evita, Joseph, and Jesus Christ Superstar on cassette (yes...it was that long ago). What I found (adding Aspects of Love, Starlight Express, and Sunset Boulevard to my schema) was that most of these musicals only featured one or two songs that stuck with me (in a major way) and the rest was just background noise. I don't write this to bash Sir Andrew, but rather to explore my own experiences with his music. How could I be so transfixed by one or two songs and so unmoved by the rest? I will go, show-by-show, through the recordings I listened to regularly, and discuss my favorites and least-favorites.