I read with interest last week that musical maestro Andrew Lloyd Webber currently has four shows running simultaneously on Broadway and another two in London’s West End plus an earlier creation touring the UK from top to bottom! A feat not achived since 1953 when Rodgers & Hammerstein with thier musicals Oaklahoma!, South Pacific, The King & I and Me & Juliet laid down the guanlet.
Let’s face it folks, our very own Lord Lloyd Webber is a legend. When it comes to creating something special for the stage he has the midas touch, although that’s not to say he hasn’t had a few bum notes in his career with most notably The Beautiful Game and Stephen Ward the Musical which are probably best left to the Wikipedia archives.
Anyway, let’s get back to his present successes and the joys we as the audience expereince when we go to see a musical that has the great man’s name attached to it.
With the opening of Sunset Boulevard in New York earlier this month (Feb 2017), it meant that along with his three other hit musicals on Broadway – The Phantom of the Opera, Cats and The School of Rock – Lloyd Webber equalled the record set by Messers Rodgers & Hammerstein 64 years ago.
However, it’s not just Broadway that the Lord is lauding it over – on UK shores we have the West End’s longest running musical The Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty’s theatre and the recently opened (Nov 2016) School of Rock at the New London theatre playing to packed houses every night, with a revival of Cats in 2015-16 at the London Palladium starring Beverley Knight as Grizabella. He also has one of his original hits Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat doing the rounds with a UK tour and starring Joe McElderry in the title role. Speaking of all things technicoloured (as we Brits like to spell it) back in February 2014, it was announced that Elton John’s production company had acquired the rights to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and is planning to adapt it as an animated musical film… I wait in anticipation for this event!
Asked why he thought his musicals were so good at sustaining popularity, Lloyd Webber said : “I don’t think anything has fundamentally changed. As far as musicals are concerned, the bigger change is probably La La Land. Musicals have never been the number one thing of Hollywood. As well as some musicals have done, they’re not huge by Hollywood standards. La La Land, I think, is a big change. It woke Hollywood up to the musical again.”
And I, for one, am completely on board with more musicals – stage, film and tv all are welcome in my book.
So is Lord Lloyd Webber the ‘GOAT’ (Greatest Of All Time) at writing successful musicals? Well, I think he’s pretty much up there with the late greats such as the aforementioned Rodgers & Hammerstein, Ira Berlin and Cole Porter. I’m not sure that Britain could offer anyone else so consistently successful in his field certainly in my life-time. Do you agree with me?
Have a good week