This week, I’m highlighting someone most people should already know, and if they don’t think they do, they probably at least know some of his contributions to theatre. If you didn't already know, he is a composer for 13 Broadway productions and several other endeavors. Andrew Lloyd Webber was born on March 22, 1948 in London, England. He attended Westminster School as a teenager and later graduated from Magdalen College in Oxford. He was knighted in 1992, and a year after received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, both of which he shares with Tim Rice. He also has several Grammy, Tony, and Olivier Awards.
His first attempt at creating a show was in 1965 when he met lyricist Tim Rice. The two contributed on a project they called The Likes of Us which did not succeed in gaining a backer. The two later crafted Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, which was first performed in 1968 over the course of 20 minutes at a prep school for young boys. It took the Broadway stage in 1982 and boded well with audiences. Following this production was another sacred-based show that did very well called Jesus Christ Superstar which originated as a concept album. Breaking away from this, the composer/lyricist team worked on Evita, based upon the life of First Lady of Argentina, Eva Péron. They worked on a project called Jeeves that didn't take off. The two split up, collaborating with other artists to create their next shows, but eventually met up again in 1986 to create Cricket for Queen Elizabeth's 60th birthday.
After his collaboration with Rice, Webber worked on a solo compilation Variations with the help of his brother Julian, built after the 24th Caprice of Pagnini. He composed the music for Cats based on T.S. Eliot's poetry; this show was a huge success and has been reprised. However, Starlight Express from 1984 did not receive the same rave reviews. His next show is the longest running ever on Broadway; Phantom of the Opera has been on stage since 1986. He wrote the female lead Christine for Sarah Brightman, who he was married to at the time. His latest big success came in 1984 with Sunset Boulevard, based on the movie of the same name. He created a sequel for Phantom called Love Never Dies in 2009, which was slated to get a North American tour for the 2017-2018 season.
He also wrote a Reqiuem Mass in honor of his father. Songs from this work are favorable amongst British audiences. He became a producer, running shows such as Bombay Dreams and The Woman in White in London and Sound of Music. To find the lead Maria, he was part of the judging panel on the BBC show How Do You Solve a Problem like Maria? in which an unknown actress was selected to play the leading lady. He received an honor from the Kennedy Center in 2006.
He is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the theatre world, and while some accuse him of stealing material from other artists, he has an unmatchable talent and ear for music that has created some of the best music in Broadway and West End history.
A 19 year old aesthete, ailurophile, and aspirant. (Oh, and an English major)