'Musicals have got to have a great story': Andrew Lloyd Webber reflects on his illustrious career at special Q&A

'Musicals have got to have a great story': Andrew Lloyd Webber reflects on his illustrious career at special Q&A

Andrew Lloyd Webber reflected on some of the highlights from his illustrious career during a special Q&A on the eve of his 70th birthday.

Lloyd Webber, who turns 70 tomorrow (March 22), was interviewed on stage at The Ivy in Covent Garden.

Last year, he became the only person to equal the record set in 1953 by Rodgers and Hammerstein with four shows running on Broadway concurrently. Two of his shows are currently running in both Broadway and the West End: School Of Rock and The Phantom Of The Opera, with more returning to the UK this year. 

"School Of Rock is really about how music empowers children," he said. "This probably isn’t the night to talk about how I think it’s absolutely disgraceful that music is leaving the school curriculum. I have an initiative to try and plug the gap and we have 6,000 children now, which my foundation supports, who have free music lessons. But what School Of Rock is about is the empowerment that music can give to kids."

Cats' star Nicole Scherzinger paid her own tribute to the composer, delivering a passionate performance of Memory at last night's event.

The song features on Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Platinum Collection, which was released through UMC/Polydor on March 16 in celebration of the composer's 70th birthday. The collection is personally curated and overseen by Lloyd Webber to include classics from his earliest work starting with Joseph. 

"Luckily I had a very supportive record company and a very supportive A&R team on it because there were some very difficult choices," he said. 

The first day of March marked 50 years since Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was first presented at Colet Court School in London in 1968.

"Joseph started in the school - it was written for an end of term school concert and when a group of kids performed it to an audience of bored parents on a Friday afternoon I don’t think Tim Rice and I ever thought that one day it would be playing on Broadway," he laughed.

“What I’d really love to see - and I hope we may be able to get together - would be one night where we could do it again but with children, as it was originally done. It would be great fun. There is a possibility that we might do that this Christmas.

Also in celebration of his 70th birthday, Lloyd Webber’s new autobiography Unmasked was released on March 6 by Harper Collins.  

"If you looked at the album charts in the ‘50s, musicals were always No.1 in the charts," he added. "In fact, the only album ever to have been No.1 for a full British calendar year is [Rodgers & Hammerstein's] South Pacific.

"The one thing to remember about musicals is that they’ve got to have a great story. I think a great story can carry an OK score, but a great score can’t carry a not very good story." 

 

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