When you are invited to a private zoom conversation with a musical impresario like Andrew Lloyd Webber you cancel all your plans (well, in these Covid days, your one plan!) and hover over the hyperlink “JOIN” with excitement and trepidation, at least one hour in advance!
Andrew’s familiar face comes alive on your phone. OMG! He is looking you straight in the eye and thanking you for joining. I’m melting.
He tells you that he has always been fascinated by music and musical theatre from an early age, thanks to his actress Aunt and his father who himself was a Director of the London College of Music and taught at the prestigious Royal College of Music. But his earlier loves included ar-chitecture! He visited Castles and abbeys and visual objects affected him. This is a factor in his success. For Andrew, the visual production “must fit the music like a glove”. Musicals he has written and produced, and they are prolific, include Phantom of the Opera, with that crashing chandelier, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat and Cats.
Musicals, says Andrew, are a collaborative work melding the best of music, lyrics, choreography, performers, lighting, production, etc…. His mentor, Harold Prince once told him “You can’t listen to music if you can’t see it” and Andrew very much drew on that mantra in all his work.
He is a big fan of the contemporary musicals today such as Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen and Six, the composers of whom he admires. All successful creators love to see each other succeed and he clearly supports and endorses new modern ways of bringing people to the theatre.
When asked about the impact of social media on musical theatre, Andrew claims he may be a little “old” to embrace it fully himself (his daughter, Bella, helps him out there and was probably filming as we spoke) but he does know that it offers talent a remarkable opportunity to be discovered. His advice to young artists was “just perform somewhere and you never know what will transpire”.
Who are his favourite composers? Andrew often referred to Richard Rogers and Hammerstein whose musicals touched and inspired him from an early age, as well as Gershwin, and his favorite opera composers include Britten, Prokofiev, Puccini and Verdi. He also is an admirer of the Indian composer, A R Rahman, known as the Mozart of Madras and who composed the music for Slumdog Millionaire.
On a personal note, Andrew is involved with a lot of philanthropy with his own Foundation, stating that he feels it is important to give back since he has been lucky enough to have achieved so much doing something he is passionate about. His aim is to bring music into schools and for music lessons to be available to all kids. He knows the impact will benefit communities and will result in enhanced academic achievement and behavioral health.
As he awaits the reopening of theatres to launch his latest musical, Cinderella, he has volunteered to participate in the Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine trials himself. If I want things to return to normal then I need to play my part, he states, adding that he is feeling well with no side effects after receiving the vaccine. Now that’s real commitment!
He is truly a beacon of creativity and his work ethic has paid off over the years. He continues to inspire and compose while seeking and collaborating with the greatest talents of music, theatre and film. Thank you Sir Andrew for sharing this virtual time with me!
Entrepreneur & Public Relations Consultant