Andrew Lloyd Webber: the Man of the Modern Musical

Topics: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Tim Rice Pages: 5 (1646 words) Published: April 11, 2013
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Man of the Modern Musical

With over forty-five awards and honors, the musicals of Andrew Lloyd Webber have had a magical effect on people around the world. Still, the question remains: how exactly did Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals affect the modern theater we see today? Well, the modern musical wouldn't exist if not for Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Even as a child, Lloyd Webber was bound to be involved with the world of music. His parents, William Lloyd and Jean Hermione, were a composer and instrumentalist respectively. Not to mention that his younger brother, Julian Lloyd Webber, is an accomplished solo cellist.

At a young age, Andrew was taught to play a multitude of instruments. Whether it be the violin, piano, or French horn, Andrew learned them. In fact, at the age of nine, he had compose a suite of six pieces. Still, that wasn't what made little Andrew the person he is today.

The person we can accredit the Andrew Lloyd Webber we know today is his Aunt Viola. Andrew was fascinated with putting on little “productions” in a toy theater with his aunt and brother. Viola would also take Andrew to various theaters wear the productions she was working in were taking place in.

Andrew continued growing up and when he reached college, he was accepted into Oxford College to study history, but he quit after a year of studying. It was around this time that he met lyricist Tim Rice. It was also at this time that Andrew Lloyd Webber made his first footsteps into the world of success in musical theater.

The duo of Rice and Lloyd Webber teamed up together and wrote a musical entitled The Likes Of Us, based on the true story of philanthropist Thomas John Barnardo. The two searched for backing for the musical, but could find none. Even though the musical's first performance would be delayed until 2005, it was the start of a long work relationship between the duo.

Brushing off their first attempt, the two were excited when they were commissioned to write a piece for a preparatory school. This piece led Rice and Lloyd Webber to create a cantata. After this cantata's second showing, the duo started gaining recognition due to positive reviews from various newspapers.

Due to all the buzz, the duo revised the show, added a few songs, and their first success was born. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a modern retelling of the story of Joseph from the Bible, was transformed into a two-hour long production. This musical combined a myriad of musical styles, such as country, rock and roll, and Calypso. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was performed alongside another musical, Jesus Christ Superstar.

Jesus Christ Superstar started out as an album released two years after Rice and Lloyd Webber's first musical. When initially released in Britain and the United States, it reached the #1 spot on the album charts. The success of this album allowed it to be transformed into a production which was a major triumph on both Broadway and West End.

Still, every success has its failures. That's where the follow-up to Jesus Christ Superstar falls. The musical Jeeves, based on the Jeeves and Wooster novels by P.G. Wodenhouse, was originally worked on by both Rice and Lloyd Webber. After a while though, Rice backed out of the project, claiming that he felt that he “couldn't bring justice” to the original novels. The public must have shared this opinion as well, because the show ran for only three weeks.

Hoping to bounce back from their first real failure, Rice and Lloyd Webber worked together until Rice got the idea for Evita, a retelling of the life of Eva Perón. Like its predecessor, Evita was released as an album to the public. While it didn't attain much recognition in the United States, the album went on to top the charts in the United Kingdom. One of the songs off of the album, “Don't Cry For Me, Argentina”, went on to top the singles charts in the United Kingdom as well.

The musical debuted...
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