Lloyd Webber redefined musical theater

Composers 'Phantom' sequel premieres March 9

Sometimes it’s a little hard to believe Andrew Lloyd Webber is just one person. The composer behind “Cats,” “Evita,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Sunset Boulevard” is sometimes credited with putting the boffo back in Broadway’s B.O. He has also won an Oscar, a Golden Globe, six Tonys and three Grammys, including one for the recording of his challenging “Requiem” Mass. Maybe Andrew is one composer, Lloyd is another and Webber is the one who eats and sleeps.

Born in 1948 in Kensington, England, Lloyd Webber was just turning 20 years old when his musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” received its first staging in March 1968. The show — only 15 minutes long at the time — was workshopped, staged and restaged until it finally made it to Broadway some 14 years later. In the meantime it earned Lloyd Webber and his “Joseph” partner Tim Rice enough attention to put together a breakout musical: the five-Tony-winning production of their rock opera “Superstar,” which opened on Broadway in 1971 and ran for 711 performances.

Lloyd Webber’s music defies easy description, but its most notable characteristic may be its powerful connection to the listener’s heartstrings; every song feels charged with emotion. It’s no surprise, then, that Lloyd Webber’s biggest hit is his adaptation of Gaston Leroux’s 1910 melodrama “The Phantom of the Opera” — a show that’s still running and has grossed more than $760 million on Broadway alone.

Now, as he enters the fifth decade of a most prolific and popular career, Lloyd Webber revisits “Phantom” by way of Frederick Forsyth’s prose homage to his original production, “The Phantom of Manhattan.” Set 10 years after the events of “Phantom,” the new musical “Love Never Dies” preems March 9 on the West End and is set to open on Broadway this November, with book and lyrics by Glen Slater and Broadway vet Jack O’Brien at the helm.

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