You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Lloyd Webber countersuit faces music, dismissed

NEW YORK — In a 26-page decision jammed with analyses of oscillations, arpeggios and descending tetra chords, a U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a $78.09 lawsuit brought by Andrew Lloyd Webber against a Baltimore-area songwriter whom Lloyd Webber claimed stole portions of the more famous composer’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” score.

In her decision filed Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Shirley Wohl Kram ruled that Lloyd Webber and his Really Useful Group “failed to establish” that Repp copied Lloyd Webber’s “Close Every Door” when Repp wrote a song called “Till You” in 1978. Kram concludes that although the two songs “share some musical devices,” such “tools are among the most common devices used in music.”

The bizarre lawsuit — $78.09 was the amount Lloyd Webber estimated Repp made from the licensing and sales of “Till You” — dates back to 1990. Repp initiated a suit claiming Lloyd Webber appropriated “Till You” in writing “Phantom Song” of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Lloyd Webber countersued, saying that the “Phantom” theme had actually been based on an earlier version of “Close Every Door” from his own “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” and that it was Repp who stole the music when he wrote “Till You.”

Indeed, Lloyd Webber won the first round of legal wrangling in 1994 when Kram dismissed Repp’s lawsuit before it could go to trial. But last June, when Repp petitioned to have Lloyd Webber’s countersuit dismissed, the same judge rejected his petition, and a four-day non-jury trial commenced on Sept. 16.

Musicological and lyrical analysis — both songs use “door” metaphors — presented at the trial failed to convince the judge that the songs are overly similar. In her decision, she wrote that “the thrust and ambiance of ‘Till You’ and ‘Close Every Door’ are entirely different.”

Lloyd Webber’s office claimed the judge’s decision as a victory of sorts. A statement released by a Lloyd Webber spokesman said “the decision clearly accomplishes Lloyd Webber’s goal of validating his authorship” of “Close Every Door” and the “Phantom Song.” “By successfully arguing that similarities in this melodic phrase do not constitute copying, Repp has shot himself in the foot on his ‘Phantom Song’ claim,” the statement said.

At the trial, Repp denied having heard “Close Every Door” until 1982, four years after he wrote “Till You.” Kram ruled that the court was given “no persuasive reason” to doubt Repp’s claim.

Repp, who composes and records popular liturgical music (“Till You” contained lyrics from the Book of Luke), told Daily Variety on Tuesday that the latest court decision frees him to appeal the dismissal of the original lawsuit against Lloyd Webber. “I am absolutely determined to go on with it,” he said.

Lloyd Webber and Really Useful are considering an appeal of the most recent decision.

More Scene

  • Noah CentineoNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Kids’ Choice Awards 2019: JoJo Siwa, Noah Centineo Take on Bullying

    This year’s Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards was full of positivity and encouragement to be yourself. DJ Khaled, known for his upbeat mantras, hosted the 32nd annual awards ceremony alongside JoJo Siwa at USC’s Galen center. Siwa accepted the award for favorite social music star. Siwa said in her acceptance speech, “I get hated on every [...]

  • Tina KnowlesSoul of Nation: Art in

    Jay-Z, Tina Knowles Celebrate New 'Soul of a Nation' Exhibit at Broad Museum

    “This show is so important. I mean, it’s our history — and it’s a very important part of our journey,” Tina Knowles Lawson said about Friday night’s opening of the exhibition “Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963 – 1983” at the Broad Museum in DTLA. “I’m just so impressed [...]

  • Jordan Peele'Us' film premiere, Arrivals, New

    Jordan Peele Explains the Meaning Behind the 'Us' Michael Jackson Reference

    Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us” is filled with pop culture references, from “Jaws” to “Goonies.” But the most divisive might be right in his opening sequence. Warning, minor spoilers ahead. The movie about a couple (played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) and their children being hunted and brutalized by a mysterious family that looks just [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Nick Offerman Amy Poehler

    'Parks and Recreation' Cast Talks Possibility of a Revival at 10th Anniversary Reunion

    For one night, Hollywood felt a little like Pawnee. The cast of NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” reunited at PaleyFest on Thursday in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary. The whole Pawnee gang showed up: Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Jim [...]

  • Andy CohenThe Shops and Restaurants at

    Andy Cohen to Receive Vito Russo Award at GLAAD Media Awards

    Mazel, Andy Cohen! Bravo’s late-night talk show host is set to receive the Vito Russo Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 4 in New York City. Sarah Jessica Parker will present him with the award, which is named in honor of GLAAD founder Vito Russo. The annual award goes to openly [...]

  • Variety TV Summit Europe

    Variety TV Summit Europe Coming to London on June 13

    Variety’s TV Summit Europe will coincide with London Tech Week this year, returning to the city on June 13. The international conference will be held at the Royal Lancaster and is co-produced by global events company Informa’s KNect365 division, the world’s largest business-to-business organizer. The one-day summit will focus on the intersection of content and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content