NEW YORK — Amidst upheaval within his own Really Useful Group, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has hired an ally and adviser: John Reid, the British music impresario who has guided the career of Elton John through its share of ups and downs, has accepted the job of Lloyd Webber’s manager.
The hire was confirmed in a brief statement issued by Lloyd Webber Wednesday. “I am delighted that John has accepted this new role,” the composer said. “He is one of the most successful creative managers in the world.”
The hiring came during a week in which rumors flew through the theater industry that Really Useful would continue the downsizing it began in London two months ago by slashing or even nearly eliminating the company’s New York staff (Daily Variety March 13).
In recent weeks, the company has announced closings of three productions of Lloyd Webber’s “Sunset Boulevard” (Broadway, London and the North American touring company; a Toronto production, not produced by Really Useful, closed March 9), and the composer’s latest musical, “Whistle Down the Wind,” indefinitely postponed its Broadway run following a tryout in Washington D.C.
The downsizing has been attributed by the company to the absence of new Lloyd Webber projects in development. The statement released Wednesday indicated that Reid will manage the composer’s “creative output,” while Really Useful Group CEO Patrick McKenna will continue to run the business operations. Lloyd Webber owns 70% of Really Useful, with the other 30% owned by Polygram.
Given the upheaval at Really Useful, Reid’s hiring suggests that Lloyd Webber wants an outsider to look after his (as opposed to the company’s) interests.