On Song: The Lloyd Webber Story

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The Independent Culture
Casting For a composer he sometimes displays a strange inability to recognise the musical demands of his roles. The vocally challenged Roger Moore quit Aspects of Love prior to the opening. Lloyd Webber sacked Faye Dunaway during rehearsals for Sunset Boulevard implying that her vocal chords were fadin' away. Unsurprisingly, she sued.

Careers Elaine Paige might never have become a household name were it not for the "Search for a Star" casting of Evita. Sarah Brightman, who had earlier "Lost Her Heart to a Starship Trooper" lost her heart to him and fast forwarded her career with Phantom. Jason Donovan and Donnie Osmond (No... Yes!) have him to thank for the resurrection of their careers in Joseph. Anyone who is anyone (with the exception of Alma Cogan, who was unavoidably detained) served time in Sunset Boulevard to bolster the

box office.

Ideas He knows a good subject when he sees one. Handel was probably the last composer to spot the commercial potential of Joseph and his brethren and people weren't exactly queuing up to make musicals out of TS Eliot's poems when he dreamt up Cats.

Pioneer He and his erstwhile lyricist Tim Rice were the first to release albums of the songs in advance of the show with Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita. That way, your audience goes in humming the tunes.

Business Acumen He's rich. Very. And no fool. Curtain up time of Aspects of Love was moved later so that those failing to get into Phantom could nip round the corner to see the other (emptier) show.

Reputation Longs to be taken seriously. Witness his Requiem and the fact that he offered Whistle Down the Wind to the National Theatre. Four- times collaborator Trevor Nunn suggested that it might be a trifle unseemly for the country's flagship theatre to spend its subsidy staging the work of the country's wealthiest composer.

David Benedict

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