All the world's a stage
The map: From Sapporo to Stockholm, one British export always does boffo box office: the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh musical. Illustration by Andrew Lovell
Saturday 15 August 1998
Critics may have renamed Lloyd Webber's most recent offering Piffle Down the Wind, and, on previous occasions, rated the performance of the sets above that of the actors, but no one can deny the awe-inspiring numbers who flock to see these musicals every year. (Few people can claim to have escaped either sitting through or appearing in a school production of Lloyd Webber's Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat or Mackintosh's orphan Oliver!).
Together, Mackintosh and Webber are now the undisputed musicals dream team, with a score of co-productions - all stemming from one famously long lunch in 1980 which has gone down in the annals of Soho schmoozing.
Worldwide, you are now just as likely to hear the theme from Phantom being quietly hummed on the streets of Tokyo as you are in the seemingly endless queue of foreign tourists and coach parties outside the show's London home at Her Majesty's Theatre.
Phantom, seen already by an estimated 52 million people and with takings in excess of pounds 1.5bn, permanently haunts Basle in Switzerland in a purpose- built pounds 15m theatre. Neighbouring Germany, however, is home to the most obsessive Lloyd Webber and Mackintosh fans. In the town of Bochum, there is a dedicated home for Starlight Express. Meanwhile, near Frankfurt, Sunset Boulevard has a hotel attached to its own pounds 25m home.
The scale of these international ventures is breathtaking. Mackintosh's Les Miserables is the world's most popular musical. It has played in 26 countries from Iceland to the Philippines and completed over 25,000 performances, with an estimated audience in excess of 40 million. There have been more than 30 cast recordings, while the video of the 10th anniversary Royal Albert Hall concert has sold more than one million copies worldwide. And then there are those sets: the plunging chandelier from Phantom of the Opera - made up of 6,000 beads, 3m wide and weighing one tonne - the staircase from Sunset Boulevard, Starlight Express's careering train tracks through the audience. Touring productions of Phantom require 27 articulated lorries to transport the set.
Interestingly, cultural idiosyncrasies are taken into consideration when these shows are restaged. Audiences at Cameron Mackintosh's production of Oliver! in Hungary hear the poor little orphans dreaming, not of cold jelly and custard, but of goulash soup and chestnut puree. In Poland, by contrast, the delicacy craved is huge cakes and pork chops, in Finland, fish, in Sweden, meat pudding. Still want more?
Life & Style blogs
Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
Is Apple's iCloud safe after leak of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities' nude photos?
Porn film production 'must stop in Los Angeles' after actor tests positive for HIV
Anal sex study reveals climate of 'coercion'
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
- 5 Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
£40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: SQL Technical ...
£85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...
£55000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead C# Develo...