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Composer. Andrew Lloyd Webber is an English composer known for such musical theater hits as Cats, Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Phantom of the Opera.
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The 1980s saw the end of the Rice-Lloyd Webber collaboration, but it also marked Lloyd Webber’s blockbuster era. First up was Cats, based on the poetry of T.S. Eliot.
Cats opened in London in 1981 and became the longest-running musical in that city’s history, running for 21 years. On Broadway, Cats ran for 18 years. Starlight Express followed Cats, and while it didn’t wow the critics,
it has remained popular with audiences and is still staged in various venues. Lloyd Webber’s next hit, and his biggest to date, was The Phantom of the Opera, based on the French novel Le Fantôme de l’Opéra by Gaston Leroux. Phantom debuted in London in 1986 and has gone on to be the longest-running Broadway show in history. It celebrated its 10,000th performance on Broadway on February 11, 2012.
The 1990s saw the release of various Lloyd Webber productions, including Sunset Boulevard (1994), a film version of Cats (1998) and Whistle Down the Wind (1998).
None of these works were hits, and Whistle was a downright disaster, having its Broadway run canceled before it began after a dismal opening in Washington, DC. An album of covers from the musical was released, however, and the song “No Matter What,” recorded by Boyzone, went on to become an international smash.
The 21st century found Andrew Lloyd Webber writing and producing several works, among them The Beautiful Game (2000), Bombay Dreams (2002), The Woman in White (2004), The Sound of Music (2006), the star of which was discovered via a reality TV show, and Love Never Dies (2010), a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera. All of these works, as most of Lloyd Webber’s musicals seem to, received mixed reviews from critics, and none could duplicate the success the composer had found previously. In 2011, Lloyd Webber unveiled a musical theater version of The Wizard of Oz. The lead was again plucked from a reality TV show, and the production once again opened to a mixed critical reception.
Andrew Lloyd Webber has been married three times and has five children. His hard work and success has made him one of the 100 richest individuals in Great Britain, with his wealth exceeding the $1 billion mark. He currently owns six London theaters, including the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the London Palladium, and the production company Really Useful Group, one of the largest in London. He also founded the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation to “promote the arts, culture and heritage for the public benefit.”
His awards include seven Tonys, three Grammys (including Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Requiem), seven Oliviers, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, two International Emmys, the Praemium Imperiale, the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre and the Kennedy Center Honors Award. He was knighted in 1992 and created an honorary life peer in 1997.
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