Andrew Lloyd Webber may be feeling like he can’t make musicals anymore, but the hope is that he will continue to do so. Even with the rising costs to stage productions, having Webber’s name on a marquee definitely helps business. He stated in a newspaper recently that it has been over two decades since he has had a hit musical, and he is not sure if his new production Stephen Ward will make a lot of money. As he contemplates lowering the curtains on his career, it’s time to take a look back at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s five greatest musicals.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
When this came out in 1968, it was the beginning of a long collaboration between Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. They crafted a quick story of Joseph to be performed in 20 minutes for a school. It then became so popular that they added more to it, and it expanded to two hours.
This ode, to one of the most beloved figures in Argentinian political history, started as a concept album. However, with the success of the song Don’t Cry for Me Argentina, it propelled interest into a musical, and in 1978, the story of Eva Peron premiered. It touched audiences everywhere with her humble beginnings to her rise to power and laboring for people’s rights.
After the end of the Webber-Rice era, audiences were introduced to the feline world. Webber loved the book Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats as a kid, and immediately knew he wanted to write a musical about it. Opening in 1981, Cats went on to become the longest-running musical ever in London, going on for 21 years. It was a staple on Broadway, lasting 18 years. All it took was to write a play about the world of cats.
Jesus Christ Superstar
After Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Rice and Webber decided to keep it going in 1971 with a religious theme. This was the first time the two decided to create the music first before even writing the play. They would continue this form of recording the music then producing the play for the rest of their time working together. Jesus Christ Superstar was Webber’s first play to premiere on Broadway.
Phantom of the Opera
The music playing on the organ alone gives people the chills. Andrew Lloyd Webber came out with this tale based on the French novel in 1986. Phantom of the Opera became the longest-running play for Broadway, and celebrated 10,000 shows in 2012. It is also the most successful musical ever, bringing in over $800 million for Broadway. Audiences still can catch Phantom of the Opera in London and New York.
With these five great musicals, Webber has definitely put his stamp on musicals. By incorporating pop music into his shows, it paved the way for all kinds of audiences to enjoy a musical. After looking back at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s five greatest musicals, it would be very hard to imagine him not working on a project anymore, enriching lives with song.
By Renayle Fink