Let's Get Factual - Andrew Lloyd Webber


It is Show Sunday again, and today I am going to share some information on one of my favourite composers, Andrew Lloyd Webber! He's well known for works such as Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, and most recently, School of Rock. I have known many people from my university who have criticised his works, despite his huge success. However, he is actually the cause of my love for musical theatre. I grew up dancing to Cats in my living room, and playing Starlight Express on repeat. Personally, I find his music full of emotion. His musicals are timeless, and many know him as a genius. Let's find out more about him shall we?

Early Years

Andrew Lloyd Webber was born on 22nd March, 1948, in London. Like many musical prodigies, he was born into a musical family, his father was director of Royal College of Music, his mother was a pianist and his brother was a successful cellist. It's pretty clear where he got his passion and talent from! Webber grew up playing piano, violin and french horn. He began writing songs at the young age of 6. In 1965 he dropped out of a history course to study his passion at the Royal College of Music.

Stage Works

The Likes of Us

The first collaboration with lyricist, Tim Rice, did not go to stage at the time it was written. However, this was the first of many works with the lyricist that started when he was only 17, and Rice was 21.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat saw it's debut in 1968, and was a huge success. The musical, which has developed over many decades, is an adaptation of the well known biblical story. Joseph was revived in 1991. Throughout Webber's career there is a theme of particular songs gaining popularity in the general music industry, Joseph was no exception. 'Any Dream Will Do', was performed by many talented singers, most notably Donny Osmond and Jason Donovan, who released it as a single in 1991. It went on to top the charts.

Jesus Christ Superstar

A heavy contributor to the rock opera era of musical theatre; Jesus Christ Superstar was unique for containing pop music in classical operatic form. The musical gave life and soul to the biblical figure. There have been two film adaptations, one in 1973 and another in 1999. I have yet to see the original version, although I grew up watching the 1999 adaption on VHS. Jesus Christ Superstar's most famous song is 'I Don't Know How To Love Him', sung by the character, Mary Magdalene.


Webber had a break in his collaboration with Rice to team up with British playwright, Alan Ayckbourn. Together they created Jeeves, based on the humorous stories about a fictional valet by P.C. Wodehouse, in 1974. Unfortunately it received poor reviews and closed after 38 performances, making it a flop. The pair revisited this musical in 1996, revamping it with a new name, By Jeeves, and new music. It gained a little more success the second time round yet is still not known by many.


Rice and Webber rejoined to create Evita. Beginning as a concept album, it's featured song 'Don't Cry For Me Argentina, became a massive hit. The musical entertained at the London stage in 1978, before moving to Broadway the following year. Evita is a biographical musical, concentrating on the life of Argentine political leader, Eva Peron, the second wife of Argentine president Juan Peron. It was the first British musical to win a Tony Award. A film adaptation, starring Madonna, was created in 1996. Over here in the UK the well known musical is currently doing a revival tour.


A personal favourite of mine, Cats is formed out of the poetry book, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, written by T. S. Elliot. It debuted in 1981 and ran for 21 years. At the time, it was the longest-running musical, although it has now been surpassed by The Phantom of the Opera. Everyone knows Cats thanks to 'Memory', the critically acclaimed song performed by Elaine Paige. Cats is said to be the beginning of the mega-musical,  a type of musical where the set and costumes is considered as important as the music and book. Subsequently, a mass amount of money was fed into the production process, creating a spectacle during the performance to wow the audience. In Cats, hydraulics are used to lift a tyre up into the air, and carry a character into the sky. Although this and the selling of merchandise, is considered to be normal now, it was a ground-breaking development at the time. A video version of Cats was released in 1998. After a successful revival in the West End and Broadway over the last few years, there are now talks of there being a film adaptation backed by Universal Studios.

Song and Dance

Song and Dance is a musical in two acts; the first is told in song form and the second in dance. The song section is named Tell Me On A Sunday, and was written with Don Black. It is about a young British woman's experiences of love in Hollywood and New York. The second act comprises of ballet, performed to Variations, a composition written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Song and Dance debuted in the West End in 1982 and ran for 781 performances. It's most well known song is 'Take That Look Off Your Face'.

Starlight Express

The Apollo Theatre was transformed for this production in 1984, so that performers portraying train carriages could race around the theatre on rollerskates. Although not as successful as it's predecessors, Starlight Express is still one of the longest-running shows in the West End. After it closed in 2002, the show toured many other countries and was adapted into an ice-skating show. I hold this musical very close to my heart as I actually saw it for my sixth birthday. Being my first live musical, I was amazed by it, and have been obsessed with it ever since. The most well known song is 'Rolling Stock', although a personal favourite of mine is 'Only He' which is Pearl's solo. The last UK tour was in 2012; instead of skating around the audience, a film played whenever they were doing a race. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see this production, but hopefully it'll come back soon. It's about time for a revival!

The Phantom of the Opera

Debuting in 1986, The Phantom of the Opera is currently the longest running Broadway show in history. The musical is based on Gaston Leroux's, Le Fantôme de l'Opéra, and contains songs inspired by opera. There are also a few pop songs written in for good measure. The most well known number is 'The Phantom of the Opera', although many other songs are known too. Webber's second wife Sarah Brightman starred as Christine in the original cast, and went on to release a number of solo albums after her success in the musical. Phantom is another mega-musical and features spectacles such as the falling chandelier and boat on a lake. In 2004 a film adaptation was released, and received mixed reviews. The Phantom of the Opera is still running on Broadway and West End today; they even released a DVD of The Phantom of the Opera at the Royal Albert Hall, featuring Sierra Boggess and Ramin Karimloo, to celebrate the show's 25th anniversary in 2011.

Aspects of Love

Based on the novella of the same name by, David Garnett, Aspects of Love is about the complex love affairs surrounding a young man and an older actress. The story line spans over 17 years, with the aspects of love being different relationships with various characters. Webber wrote the music and book for the production while Don Black and Charles Hart wrote the lyrics. It opened at the Prince of Wales Theatre in 1989 and ran for 1,325 performances. Like most of Webber's works, one particular song became popular to the general public; this song being, 'Love Changes Everything'.

Sunset Boulevard

Webber joins with Don Black again to write another successful musical. Christopher Hampton also collaborates with them to write the lyrics and book of the show, based on the Academy Award-winning 1952 film of the same name. Norma Desmond is a faded actress in the silent film era, who dreams of finding stardom again. Sunset Boulevard follows her struggles to relive what she once was, and the tragedy that follows. The original West End production opened in 1993 and starred Patti LuPone as Norma. The show got mixed reviews but still ran for 1,530 performances. It also moved to Broadway and starred Glenn Close. Sunset Boulevard was revived in the West End last year, and subsequently moved onto Broadway, starring Glenn Close all these years later. Over here in the UK there is currently a tour of the show too.

Whistle Down the Wind

Whistle Down the Wind had a shaky start in Washington D.C after opening show was cancelled. However, after some revision, a reworked version of the show was debuted in the West End in 1998, and ran for 1,044 performances. The musical is based on the 1961 film of the same name which is inspired by a novel written by Mary Hayley Bell in 1959. Like many other Webber musicals, Whistle Down the Wind found promotion in the music industry. Boyzone released a version of the song, 'No Matter What', and turned it into a chart-topper. This single put the boyband on the map in the UK, as well as giving Andrew Lloyd Webber publicity yet again.

The Beautiful Game

Debuting in 2000, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton collaborated to create a musical about a group of teenagers growing up during The Troubles in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1969. The musical ran for just under a year, after which it was and reworked in 2008 and renamed to The Boys in the Photograph. Unlike most of Webber's works, The Beautiful Game did not go to Broadway.

The Woman in White

One of the shortest running shows in Webber's history, The Woman in White ran for nineteen months in the West End and only three months on Broadway. The musical is based on the classic novel of the same name written by Wilkie Collins. Webber worked with David Zippel on this musical that debuted in 2004.

Love Never Dies 

A sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies takes place years after the events of the first musical. Webber worked with Glenn Slater on the lyrics. It has also been suggested that this sequel is loosely based on the spin-off novel, The Phantom of Manhattan, by Frederick Forsyth. The original production debuted in the West End in 2010, and starred Sierra Boggess as Christine and Ramin Karimloo as The Phantom. The musical ran from February 2010 to August 2011, a stark contrast to it's predecessor's success. Unfortunately, Love Never Dies never reached Broadway, and hasn't been seen in the UK since it's closing.

School of Rock

School of Rock is the latest musical that Webber has created. He collaborated with Slater to write this adaption of the comedy film starring Jack Black. It was revealed to the world on Broadway in 2015, where it gained positive reviews. It has been running in the West End since last year, and is popular among many. The Original West End Cast included David Flynn as Dewey Finn and Florence Andrews as Rosalie Mullins. The show is appreciated for showing the talents of young children. I have yet to see this production but hopefully I will soon!


Within his career Andrew Lloyd Webber has achieved seven Tonys, seven Oliviers, three Grammys, the Praerium Imperiale, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre, a BASCA fellowship and the Kennedy Center Honor. In 1992, he was knighted, and is often known as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. He was also created an honorary member of the House of Lords in 1997.

In addition to the above, he also owns seven London theatres, including the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the London Palladium. He is also the owner of  one of the largest production companies in London, Really Useful Group.

In his most recent years, he has produced two musical productions, in which he found the starring roles from the general public through a reality TV show. These were, How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? for The Sound of Music, and Over the Rainbow, for The Wizard of Oz. He was also a judge for similar TV shows, I'd Do Anything, and Any Dream Will Do; Oliver and Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Webber also pushes for music and arts in education, and founded The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, which supports arts and music.

Find Out More

That's all you need to know to get started on listening to some of Andrew Lloyd Webber's works! I think it's enough facts for one day. I enjoyed writing and researching one of my favourite composers for this blogpost. It's the first time I've done something wholly factual on this blog, so I'd love to hear your feedback. Is this something you'd like to see more often? And are there any changes I can make so it can be more accessible to you? Let me know your thoughts!

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