Monday 9 November 2020

Andrew Lloyd Webber: not a phantom, live and kicking


No need to detail the devastating effects of the virus on theatres around the world and the difficulties faced by performers, technicians and administrators

One of the bright spots for me has been to see how Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, aged 72, has been so energetic in his response to the situation. He has taken to posting numerous videos on Facebook, starting with responding to fans’ requests and playing his piano from home during the UK lockdown earlier this year, and then to mounting an online campaign to convince the government in London to take steps necessary to allow theatres to open, or at least have a reliable plan for reopening

One of my favourite clips   is from the original home of Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty’s Theatre a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace in London. Sir Andrew has taken advantage of the shutdown to carry out some renovations to the theatre, and we see him in the hollowed out building, with a bare stage and numerous seats removed. He talks about Hal Prince, original director of the show, and how they used some of the Victorian era gadgets which they discovered under the stage in the production

He passionately argues for the importance of live theatre, the uniqueness of the moment, as he says Every performance is different

In another clip shows him promoting his new show, Cinderella, which was due to open this year and is facing a very uncertain future 

This is the label for the clip:

A little surprise for you all. Here is Far Too Late from my new Cinderella, performed by Carrie Hope Fletcher in an empty Her Majesty's Theatre. - ALW

This is a lovely song  where the rising, full of hope melody line seems to contradict the lyric, making the musical effect even more poignant Far too late to sing a love song, you’re in someone else’s arms

The singing is gorgeous, Carrie Hope Fletcher ’s pure voice soars wonderfully, and there he is, age 72, playing his own fabulous music at the piano and in a way that already helps you imagine the orchestral sound that will accompany the song when it finally appears on stage. It's so much more moving to see the performance taking place on this empty stage, bare right to the back wall, with rows of empty seats where an appreciative audience should be  

I am full of admiration for Sir Andrew, as a campaigner for live theatre and for musical theatre in particular, as a composer of some of the most beautiful music for the stage, as a performer, still superb, and most of all, as a decent human being, not only not a phantom, but very much live and kicking.

I play music by Adele, Elton John, Robbie Williams and many more at my regular Cocktail & Piano sessions at the Urso Hotel & Spa, Madrid @hotelurso 

Follow me on Instagram for updates @piano.tjo

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