Celebrating Our Memories With The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber
It is quite fitting really, that one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most famed compositions is entitled "Memory".
The very essence of an ALW composition is to stir the very notion.
Whether you're a theatre obsessive, lover or novice; it's likely that your life has been influenced in some way, shape or form by a piece of Lloyd Webber's music. The critically acclaimed works have been highly regarded for their part in redefining the musical. For generations, the soundtracks of iconic shows have been enjoyed by people around the world.
Performing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat is almost a rite of passage for many school children, whilst The Phantom of the Opera has hypnotically haunted famous theatre districts for decades. Standout songs like "Don’t Cry for Me Argentina" and "Sunset Boulevard" have become staples on any Songs From Shows concert worth their name.
Hailed for his hearty, extensive repertoire to accompany curiously innovative and deeply imaginative shows alive with high-intensity drama and rousing grandeur; Lloyd Webber's brilliant mind creates songs that tell the stories of the misunderstood in a way that crafts a beautiful world just for them.
From tender declarations and powerful ballads to playful rebellion and biblical rock operas; his songs are for lovers, for dreamers and for believers to dive right into their emotions.
Over the last couple of weeks, Curve have been celebrating The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the man himself; who has spent the last year fighting relentlessly for the theatre community.
I spoke to cast members, Madalena Alberto, Tim Howar and Tim Rogers about their relationships with the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
What is your earliest memory of an ALW show or song, and how does it make you feel today?
Madalena: My earliest memory is of watching the VHS tape of Cats, back in Portugal. I feel very proud that I was in that production a few years back at the London Palladium.
Tim H: I saw Evita in the West End in 1981. I loved the drama and political statement, as well as the gorgeous melodies and direction by Hal Prince.
Tim R: I played Jesus in Superstar when I was in high school over 20 years ago… It’s awesome to be singing ‘Gethsemene’ on stage at Curve today!
If you could take on a role in an ALW show, who would you portray and why?
Madalena: One day I’d like to play the role of Norma Desmond! I love the tragedy, the vulnerability and hope of that woman.
Tim H: I’d love to perform Phantom again but in Love Never Dies, to continue his story of redemption and love.
Tim R: I’ve played Jesus and Judas in Superstar, but I still fancy a crack at the Phantom as it was my very first professional show.
Madalena Alberto by Ellie Kurttz
What is the greatest lesson or takeaway you have learned from an ALW work?
Madalena: The virtuosity of his work, in that the songs are never as easy as they might seem; whether musically or what we can extract from them from a story-telling point of view.
Tim H: To trust the melody and the band to carry the drama through. Together is the way forward.
Tim R: Every song tells a powerful story. Sometimes they appear simple but they are always laced with truth.
Describe your ALW "goosebump moment"…
Madalena: I think it might be when he (Andrew Lloyd Webber) first came to watch me play Eva Peron and he held my hand backstage of the Orchard Theatre in Dartford.
Tim R: When Andrew personally asked me to help develop the role of the Phantom in Love Never Dies. It was a dream come true!
If you could have been a ﬂy on the wall at any ALW-related event; such as a writing session or ﬁrst audition, or performance, what would it be?
Madalena: I guess I’d love to have met the very young Andrew and be part of his creative thinking when ﬁrst starting; especially in his earlier work! It was so out there. Who would have ever thought of a rock opera named Jesus Christ Superstar? Or a whole musical about steam trains or cats!
Tim R: Him and Tim Rice forging out Jesus Christ Superstar.
Tim Rogers by Ellie Kurttz
What is your ALW love story?
Tim H: Auditioning in front of Andrew, Jim Steinman, Donna Deseta and Hal Prince for Whistle Down the Wind on Broadway and getting the role! Also, working with Hal in Phantom in London. I was awe-struck and deeply humbled.
Tim R: The blood-soaked vest, dirt and tatts in Whistle Down the Wind proved pretty popular at the time!
Who is your favourite ALW character and what would you most like to converse with them about?
Madalena: Eva Peron because she was so complex. I would have loved to have had a glimpse of the real Eva and not the perceptions that anyone might have of her.
Tim H: Oooh! Probably the Phantom, just to clear up the backstory.
Tim R: I think Jesus/The Man in Whistle is so intense. I’d like to find out what crime he was accused of.
Which ALW number holds the biggest place in your heart?
Tim H: For me it is ‘Any Dream Will Do’ and ‘The Music of the Night’, as my mother and daughters, and now son and wife, have all been part of my journey on and off stage during my wonderful time in these shows. Thanks, family!
Tim R: ‘Gethsemene’ and ‘Til I Hear You Sing’ are pretty close.
How does it feel to be back at Curve for The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber?
Madalena: It’s my third time at Curve, as I was here for Piaf and for On Your Feet. It’s an incredible building and has a caring and welcoming production house. It is always a pleasure to be here, and after being away from theatre for such a long time, it’s a joyous occasion.
Tim H: It feels like a tremendous breath of spring air. I am deeply grateful to Nikolai, Andrew and to Curve for being brave in the face of a very uncertain time and believing in us and live theatre.
Tim R: It is so thrilling to be singing again, and singing my favourite songs with a lovely, incredibly talented group of people at such a wonderful venue. Bliss!
What is your favourite moment in the show?
Madalena: I am in awe of all my colleagues, so watching them perform up close. Also, the incredible lighting rig and design. It is a wonderful feeling to up there on stage performing these iconic songs.
Tim H: The acapella opening. I grew up performing in choirs and there is something truly inspiring about the overtones created by choral singing, and it’s cheeky and fun, too!
Tim Howar by Ellie Kurttz
The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber plays at Curve 7 - 19 June, tickets are available, here