Quick Change Reviews - The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber
In March 2020, theatres were forced to close their doors, shut down the concession stand and light their ghost light. Curve in Leicester was seemingly unoccupied for over a year, before little by little the team and its company returned to the stage.
After several triumphant live streamed events and an exciting opening preview, Curve officially welcomed audiences back home for a celebration of The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Photo by Ellie Kurttz
Having closed their doors during the UK premiere of the touring production of The Phantom of the Opera, it is as though the Phantom himself had spent the last fifteen months residing in the theatre; keeping it safe and keeping the magic alive. It is only right that a show devoted to the life and work of ALW, a man pioneering the safe return to our stages and who ignited the love of musicals in many, is performed to mark the reopening.
The mystifying energy in the venue was as though Phantom had spent his lockdown enchanting the hallways, and roaming the orchestral pit, before hypnotising a socially distanced, but full, audience.
With so many months without the tonic of live musical theatre, it becomes even more obvious how engrained in society Lloyd Webber's productions are. Curve’s The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber is the perfect reminder of this. An extensive setlist is segmented by pre-recorded videos of the man himself warmly sharing stories and memories as if to old friends reminiscing.
As a result, the production is wonderfully nostalgic; a trip down memory lane unlocking the very reason the theatre community was so desperate to return and keep the songs alive to be performed and adored for years to come.
The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber stars seven impressive cast members, performing alongside a full band that ensure each song is rousing with passion; all gleefully sharing their relationship with the repertoire. Magdalena Alberto’s Evita section toyed with power and vulnerability, delivering an emotive ride of defiance in honour of Eva Peron. Meanwhile, Ria Jones proudly reprised her role as Norma Desmond commanding the stage with glamourous essence. Recent graduate, Shem Omari James earned the title of ‘Superstar’ in his performance of the song itself. Following an injury during previews, Karen Mavundukure performed with the aid of a wheelchair but opened act two with an unstoppable rendition of ‘Light At The End of The Tunnel’.
Photo by Ellie Kurttz
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s fantastic insight into the stories that inspired his scores were humble, gracious and at times delivered to his own expense. Rather memorably, was a sly tongue in cheek remark towards the infamous musical of his, Cats. The section, however, was joyous. Tim Rogers’ Mr Mistoffelees was irresistibly fun and deliciously upbeat, accompanied with some magic gimmicks.
Of course, The Phantom of the Opera was a much anticipated, stand out section. Jessica Daley’s formidable range made her the perfect Christine alongside Tim Howar whose ‘All I Ask of You’ dominated with enchantment.
Curve have once again delivered an innovative show that ignites imagination. Intelligent lighting from Ben Cracknell and unmistakable direction from Nikolai Foster ensures that the stellar cast each have their moment truly in the spotlight.
The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber is a show filled with emotion. There is childlike play remembering amdram performances paired with advocation for the importance of teaching music in schools - what better way to demonstrate than Curve Youth and Community members joining the high octane drama for 'Stick It To The Man' from The School of Rock?! - tragic romance stories told in rock and opera, demonstrations of how our favourite song tunes evolved into what they were today through knockbacks, luck and challenges, and many poignant moments for reflection.
Andrew Lloyd Webber tributes the lives lost to the pandemic by sharing his experiences of grief in writing the beautiful, ‘Pie Jesu’, balanced bittersweetly with the friendship anthem, ‘Amigos Para Siempre’ that surely only outlines a monumental career of composing.
Photo by Ellie Kurttz
Though stripped back, with toy steam trains and Argentinian flags to transport us to our dramatic settings, it is credit to the entire team and their boundless talent that audiences find themselves fully immersed on a whirlwind journey celebrating the music that unites millions of people around the world and unifies generations.
No fan of musical theatre should miss out on this glorious feast.
The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber plays at Curve 7 - 19 June, tickets are available, here