For a music lover like myself who has watched “The Phantom of the Opera” over 30 times in locations around the world from New York City, Hong Kong, London, Sydney to Los Angeles, meeting Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber in person is probably one of the most exciting and unforgettable experiences of my life. During my last trip to London, I attended a workshop hosted by The Other Palace https://www.theotherpalace.co.uk which showcased an idea for a new musical called “Unmasked.” The workshop included a collection of songs composed by Baron Lloyd Webber throughout his career from “Cats,” “Sunset Boulevard,” “Starlight Express” to “The Phantom of the Opera.” The cast included John Owen-Jones (who has performed over 1000 times as the Phantom, himself).
Needless to say, the performance was nothing short of superb — especially when we were told by Baron Lloyd Webber that the show was put together in just 10 days. The venue itself was a small, intimate place — which meant that I was able to get up close and personal with Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber — at least that’s how I felt when he explained to us about how the show will be put together and that his team was still trying to explore different ideas to bring it alive to musical theatre.
During the workshop, Baron Lloyd Webber shared his personal experience as a composer. I do not doubt that most of us would agree that the hugely successful and beloved show, “The Phantom of the Opera,” is probably his most popular musical. It premiered in 1986 and is still one of the most often performed musicals to date in both London and on Broadway. It is also one of the top grossing musicals — with over 5.6 billion USD in ticket sales. The show has also been seen by over 150 million people in 27 countries. Baron Lloyd Webber’s muse for the musical was soprano Sarah Brightman who was married to him at the time. In this musical, the audience can feel the passion inspired by Baron Lloyd Webber’s love of Ms. Brightman.
According to Baron Lloyd Webber, everything went wrong on the day of the official opening of “The Phantom of the Opera” from technical and mechanical failures to operational mishaps. He also knew that critics could be awfully judgemental of Ms. Brightman’s performance. Fortunately, everything went well during the premiere. Over the last three decades, the musical has brought many tears and much happiness to music lovers around the globe.
After discussing “The Phantom of the Opera,” Baron Lloyd Webber moved on to describe how he gets ideas for his musicals. As a composer, myself, I know for a fact that melodies come and go and need to be ‘seized’ when they are there in our heads. Nowadays, one can just use the recording functions on our phones to record the tune instantly.
To further explain, Baron Lloyd Webber cited that one of his songs from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” was actually an inversion of a tune from Paganini. Baron Lloyd Webber started playing Rachmaninov’s “Rhapsody” based on a theme of Paganini 18th variation. It dawned on me how he came to write the song by just playing the theme “backwards”.
Another heartwarming story shared by Baron Lloyd Webber was how he first met the legendary Frank Sinatra. When he was a young man, Andrew Lloyd Webber visited the USA and stayed at The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. When he found that he could not sleep at 2am, he decided to go down to the lobby bar. While he was ordering a drink, a person invited him to join him and some friends. As he turned, Baron Lloyd Webber found out that the person who invited him was none other than hollywood royalty Frank Sinatra himself!!!
They started chatting and Sinatra told told the waiter, “Bring me the grand piano.” Baron Lloyd Webber was amazed and wondered how the water was going to bring a “GRAND piano” to the middle of the bar. Nevertheless, it was Frank Sinatra, afterall, and who could say ‘no’ to him? At the end of the story, Andrew Lloyd Webber shouted, “Bring me the piano,” and a stand up piano was brought up to him on stage. “I cannot play well on the piano but let me share a tune with you,” he told us. He then started to play a new tune. I was immediately touched by his music. The melody went straight into my heart.
Meeting Andrew Lloyd Webber in person is probably one of the highlights in my life as a musician and composer. He was at ease, funny — and most importantly– authentic and genuine in sharing his love of music, his ideas about musical theater and about life. Meeting Baron Lloyd Webber was not just a highlight of my life — it was like meeting an old friend who is so pure and full of passion.
Unmasked – collection of works.. Put together is just 10 days
Meeting Franc Sarnitra at the pennisular hotel in bevelry hills – bring me the piano
Love nevers dies failed
Phantom of the opera – everything went wrong at final rehearsal and turned out to be fine. Nevrous. Pouring out his love to sarah brightman – knowing she will be criticized, michael crawford
Paganini inversion of his song – somewhere in time make it his own by inverting the tune
Funny, relaxed and at ease and very approachable
The other palace? Small but intimate
Cast from Cats, Sunset blvd, Phantom (1000 times – john ), a girl from hong kong. Fell in love with phantom (phantom and christine), school of rock, joseph and technicolour dream coat
Played new tune on piano
Own most of the theatres in london
Rock and roll pictures
Sunset blvd – when he was in LA . falling forgotten star