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"You have the luck of Croesus on stilts (as my Auntie Vi would have said) if you've had the sort of career, ups and downs, warts and all that I have in that wondrous little corner of show business called musical theatre."
One of the most successful and distinguished artists of our time, Andrew Lloyd Webber has reigned over the musical theatre world for nearly five decades. The winner of numerous awards, including multiple Tonys and an Oscar, Lloyd Webber has enchanted millions worldwide with his music and numerous hit shows, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera--Broadway's longest running show--and most recently, School of Rock. In Unmasked, written in his own inimitable, quirky voice, the revered, award-winning composer takes stock of his achievements, the twists of fate and circumstance which brought him both success and disappointment, and the passions that inspire and sustain him.
The son of a music professor and a piano teacher, Lloyd Webber reveals his artistic influences, from his idols Rodgers and Hammerstein and the perfection of South Pacific's "Some Enchanted Evening," to the pop and rock music of the 1960s and Puccini's Tosca, to P. G. Wodehouse and T. S. Eliot. Lloyd Webber recalls his bohemian London youth, reminiscing about the happiest place of his childhood, his homemade Harrington Pavilion--a make-believe world of musical theatre in which he created his earliest entertainments.
A record of several exciting and turbulent decades of British and American musical theatre and the transformation of popular music itself, Unmasked is ultimately a chronicle of artistic creation. Lloyd Webber looks back at the development of some of his most famous works and illuminates his collaborations with luminaries such as Tim Rice, Robert Stigwood, Harold Prince, Cameron Mackintosh, and Trevor Nunn. Taking us behind the scenes of his productions, Lloyd Webber reveals fascinating details about each show, including the rich cast of characters involved with making them, and the creative and logistical challenges and artistic political battles that ensued.
Lloyd Webber shares his recollections of the works that have become cultural touchstones for generations of fans: writings songs for a school production that would become his first hit, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; finding the coterie of performers for his classic rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar; developing his first megahit, Evita, which would win seven Tonys Awards, including Best Musical; staking his reputation and fortune on the groundbreaking Cats; and making history with the dazzling The Phantom of the Opera.
Reflecting a life that included many passions (from architecture to Turkish Swimming Cats), full of witty and revealing anecdotes, and featuring cameo appearances by numerous celebrities--Elaine Paige, Sarah Brightman, David Frost, Julie Covington, Judi Dench, Richard Branson, A.R. Rahman, Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, Richard Rodgers, Norman Jewison, Milos Forman, Pl cido Domingo, Barbra Streisand, Michael Crawford, Gillian Lynne, Betty Buckley, and more--Unmasked at last reveals the true face of the extraordinary man beneath the storied legend.
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- ISBN-13: 9780062424204
- ISBN-10: 0062424203
- Publisher: Harper
- Publish Date: March 2018
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.65 pounds
- Page Count: 528
The men behind the curtain
In the 1946 Broadway production of Annie Get Your Gun, Ethel Merman famously belted out, “There’s no business like show business.” Music theater legends Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers and Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber would no doubt agree.
Rodgers and Hammerstein transformed the world of sound and stage, lighting up Broadway with one legendary success after another—think Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific and The Sound of Music—and doing their lyrical, tuneful best to revolutionize musicals in the 1940s and 1950s. Villainy, tragedy and romance colored their productions, creating a new mix of sentiment and gravitas, studded with catchy, memorable tunes and innovative melodies.
Come backstage in Todd S. Purdum’s Something Wonderful as he introduces the musical stars and up-and-comers of the day—Mary Martin, Yul Brynner, Julie Andrews and Gene Kelly, to name a few. Become part of the Big Black Giant (show business’s apt moniker for the audience) and live the drama of opening nights, when anything could happen—and often did, from train wrecks to triumphant debuts. Discover the complexities of the duo’s very different personalities and their decades-long partnership, all tied into the entangling business of Broadway. It’s all here in Purdum’s book. From describing the real-life moment that inspired “Some Enchanted Evening” to detailing the drafts for “Edelweiss,” Purdum has produced Something Wonderful indeed.
The iconic composer Andrew Lloyd Webber celebrates his 70th birthday with the publication of his memoir, Unmasked. Filled with wit, self-deprecating humor and dollops of gossip, Lloyd Webber chronicles his decades of work in musical theater. The prolific composer (Evita, Cats, Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard, among others) claims Richard Rodgers as his hero, and like him, Lloyd Webber has become rich, famous, controversial and revered. Knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1992, he has earned seven Tonys, three Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Oscar.
Lloyd Weber goes behind the scenes during a time when the Beatles were changing 1960s London and the song “MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris first fused rock with orchestral music. Lloyd Webber ran with the idea of applying this new sound to a musical, while friend and lyricist Tim Rice took his story material from the Bible. Together they created Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. While some critics were agog at such seeming irreverence, audiences loved the sound and lined up for the shows.
“Even if I haven’t got near to writing ‘Some Enchanted Evening,’” Lloyd Webber modestly concludes, “I hope I’ve given a few people some reasonably OK ones. I’d like to give them some more.” Wouldn’t that be something wonderful?
This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.