Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber



  • (1948 - ) British composer of stage musicals,whose work has enjoyed amazing success in the commercial theater.In 1996 - 97 Lloyd Webber had six productions running simultaneouslyin London's West End, when a revival of Jesus Christ Superstarjoined five other shows already earning nearly 25% of all West Endbox-office receipts between them. These were Cats (1981),The Phantom of the Opera (1987), Sunset Boulevard(1993), and revivals of both the roller-skating spectacular StarlightExpress (1984), and By Jeeves (1975; lyrics by Alan Ayckbourn).Lloyd Webber's personal fortune has been estimated at well over £700million. He was raised to the peerage in 1997.

    Lloyd Webber dropped out of Oxford after meeting lyricistTim Rice during his first term. The two established their reputationsby collaborating on the biblical musicals Joseph and the AmazingTechnicolor Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar (1971)but it was the more mainstream success of Evita (1976) that made themrich. Lloyd Webber's second wife (of three), the singer and dancer SarahBrightman, starred in most of his musicals of the 1980s.

    Aspects of Love (1989) was a more intimate piece, whilethe £3-million Sunset Boulevard was a spectacular reworkingof the classic Billy Wilder film. Subsequent works, which have notenjoyed success on the same scale, include Whistle Down the Wind(1997), The Beautiful Game (2000; book and lyrics by Ben Elton),and The Woman in White (2004). In 2006 Lloyd Webber became aperhaps unlikely TV star when he appeared as a judge in How Do YouSolve a Problem Like Maria?, a reality show devised to find a leadinglady for his new production of The Sound of Music. Any DreamWill Do (2007) repeated the format for a revival of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Love Never Dies, a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, received its West End premiere in 2010.

    Despite its huge popularity, the critics have often been less thankind to Lloyd Webber's work, finding it shallow and unoriginal. Lloyd Webber believes his success is at least partly owing to the fact that "the standard of musical being offered is, regrettably, not good. Broadway is worse than ever. Over the last ten years, I've been hoping a new team will emerge andthings will change, but it hasn't happened." In 1992 the Master of the Queen's Music, Malcolm Williamson, commented bitterly:

    Lloyd Webber's music is everywhere, but so is Aids.

    Lloyd Webber's production company, The Really Useful Group,currently owns seven of the leading West End theaters.