Andrew Lloyd Webber (ALW) Has Brought a Lot of Shows to Broadway. Some Have Done Well, Others Have Faltered. Here is the Top 10 list of Andrew Lloyd Webber Shows And How Well They Did on Broadway.
Andrew Lloyd Webber Has Brought a Lot of Shows to Broadway. Here Is The Top Ten:
10. Aspects of Love
Re-teaming with some of his previous collaborators, Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote this adaptation of the David Garnett novella of the same name, with lyricists Don Black and Charles Hart. The story delves into a variety of romantic entanglements among a French actress, her fan, her fan’s cousin, her fan’s uncle and his uncle’s mistress.
Show Debuts on Broadway in 1990
The Broadway production opened at the Broadhurst Theatre on April 8th, 1990 and quietly closed on March 2nd, 1991, following 22 previews and 377 regular performances. Critics were not kind to Aspects and the financial flop— it grossed $16 million but lost its entire $8 million investment— drew attention to the musical for all the wrong, well, aspects.
The show was nominated for several Drama Desk and Tony Awards but did not win any prizes at either ceremony.
9. Song and Dance
Song and Dance marked a bit of a departure for Webber as it comprises one act of a more conventional song cycle (with lyrics by Don Black and additional lyrics by Richard Maltby Jr.) and one act, whose story is conveyed completely through dance.
The connective tissue comes in the form of a conceptual narrative, one that tackles the romantic misadventures of an English girl in New York and Hollywood.
Show Debuts on Broadway in 1985
While the Broadway incarnation, which played 17 previews and 474 performances on Broadway from September 18th, 1985 through November 8th, 1986, did not receive much critical acclaim, Bernadette Peters was categorically lauded for her indelible and dynamic performance. In his New York magazine review, crotchety critic John Simon called Peters an impeachable peach of a performer.
Song and Dance grossed a modest $13 million, was nominated for 8 Tony Awards and Peters took home the coveted prize of Best Actress in a Musical.
8. Jesus Christ Superstar
This show is loosely based on the biblical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The sung-through rock opera with lyrics by frequent collaborator Tim Rice, delves into the complex relationship among Judas, Jesus and a community of disciples.
Famous for its purposeful anachronisms, the modern sensibility and groovy soundscape of the show are part of its mass appeal.
Show Debuts on Broadway in 1973 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre
A concept album led to the original Broadway staging, which opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on October 12th, 1971 and closed on June 30th, 1973 after 711 performances.
The Mark Hellinger Theatre Gone, But Not Forgotten
The Mark Hellinger Theatre is the only Broadway theatre that Andrew Lloyd Webber’s shows have appeared in that no longer exists. That theatre was sold and became the Times Square Church in 1991. The Hellinger has long been considered one of the best and most beautiful Broadway theatres for musicals and its closure was a great loss to Broadway.
Jesus Christ Superstar Garners Mixed Reviews at the Hellinger
The ambitious rendering of such sacred material was met with mixed reviews, and ultimately came up empty at the 1972 Tony Awards.But the sleeper show proved to be a global phenomenon long term.
By 1980, the Gospel according to Webber and Rice had grossed more than $237 million worldwide.
Broadway Revival in 2000
A Broadway revival, which was mounted in 2000 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 2000, opened to mixed reviews. The production ran for a total of 161 performances. A second revival hit the boards in 2012 at the Neil Simon Theatre, which closed after 140 performances and grossing $11 million.
Live Televised Concert Version of the Show
Jesus Christ Superstar was resurrected once again on Easter Sunday in 2018, when NBC aired a live televised concert version of the show.
The Emmy-winning critical darling featured a mix of contemporary musical pop stars like John Legend as titular Jesus and Sara Bareilles as lovelorn Mary Magdalene, with Broadway baby Brandon Victor Dixon as Jesus’ betrayer Judas and heavy metal headbanger Alice Cooper as King Herod.
7. Starlight Express
One of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s more notorious enterprises, Starlight Express is often reduced to its most salient element: roller skates.
With lyrics by Richard Stillgoe, Starlight follows Rusty, a young but past-his-prime steam engine who partakes in a championship race all in hopes of impressing a girl, er, a Pearl: a first class observation car.
Webber and Stilgoe collaborated with Cats director Trevor Nunn to coalesce disparate storylines from several abandoned projects. Designer John Napier is credited with the infamous skating idea.
Show Debuts on Broadway in 1987
The Broadway iteration bowed at the cavernous Gershwin Theatre, where it ran from February 24th, 1987 until January 8th, 1989, having played 761 regular performances and 22 previews.
Notable cast members from the Broadway production include Jane Krakowski (Dinah the Dining Car) and Andrea McArdle (Ashley the Smoking Car). Starlight mostly came up short at the Tonys but John Napier did take home the prize for Best Costume Design. It grossed more than $42 million on Broadway.
Guinness World Record Holder
Fun fact: Starlight Express has been running in Bochum, Germany since 1988, in a theatre purposely built for the show. It holds the Guinness World Record for most visitors to a musical in a single theatre.
6. Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Deriving from the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, this sung-through musical with a libretto by Tim Rice, Joseph dreamt his way to Broadway in 1982. Set in Those Canaan Days, the score invokes several pastiche musical styles including French ballad, Elvis style rock, country western, 1920s Charleston, jazz, 1970s go-go, and calypso.
Show Debuts on Broadway in 1982, Revived in 1993
The story of Joseph and his tribe of jealous brothers played the Royale Theatre from January 27th 1982 until September 4th 1983, for a total of 747 performances. Pop culture icon David Cassidy took over the titular role in March of 1983.
A revival opened on Broadway at the Minskoff Theatre where Joseph played for 231 performances. The show ran from November 10th, 1993 to May 29th, 1994. The cast featured soap opera star Michael Damian and grossed $14 million.
Notable Cast Members Including Joan Collins!
Both the original and revival productions amassed several Tony nominations but came up empty at the awards ceremony. Other noteworthy cast members in various domestic and international productions include Donny Osmond, Andy Gibb, Sam Harris, Debbie Gibson, Jodi Benson, Richard Attenborough and even Dynasty villainess herself, Joan Collins in the role of Mrs. Potiphar.
5. Sunset Boulevard
Out of all of Webber’s musicals, this show is based on the most famous and iconic source material: the 1950s Billy Wilder film Sunset Boulevard.
With lyrics and book by Don Black and Christopher Hampton, Sunset centers on Norma Desmond, a silent screen star of days gone by. Desmond cannot accept her obsolescence and as she dwells in the past (and in her decaying mansion), a chance encounter with young screenwriter Joe Gillis sets her on a path of rejuvenation and redemption.
Show Debuts on Broadway in 1994 Without LuPone
With a scandal more outrageous than the plot, Patti LuPone was fired from the show and famously did not transfer to Broadway from the original London production. Instead Glenn Close originated the larger-than-life role of Desmond on Broadway.
The show, which opened with the second-highest advance in Broadway history at the time with $37.5 million, played the Minskoff Theatre from November 17th, 1994 until March 22, 1997, after 977 performances.
Limited Broadway Revival in 2017
In an unusual turn, Glenn Close reprised her role as diva Desmond for the Broadway revival of Sunset, which played the Palace Theatre from February 2nd, 2017 until its limited run ended on June 25th, 2017. The total gross receipts for both productions exceed $107 million. A long awaited feature film, also starring Close, is seemingly still in the works.
Controversial Tony Awards
Many believe Sunset Boulevard won its Tony Awards by default as the dismal season for musicals meant little or no competition. Smokey Joe’s Cafe (a jukebox musical) was the only other Best Musical contender, Rebecca Luker (Showboat) was Close’s only fellow Leading Actress nominee and neither the Book nor the Score categories had any other nominees besides Sunset Boulevard.
4. School of Rock
While he might not have seemed the obvious choice to adapt the 2003 Mike White slacker comedy starring Jack Black as a slovenly unemployed rock singer who pretends to be a substitute music teacher at a prep school, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s collaboration with lyricist Glenn Slater and bookwriter Julian Fellowes proved to be a solid hit.
School of Rock is one of Webber’s only musicals to start in the US before heading to the West End, citing the more relaxed American child labor laws as the reason.
Show Debuts on Broadway in 2015
School of Rock started previews on November 9th, 2015th and ran until January 20th, 2019, for a total of 1,340 performances. The feel-good, family friendly comedy grossed just over $160 million. Critics and audiences warmed to the show’s heart and humor, both of which contributed to its healthy run.
In the role of Dewey Finn, leading man Alex Brightman also made an impression, inhabiting the charm of Black but making the character his own. Jack Black himself attended a performance and complemented the whole cast for making him cry, laugh and rock.
With book and lyrics by Tim Rice, the sung-through musical chronicling the life and times of Argentine first lady Eva Peron, originated as a concept album in 1976. It landed on Broadway in 1979, where it not only made a star of its Tony winning leading lady Patti LuPone but Evita was also the first British musical import to win the Tony Award for Best Musical.
Show Debuts On Broadway in 1979
Evita, the tuneful show featuring Don”t Cry For Me Argentina, one of Webber’s biggest hit songs, opened at the Broadway Theatre on September 25th, 1979 and closed on June 26th, 1983, after 1,567 performances and 17 previews.
While met with a mixed critical reception, the original Broadway production virtually swept the Drama Desk Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awards, and The Tony Awards.
Madonna Stars as Evita on the Big Screen Version in 1996
So successful was Webber and Rice’s retelling of Eva Peron’s colorful biography, a feature film starring Madonna was released in 1996. The film was nominated for five Oscars, winning in the Best Original Song category for the newly penned You Must Love Me.
Broadway Revival in 2012
The 2012 Broadway revival starring Latin pop star Ricky Martin as the beleaguered narrator based on Che Guevara, garnered several Tony nominations but did not take home any statuettes. The revival played 26 previews and 337 regular performances before closing in the red, having grossed just over $52 million.
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a 1939 poetry collection by T.S. Eliot, served as the foundation for Andrew Lloyd Webber’s feline fantasia otherwise known as Cats.
Equal parts revue and concept musical, the sung-through show with music by Webber and lyrics by Eliot, Richard Stilgoe, and Trevor Nunn, has a relatively simple plot: the Jellicle cats gather at the Jellicle Ball to decide which cat will ascend to the rarified and exclusive Heavyside Layer.
Show Debuts on Broadway in 1982
Cats debuted on Broadway at the Winter Garden Theatre on October 7th, 1982. The show came in with an impressive $6.2 advance in ticket sales. The most expensive show ever mounted at that time at $5.5. million, it recouped its investment in under a year.
Cats reigned at the top of the list of longest running musicals for many years, though it now sits in fourth place behind The Lion King, the revival of Chicago and Webber’s other juggernaut The Phantom of the Opera. Wicked will likely move ahead of Cats in the very near future.
Notable actors who have appeared in various American and global productions of Cats include Elaine Paige, Betty Buckley, Liz Callaway and Sarah Brightman. Actress Marlene Danielle remained in the Broadway company for its entire 18 year run, playing Demeter and Bombalurina.
The show made a significant economic impact on New York City during its heyday in addition to generating a massive amount of theatrical employment. The show finally closed on September 10th, 2000, following an historic run comprising 15 previews and 7,485 regular performances.
The original production grossed upwards of $388 million dollars. Worldwide gross receipts show a gross of over $3.5 billion by 2012.
Show Revived on Broadway in 2016…
On July 31st, 2016, the Memory lived again, as a revival of Cats inhabited the Neil Simon Theatre for 16 previews and 593 performances, closing on December 30th, 2017.
Given The Movie Treatment in 2019
Like Evita, Cats was adapted into a major Hollywood film. The cinematic version starred entertainment heavyweights James Corden, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, Ian McKellen and Jennifer Hudson. But for all that star power, the film, released in 2019, was an epic flop dismissed by audiences and critics alike, apparently causing Webber to get a therapy dog.
The Memory Lives On, Now and Forever
The mixed critical reception to the stage version didn’t seem to affect its longevity. Its legacy is long and extends beyond the statistics. Grizabella’s 11 o’clock number Memory remains a massive standalone hit and has been recorded by the likes of Streisand, Manilow and Mathis. By certain metrics, some may consider Memory to be the most successful song from a musical.
Cats won 7 Tony Awards out of 11 nominations, including the prize for Best Musical in 1983, as well as the Grammy Award for Best Musical Theatre album.
1. The Phantom of the Opera
Perhaps Webber’s most well-known musical, The Phantom of the Opera began performances on January 9th, 1988, and though still currently running, has announced plans to close on February 18th, 2023, after an historic 35 year run at the Majestic Theatre.
Set in the Paris Opera House, The Phantom of the Opera (with lyrics by Charles Hart and Richard Stilgoe, book by Webber and Stilgoe) portrays a haunting obsession of the titular disfigured musical genius, with Christine Daae, the young soprano he mentors and covets desperately.
Critical Praise, Awards Darling
Critical reviews of the lavish masquerade were mostly positive, audiences showed up in robust fashion, and awards season did not disappoint. Phantom virtually swept the Drama Desk Awards, Outer Critics Circle Awards and Tony Awards, including the Best Musical prize for the latter. Surprisingly, it did not win Tonys in the Book or Score category.
Major Cultural Impact
Besides the now iconic title, the mask-and-rose logo as well as the lush, melodic and repetitive score have made their mark worldwide. Beyond the title song, the score features many tuneful self-contained songs including Think of Me, All I Ask of You and The Music of the Night.
By transcending the Broadway genre into broader popular culture, these new standards hearken back to a time when theatre songs were the hits of the day. Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Susan Boyle, Donny Osmond and even Kelly Clarkson have put their spin on them.
Major Economic Impact
While Phantom’s closing certainly marks the end of an era— thirty-five years, almost 14,000 performances, and a projected gross of $1.3 billion– its departure is nothing to grieve. The show made a lot of people a lot of money not only on Broadway but domestically and globally too.
In fact, the blockbuster can take credit for being the biggest individual source of income and jobs on Broadway and in American theatrical history.
Phantom on the Screen
As is wont with successful Broadway musicals, a Hollywood film adaptation was made, this one directed by Joel Schumacher. The movie opened in December of 2004..
While Broadway mainstay Patrick Wilson played Raoul, other major roles were portrayed by film stars: Gerard Butler starred as the masked musician, Emmy Rossum as the beleaguered soprano, Miranda Richardson played Madame Giry and Minnie Driver rounded out the cast as Carlotta.
Love Never Dies
Phantom’s sequel Love Never Dies never quite made it to Broadway. Plans to bring it over from London were scuttled.