A history of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals on Broadway
The British composer took inspiration from the Bible, novels, movies, fairy tales, and more for shows from The Phantom of the Opera to Bad Cinderella.
Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber has written himself a place in the record books. His musical phenomenon The Phantom of the Opera has bragging rights as the longest-running Broadway show of all time. But like the title Phantom’s subterranean lair below an opera house in Paris, this composer’s career runs deep.
Theatre is all about dramatic entrances and exits. Shortly before Phantom ended its run on April 16, 2023, Webber premiered his latest Broadway musical, Bad Cinderella, which riffs on a classic fairy tale. In between those two shows, he has written scores with an array of lyricists and won three Tony Awards for those efforts – plus a lifetime achievement honor in 2018.
Look back through his career highlights and all the premieres of his musicals on Broadway.
1971: Jesus Christ Superstar
Webber’s rock-flavored account of Jesus’s life began as a concept album before debuting on Broadway. The show, famous for hits like “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” opened to controversy from religious groups. Nonetheless, Webber won a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Composer. The show had second, third, and fourth comings in 1977, 2000, and 2012.
Webber looked to Argentine history – and actress Patti LuPone – to tell the downcast-to-Dior life story of leader Eva Perón. He took home a Tony Award for his score and carved hits like “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” into showtune history. Evita ran from September 1979 to June 1983, and the show received a Broadway revival in 2012.
1982: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Webber sought inspiration from a well-known biblical tale for this uplifting show that was nominated for seven Tony Awards and ran 747 performances. Decades before recycled fashion was trendy, Dreamcoat was revived in 1993.
Lloyd Webber merged music with text from T.S. Eliot’s Old Possums’ Book of Practical Cats – plus new lyrics by Trevor Nunn and Richard Stilgoe – into a show about felines and redemption. He notched his second Tony win for Best Score and made “Memory” an indelible song. The show ran 7,485 performances and is the fourth-longest-running Broadway show ever. Cats pawed its way back to Broadway in 2016, and that revival lasted a respectable 593 performances of its own.
1985: Song and Dance
This show about romance and commitment had a split personality. Act 1 followed a woman (played by Bernadette Peters, who won a Tony) who was undecided about two men. Act 2, told through dance, traced the steps of a man with relationship issues.
1987: Starlight Express
Roller skates! They’re the first things you think of regarding this fantastical show. The cast wore them to play various train cars — like Dinah the dining car (Jane Krakowski), and Ashley the smoking car (Andrea McArdle) — in the race of their lives. The show chugged along for 761 performances.
1988: The Phantom of the Opera
Obsession is a two-way street. The masked Phantom, a music teacher, is fixated on a young soprano who loves someone else, only intensifying his passion. Broadway audiences became equally enraptured with songs like “Music of the Night” and “All I Ask of You” — and the entire show. The legendary musical ended its record-setting run on April 16 after 35 years and nearly 14,000 performances.
1990: Aspects of Love
Love doesn’t run smoothly for the people in this musical, who are caught up in complicated relationships. The show gets off with a bang; the opening song “Love Changes Everything” is a keeper that sticks in your head for days. The show ran 377 performances on Broadway.
1994: Sunset Boulevard
Webber tapped the classic 1950 movie about fictional silent film star Norma Desmond, who’s desperate for a comeback. Powerhouse songs including “With One Look” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye” led to the composer’s third Tony win for Best Score. Glenn Close originated the role of Norma on Broadway and reprised it in a 2017 revival.
2001: By Jeeves
Adapted from books by P.G. Wodehouse about the misadventures of a gentleman and his ever-ready valet, this chipper musical collaboration with Alan Ayckborn ran 73 performances.
2005: The Woman in White
Wilkie Collins’s spooky Victorian potboiler inspired Webber here. The show, which ran for 109 performances, concerns a love triangle involving two sisters and their art tutor, along with the enigmatic title figure.
2015: School of Rock - The Musical
The 2003 Jack Black film about a substitute teacher who helps students prepare for a Battle of the Bands — but isn’t who he says he is — was the source for this kid-forward musical. The show pounded out a message about the power of rock for 1,309 performances.
2023: Bad Cinderella
This show arrives following a run in London, with some retooling and a title change. This contemporary take on a classic fairy tale, originally called Cinderella like its source material, considers what it means to be beautiful. Linedy Genao took on the title role, and Carolee Carmello was her icky stepmom in the show at the Imperial Theatre.
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