REVIEW: Andrew Lloyd Webber – Musical Celebration at Live At Chelsea ★★★★★
Andrew Lloyd Webber is the most successful composer of musical theatre in history with professional productions of his shows alone having sold more than 330 million tickets worldwide. In 2017 when Sunset Boulevard joined School of Rock, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, Andrew Lloyd Webber became the only person to equal the record set in 1953 by Rodgers and Hammerstein with four Broadway shows running at the same time.
Named the “fifth most powerful person in British culture” by The Daily Telegraph in 2008, Andrew Lloyd Webber has received a number of awards including a knighthood, a peerage for service in music from Queen Elizabeth II, three Grammys, an Academy Award, fourteen Ivor Novello Awards, seven Olivier Awards, a Golden Globe, a Brit Award, Kennedy Centre Honours, Classis Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music and was awarded the Tony for Lifetime Achievement at this year’s Tony Awards last week. There’s no doubt he’s “more or less single-handedly reinvested the musical” as lyricist Don Black once said.
It’s not often that so many of the world’s best talent come together to lend their voices to a dazzling musical theatre celebration and every song and performance was exceptionally executed with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra beautifully performing a note perfect rendition of each song, conducted by John Rigby.
Starting the evening was Tyrone Huntley singing the title song from Jesus Christ Superstar, followed by recording artist Imelda May singing Evita’s Another Suitcase In Another Hall and Madalena Alberto with Buenos Aires and Don’t Cry For Me Argentina. Next up was original Christine in the American debut of Love Never Dies Meghan Picerno singing the title song and Original Australian Phantom Ben Lewis singing ‘Til I Hear You Sing. Following this the audience was treated to ITV Superstar winner Ben Foster singing Gethsemane.
Act Two started with the ‘Entr’acte from Sunset Boulevard, Michael Xavier singing the title song and powerhouse Ria Jones perfecting As If We Never Said Goodbye. Then we were back with Jesus Christ Superstar as Tyrone Huntley performed an energetic and vocally stunning Heaven On Their Minds. Following this soprano Meghan Picerno and Raphael Bellamy Plaice performed a tear inducing Pie Jesu from Requiem before current West End Phantom Ben Lewis and Celia Graham took the stage to sing the title song from Phantom Of The Opera and Alfie Boe perfected Music Of The Night in the most beautiful version of this song I have heard to date. Ending the evening was Beverley Knight astounding the audience with Memory from Cats followed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra playing what sounded like a newly orchestrated The Cats at the Jellicle Ball punctuated by a dazzling fire works display. A fantastic ending to a wonderful evening of musical theatre.
Live at Chelsea’s Andrew Lloyd Webber celebration was an extravaganza like no other. It was such a treat to hear The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra play through Lloyd Webber’s scores and the performances of his songs were nothing short of beautiful. Whatever the state of the world, you can always step into one of Lloyd Webber’s shows and be transported by his music to a fading movie stars house in LA, the Paris Opera House, a junkyard overrun by cats, the last five days of Jesus’ life or even zoom around a child’s toy train set. Lloyd Webber’s ability to let an audience escape and be encompassed by his music is like no other musical theatre composer and this concert was a lovely reminder why so many people around the world love and need musical theatre in their lives. Happy Birthday Andrew!
Reviewed by Stuart James