Andrew Lloyd Webber is the most famous—and most controversial—composer of musical theater alive today. Hundreds of millions of people have seen his musicals, which include Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and Sunset Boulevard. Even more know his songs.
Lloyd Webber’s many awards include seven Tonys and three Grammys—but he has nonetheless been the subject of greater critical vitriol than any of his artistic peers. Why have both the man and his work provoked such extreme responses? Does he challenge his audiences, or merely recycle the comfortable and familiar? Over three decades, how has Lloyd Webber changed fundamentally what a musical can be?
In this sustained examination of Lloyd Webber’s creative career, the music scholar John Snelson explores the vast range of influences that have informed Lloyd Webber’s work, from film, rock, and pop music to Lloyd Webber’s own life story. This rigorous and sympathetic survey will be essential reading for anyone interested in Lloyd Webber’s musicals and the world of modern musical theater that he has been so instrumental in shaping.