No one dominated musical theater in the 1980s quite like this British-born composer. The decade started with a little blockbuster known as “Cats, ” best known for “Memory,” the song that Betty Buckley turned into Broadway gold. Then came “Starlight Express,” the rock extravaganza that brought roller skates to the West End and the Great White Way, and if that weren’t enough, “Phantom of the Opera,” with its gigantic chandelier, became the longest-running musical in Broadway history.
In the ’70s, Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar,” written with his collaborator of choice, Sir Tim Rice, launched his stratospheric success. And “Evita” enjoyed a queenly reign so long that it overlapped for a period with “Cats.” Nor would any theater composer sneeze at Webber’s success in the ’90s with the Tony-winning musical “Sunset Boulevard,” which starred Patti LuPone (the original Eva Peron in “Evita”) in London and Glenn Close in New York.
With the proceeds of his massive stage fortune, Webber has become a prominent theater owner in London. And he has continued to find ways to extend the popular reach of his art form, most recently by attracting TV viewers to follow his search for the stars of new West End productions of “The Sound of Music” and his own (with Rice) “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
Number crunchers will have their work cut out for them in tallying the statistics of Webber’s career, which has earned him multiple Tonys and Grammys as well as an Oscar for the song he and Rice wrote for the 1996 film version of “Evita,” starring Madonna. Critics may be ambivalent about his penchant for gargantuan spectacle and sentimentality, but audiences around the world have shown an insatiable appetite for his crowd-pleasing artistry.
|1973||Best Original Song Score and/or Adaptation||Jesus Christ Superstar||Nomination*|
|1996||Best Original Song||"You Must Love Me" from Evita||Win*|
|2004||Best Original Song||"Learn to Be Lonely" from The Phantom of the Opera||Nomination*|