How to solve a problem like a compilation – my alternative Unmasked

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Unmasled

I make my own suggestions about interpretations of Andrew Lloyd Webber songs that could have been included on his new compilation album Unmasked

“They must have excitement, and so must I”

In a world of Spotify and iTunes and other online music services, compilation albums ought to have died a death. But the enduring success of the Now That’s What I Call Music series puts the lie to that, showing that while the idea of curating your own content is tempting, many of us prefer to let someone else do it for us.

So Andrew Lloyd Webber’s decision to release new anthology Unmasked is a canny one in that respect (read my review here), tapping into the desire to have a nicely pleasant set of musical theatre tunes to pop on in the car. And as with any compilation, it’s as much about what hasn’t been included as what has, that stands out. Continue reading “How to solve a problem like a compilation – my alternative Unmasked”

Album Review: Andrew Lloyd Webber Unmasked: The Platinum Collection

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Unmasled

Andrew Lloyd Webber marks his 70th birthday with a new musical anthology –  Unmasked: The Platinum Collection – taking in shows new and old with some surprises along the way (Beyoncé, Lana del Rey, Duncan from Blue )

“Oh what a circus, oh what a show”

Upon reaching 70 this year, Andrew Lloyd Webber is clearly in a reflective mood and hot on the heels of his autobiography Unmasked released last week, comes this new compilation album Unmasked: The Platinum Collection. Available physically as a 2CD or 4CD version (the latter with a 40 page book of liner notes and tributes), this collection looks back on a career spanning nearly 50 years and features some new twists on the material as well as reminding us of the old favourites.

Over the four discs, 17 of Lloyd Webber’s shows are represented here (Jesus Christ Superstar tops the list with 8 tracks, Evita and Phantom just behind), alongside assorted one-off songs (such as ‘Amigos Para Siempre’ from the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, the Gary Barlow co-write ‘Sing’ from the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee). But for ALW fans it will be the unreleased stuff that makes the mouth water – five new orchestral suites and a smattering of new recordings featuring the likes of Lana del Rey (a winsome ‘You Must Love Me’ and Gregory Porter (a spirited ‘Light At The End Of The Tunnel’. Continue reading “Album Review: Andrew Lloyd Webber Unmasked: The Platinum Collection”

Andrew Lloyd Webber celebrates 70 years with ‘Unmasked: The Platinum Collection’

In celebration of his 70th birthday this March, new compilation ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER: THE PLATINUM COLLECTION will be available March 16th through UMC / Polydor.  

The collection is personally curated and overseen by Lloyd Webber to include classics from his earliest work starting with 1968’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat through his most recent School of Rock. 

Newly recorded songs from superstar artists Nicole Scherzinger (“Memory”, Cats), Gregory Porter (“Light at the End of the Tunnel”, Starlight Express) and Lana Del Rey (“You Must Love Me”, Evita) add to the collection of his cherished works from the past five decades. 

The set also contains recordings by world-class performers such as Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Michael Crawford, Sarah Brightman, Michael Ball, and released for the first time, Beyonce singing “Learn To Be Lonely” from the 2005 Academy Awards with Lloyd Webber accompanying on piano. 

UNMASKED: THE PLATINUM COLLECTION is available as 2 CD and 4 CD editions. The 4-disc version contains an exclusive 40-page book with a personally penned introduction from Lloyd Webber and more in-depth notes on each track, written by respected theatre critic and Lloyd Webber biographer Michael Coveney, together with personally written tributes from Barbara Streisand and Glenn Close among others. 

Pre-order 2 CD Edition

Pre-order 4 CD Edition

Continue reading “Andrew Lloyd Webber celebrates 70 years with ‘Unmasked: The Platinum Collection’”

Review: Beauty & The Beast (A Musical Parody), King’s Head

“What would Jane Austen do?”

Having embraced my inner Scrooge this Christmas by deciding not to see any productions of A Christmas Carol or any pantos either, my resolve was tested by the return of Fat Rascal to the London stage, a young company devoted to create “fresh and funny feminist musical theatre” and whose ode to the vibrator was an unexpected pleasure (ooh-er) last year. This year they’re blessing us with fewer sex toys in the form of Beauty & The Beast (A Musical Parody).

And not just any Beauty and the Beast, a gender-swapped one that gives us a Jane Austen-obsessed Beau, a swash-buckling Siobhan in place of Gaston and a Beast who is no less fearsome for being of the female variety. And though it is in the late-night slot at the King’s Head, bookwriters Robyn Grant and Daniel Elliot never make the mistake of overloading the smut (as many an adult panto is wont to do), preferring instead to just be really, really funny. Continue reading “Review: Beauty & The Beast (A Musical Parody), King’s Head”

Review: La Cage aux Folles, New Wimbledon

“It’s rather gaudy but it’s also rather grand”

 
It doesn’t feel like that long since La Cage aux Folles was strutting its stuff in London as I made several visits to the Playhouse as it rotated its main cast on a regular basis (Douglas Hodge and Denis Lawson, Philip Quast and Roger Allam, John Barrowman and Simon Burke) but it has a good few years. So the time is clearly ripe for a revival and Kenwright and co clearly agree as they’ve mounted the show’s first ever UK tour.

And with John Partridge and Adrian Zmed at the helm, it remains as gloriously entertaining and heart-warmingly lovable as ever. A story about love and acceptance always has things to teach us, gay or straight, now more than ever and the story of St Tropez nightclub owners Georges and Albin is a touching one as through dealing with Georges’ son’s fiancée’s parents’ homophobia, they learn more about themselves and their own identities. Continue reading “Review: La Cage aux Folles, New Wimbledon”

Review: Rhythm of Life, St James

“Puts a tingle in your fingers and a tingle in your feet”

A week bookended by cabaret turns from Debbie Kurup can be no bad thing indeed and whilst we covered the catalogue of Kander + Ebb earlier in the week, it’s now the turn of Cy Coleman to get the tribute treatment with Rhythm of Life, the world premiere of a revue which has the added bonus of 5 never-performed-in-London-before songs from the Cy Coleman archive. Joining Kurup was Marti Webb, John Barr and Cedric Neal with musical director Michael Webborn leading them from his piano.

And when focused on the music, this is some enchanted evening indeed (to borrow a phrase). Coleman’s compositions include such classics as Sweet Charity, On The Twentieth Century and City of Angels (recently seen at the Donmar Warehouse), I can’t honestly include Barnum in that number… Lesser known works also shine in this format, the best songs cherry-picked from shows like The Life and Seesaw, demonstrating the wide range of collaborators with whom he worked across his career. Continue reading “Review: Rhythm of Life, St James”

Review: Tell Me On A Sunday, St James

“Tell each other to find all we’re looking for, and more”

Despite its enduring success as (arguably) one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s finest works, in collaboration with lyricist Don Black, the great and good never quite seem to believe that the original hour-long pleasures of Tell Me On A Sunday are sufficient on their own. In its first staging, Marti Webb delivered it as one half of Song and Dance; the revival with Denise Van Outen was extended with a suite of new songs which awkwardly tried to update it; and now as Webb makes a return to the show at the St James Theatre, it finds itself lumbered with a first-half West End showcase which never feels like anything more than unnecessary padding. 

And it really is unnecessary – the hour-long show is perfectly encapsulated, whipping through the trials and tribulations of an Englishwoman in New York who is running away from a broken heart in the UK but finds herself unable to escape romantic drama. And Webb owns its every emotional contour – the aching sadness of the title song, the yearning romance of ‘The Last Man In My Life’, the anguished dexterity of ‘Let Me Finish’. Lloyd-Webber’s song-writing is rarely better than here and Black’s lyrics have a well-honed simplicity which allows for a directness of feeling, especially when given such transcendental grace as here. Continue reading “Review: Tell Me On A Sunday, St James”