The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber

Civic Theatre, cnr of Queen Street & Wellesley Street West, Auckland

03/05/2011 - 08/05/2011

St James Theatre 2, Wellington

03/05/2011 - 08/05/2011

Production Details

Celebrate the magic of the music 

“… for now, if not forever, Lloyd Webber is a genuine phenomenon…”

A new theatrical event
featuring Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most timeless songs
performed by the current stars of musical theatre…
Blake Bowden, Alinta Chidzey, Andrew Conaghan, Michael Cormick, Trisha Crowe, Delia Hannah, Kirsten Hobbs, Shaun Rennie

He’s been described as the master of musical theatre, the maestro of musicals, and a theatrical force to be reckoned with. His musicals have been seen by hundreds of millions around the world, translated into dozens of languages and won every major entertainment award.

Now New Zealand is set to fall in love once more with THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER in a stunning new theatrical event that will tour New Zealand in 2011.

After more than 40 years, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music continues to have the extraordinary ability to touch an audience, lifting them to new heights of exhilaration and emotion after just a few bars of music. THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, which will feature a sensational cast of musical theatre talent, celebrates the master composer with a New Zealand tour, beginning in Auckland on 3 May 2011 before touring to Wellington and Christchurch.
Directed by one of Australia’s leading directors, Stuart Maunder, this theatrical event will feature some of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s most timeless songs from Eva Peron’s passionate ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’, to the classical masterpiece ‘Pie Jesu’, from the rock favourite ‘Superstar’ to the breathtaking new ‘Love Never Dies.’ 

Internationally respected and ever-popular Musical Supervisor, Guy Noble, will lead live musicians and some of Australia’s most acclaimed performers – Blake Bowden, Alinta Chidzey, Andrew Conaghan, Michael Cormick, Trisha Crowe, Delia Hannah, Kirsten Hobbs and Shaun Rennie – taking the audience on an unforgettable journey through the vast array of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s memorable repertoire. Having starred in recent productions of Cats, West Side Story and Mamma Mia!, the multi-talented cast will perform numerous Lloyd Webber classics.

Director Stuart Maunder said, “The emotional force of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s songs is undisputed. We want to celebrate the extraordinary variety of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s output and the emotional force of his songs by presenting an intimate affair with all the emotion, all the tunes whilst taking you on a musical journey – one that is stylish, inventive and surprising and also offers some rare insights into the mind of this genius creator.”

Through state-of–the-art technology, audiences will be swept from the avenues of Broadway to the magnificence of Eva Peron’s Argentina, to the speedways of Starlight Express, in a dazzling journey through the many settings of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s greatest works. All the ‘big’ moments from Evita, The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Sunset Boulevard, Woman in White to the current Love Never Dies will be there.

Lloyd Webber has been referred to as “…one of the most prolific-ever composers of musicals…” (The UK Daily Mail). He has composed 16 musicals, several film scores, a Latin Requiem Mass and continues to compose every day. His musical Cats was the longest-running musical on Broadway, only to be overtaken by another of his hit musicals The Phantom of the Opera. Lloyd Webber was knighted in 1992, and his awards include seven Tony’s, three Grammys including Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Requiem, seven Olivier’s, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, two International Emmys, the Praemium Imperiale, the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre and The Kennedy Center Honor. He was knighted in 1992 and created an honorary life peer in 1997.

Venues & Dates Auckland The Civic, The Edge from 3 May
Wellington St James Theatre from 10 May
Christchurch Isaac Theatre Royal from 17 May   

THE MUSIC OF ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER is presented in Australia by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and David Atkins Enterprises in association with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Really Useful Company Asia Pacific.

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and David Atkins Enterprises have been responsible for numerous outstanding productions over the years including Miss Saigon, Singin’ In The Rain, The Phantom of the Opera (Singapore 2007 season, in association with The Really Useful Company Asia Pacific), Stomp, Swan Lake On Ice, We Will Rock You, Abba Mania and West Side Story to name but a few.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Really Useful Company Asia Pacific is a wholly owned subsidiary of the London based The Really Useful Group Ltd (RUG). RUCAP is responsible for RUG’s activities in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, including producing, co-production and licensing. RUCAP productions in Australia have included Aspects of Love, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, Sunset Boulevard, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, and in May 2011 a new Australian production of the continuing story of The Phantom of the Opera, called Love Never Dies.


VENUE The Civic, The Edge, Auckland
SEASON Tuesday 3 May – Sunday 8 May 2011
TIMES* Tuesday – Friday 8pm
Saturday 2pm & 8pm
Sunday 1pm & 6pm
*Performance times may be subject to change without notice.
BOOKINGS 0800 BUY TICKETS (0800 289 842) or 09 357 3355
Group Bookings 10+ SAVE!
Telephone Group Bookings 09 357 3354
or email  

VENUE St James Theatre, Wellington
SEASON Tuesday 10 May – Sunday 15 May 2011
TIMES* Tuesday – Friday 7.30pm 
Saturday 1.30pm & 7.30pm
Sunday 1pm & 6pm
* Performance times may be subject to change without notice.
BOOKINGS 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 538) or 04 384 3840
Group Bookings 10+ SAVE!
Telephone Group Bookings 04 384 3842
or email  

VENUE Isaac Theatre Royal, Christchurch
SEASON Tuesday 17 May – Sunday 22 May 2011
TIMES* Tuesday – Friday 7.30pm

Saturday 1.30pm & 7.30pm
Sunday 1pm & 6pm
* Performance times may be subject to change without notice.
BOOKINGS 0800 TICKETEK (0800 842 538) or 03 377 8899
Group Bookings 10+ SAVE!
Telephone Group Bookings on 03 379 0597
or email

The unexpected triumph of the look

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 12th May 2011

The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber is a silky, well-oiled musical revue and is a must for any Lloyd Webber fan. Thirty three songs in all and sung by a cast of eight, all of whom have the necessary voices and the pop opera romanticism and flamboyance to carry them off successfully without the support of magnificent settings and glamorous costumes.

After one of Lloyd Webber’s rare flops, Jeeves, the great American director Hal Prince told him that you can’t listen to music if you can’t look at it. A musical, he realized, had to look right. And so does a revue with songs taken from lavish musicals (collapsing chandeliers, romantic rubbish dumps, railway trains and Hollywood mansions) that everyone knows. And this is where The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber is unexpectedly triumphant.

Two large screens and a smaller one perched on top dominate the stage. Three flights of moveable steps are the only other objects on stage the entire performance. Between the two screens the excellent, hard-working orchestra can be glimpsed.

The programme acknowledges that the ‘Screen Creative Content Production’ was created by the Spinifex Group which has turned the show into a dazzling visual treat. At first I thought the continuously moving images would distract from the singers but the images are so well chosen and so imaginatively presented that they complemented the songs and the singers to perfection, climaxing with a thrillingly edited collage (from the movie) of the famous scene from Phantom.

I know one doesn’t go to a Lloyd Webber musical expecting a barrel of laughs but one or two comic songs (from the revised and more successful By Jeeves perhaps?) wouldn’t go amiss and might surprise the audience as well as give relief from the onslaught of dramatic arias which all seem to end with the singer, arms outstretched as if crucified, holding on to a very long note. The brief attempts at humour in one or two of the songs are crass and camp.

Delia Hannah did not let her numerous fans in the audience down as she sang the major hit songs with great authority and dramatic flair: Memory, With One Look, Tell Me on a Sunday, and, ofcourse, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina. The last song is performed with swirling images of Evita Peron and adoring Argentinean crowds, images as apposite to the song as are the beautiful wintery images that accompany I Believe My Heart from The Woman in White. They look absolutely right.
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Lloyd Webber’s best songs performed with heartfelt emotion

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 09th May 2011

With more than 30 songs on offer, musical theatre’s most successful composer is given a comprehensive retrospective in a package which includes all the blockbuster hits as well as some lesser-known gems.

The little-known works, rescued from various cancelled seasons, provide reassurance that not everything he touches turns to gold and remind us that Lloyd Webber is a hard-working artist who is not afraid to take risks. [More]
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Huge impact celebrated

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 05th May 2011

Lovers of Lloyd-Webber’s songs will leave satisfied and happy, as The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber is jam-packed with the composer’s most well known signature tunes from 14 of his most popular and enduring works.  

The night is in traditional ‘revue’ format (with essentially generic costuming) and also showcases some of his lesser-known songs. Surprisingly, I find these more engaging in the musical variety show presentation, as without the associated memories that come with his famous hits, the comparatively unknown songs can be enjoyed without inevitable theatrical expectation.

While the upside of this revue is the rich quantity (27 items, some of which are in medley format), it is at times ‘sensory overload’ to hear so many signature tunes one after the other, rather than ‘in situ’.

For the most part Stuart Maunder (who devised and directed the work) programmes the song order well, and gives us time to digest magic moments. Occasionally, the ‘gear-change’ is awkward, such as the sharp segue from All I Ask Of You (beautifully sung by Andrew Conaghan and Trisha Crowe, with flawless vocals and palpable on-stage chemistry) into a mash-up of the mischievous tunes from Cats. Not only did it gatecrash the love duet, is it very odd to see these famous feline characters perform in short black dresses and high-heals (women) or trousers and sensible shirts (men).

For me, the most successful items, transcending smoothly into this format, were duets and ballads that can be interpreted with broader meaning. Some of the character or plot driven songs performed out of context and in inappropriate costumes (Cats), however, messed with my musical theatre sensibilities, even though the production clearly has it’s own generic identity.

In terms of staging, the dominant feature is a collection of AV screens, of various sizes and jagged angles, dynamically edged with multiple rows of bud-lights, and set between the band and the performer’s space. (Set & Costume Designer & Digital Media Art Director Julie Lynch). They make a strong first impression when the curtain is lifted. I find them more effective as an artistic device when Lynch plays a kaleidoscope of colours and patterns, rather than the more obvious imagery (such as flying crucifixes during Heaven On Their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar, or slow-moving lead-light windows of religious figures doing Pie Jesu). However, by the end of the night, they feel more like a continuous promo for Lloyd-Webber’s shows, as iconic artwork is repeated over and over.

While it’s a tricky task to find the right generic look for songs which are so varied in style and context, Lynch’s variations on the ensemble’s clean black look (a mix of short dresses and long black trousers) are not always that inspirational. The women’s black shirts, added for some items, are unflattering and look like they are straight off the sales rack at Glassons. The garish silver jackets and dresses, saved for the finale song, Superstar, look more like Jackson 5 reunion tour outfits.

While choreographer Elizabeth Hill’s cutesy ‘BoyZone’ work in No Matter What from Whistle Down The Wind was a crowd favourite, some of her choreography is less smooth and stylish. For example, the reoccurring pelvic motion from Shaun Rennie in On This Night of 1000 Stars was simply too much by the end of the song. While Andrew Conaghan and Alinta Chidzey strike up a lovely natural rapport in I Believe My Heart from The Woman In White, the sudden lift at the end of seems gratuitous.

Musical Director Paul White’s versatile band of 8 musicians do incredibly well (with the help of some pre-recorded material), given that the vast majority of the material is written for a bigger orchestra. The two woodwind players, Greg Clarkson and Remco Keijzer, cover 8 brass and wind instruments between them, and add fine touches in I Don’t Know How To Love Him and All I Ask of You. White himself is very busy conducting from Keys 1, adding fine styling to One Rock N Roll Too Many and other items. Occasionally drummer Jarrod Bayliss needed a lighter touch.

While sound designer Michael Waters serves the songs well, by ensuring that the lyric and melody have clear clarity at all times, the band often sounds distant and low.

Similarly, Lighting design by Gavan Swift is well defined, clean and smooth, leading the audience’s eye to the singer or ensemble at exactly the right moment to introduce each item.

Everything serves Lloyd-Webber and his songs – there are even a couple of AV segments when the man himself talks about his background, which is an unexpected intimate touch. Thanks to some outstanding Australasian cast members, his songs are celebrated very well and there are vocal highlights a-plenty.

The heavenly sound of Michael Cormick’s soft gentle tenor range starts the night with a spine tingling Love Changes Everything from Aspects Of Love. His vocal quality is the perfect texture for High Flying Adored from Evita, and then later in the night the opens up his full vocal prowess in The Phantom Of The Opera

New Zealand’s own seasoned professional lead lady Delia Hannah performs several powerful ballads including Don’t Cry For Me Argentina from Evita, Memory from Cats and With One Look from Sunset Boulevard. She is dynamic in her lower range, particularly in Memory.

Trisha Crowe’s vocal on Love Never Dies is simply beautiful, as it is in The Phantom Of The Opera, which alongside Michael Cormick, provides the most popular and captivating song of the night. Later, in Pie Jesu, her bell-like clarity is again superb. 

Gorgeous young mezzo Alinta Chidzey delivers a vivacious Take That Look Off Your Face from Tell Me On A Sunday and later adds lovely phrasing to I Don’t Know How To Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar

From his exquisite All I Ask of You to the energizing Light At The End Of The Tunnel from Starlight Express, Andrew Conaghan is a warm, likable and versatile performer, as well as a gifted vocalist, who conveys a great sense of emotion. 

Blake Bowden does an excellent job leading And The Money Kept Rolling In from Evita and later wows the audience with a wonderful ‘Til I Hear You Sing from Love Never Dies, ending on a show-stopping note. By the end of the night, I felt this talented singer had been under utilised. I look forward to hearing more from him in the future. 

Cheeky Shaun Rennie is at his best on songs showcasing his middle register, and that allow him to ham things up a little. Regrettably, while he starts strong on all his solos, it’s soon evident he is miscast on some of Lloyd-Webber’s iconic rock tenor songs such as Heaven On Their Minds from Jesus Christ Superstar – the all important hero notes are slightly beyond his range.

While Kirsten Hobbs struggles for seamless connection between her head and chest voice in Unexpected Love from Song & Dance, she is far more at ease and within her range singing Whistle Down The Wind. She is also very good in Pie Jesu, supporting Trisha Crowe and providing the perfect mezzo blend.

As a company, The Vaults Of Heaven, another crowd favourite, showcases the warm blend these 8 talented singers can deliver.

By the end of the (slightly forced and predicable) encore, the opening night audience was very happy, clapping along to Any Dream Will Do from Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The crowd had consistently showed their appreciation and affection for Lloyd-Webber’s songs throughout the night. In fact my date was so moved by All I Ask Of You, she burst into tears. A magic song, performed by the right singer/s, can be a powerful thing. For those who love this famous composer’s style, The Music Of Andrew Lloyd-Webber is a night full of such moments. 

The souvenir programme is also a must for fans. Next to the concert itself, its in-depth coverage and chronology of Lloyd-Webber’s prolific output (14 works in total), is a reminder of the huge impact he had has in popularising and modernising musical theatre across the globe. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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