Andrew Lloyd Webber started writing musicals at age 7, and hasn’t looked back since

Andrew Lloyd Webber started writing musicals at age 7, and hasn’t looked back since


Do you like cats you like cats? – I adore cats – Okay just checking – You have cats? – Of course. Yes I have Turkish swimming cats–Turkish Van Cats. – You start in your teens writing right?
When did you.. -No, no i started writing for musicals when I and when I was about seven or eight years old. – Seven or eight? -Yeah I mean I built myself a little toy theater and I staged
musicals which I got my brother to help sing and we got bored parents friends
around. And I had a wonderful theatrical aunt called Vi and she brought people
round and I did make terrible, terrible little musicals. And when I got to it’s a
big school when I was about 12. Well, then I actually managed to get one
or two of them staged. Can I pour you some tea tea? -Well if you like–it ‘s really me that should be pouring tea – Well it’s closer to me so it’s alright. -There you go i suppose it’s sort of almost teatime. -It is almost tea time why not? Do you take milk or sugar? -I gonna to have a little bit of milk. Would you like a little bit of milk? -Yes, please-thank you splash.Thank you sir Andrew Lloyd Webber what’s your drink? – Well do you know what you know I gave up wine about three years ago. I used to love my wines. So it’s not
that but do not I really like now is apple juice. We could have had apple juice. We have had apple juice -We could have had apple juice. – But we thought this would be more cozy. – I grow it at home now. And it’s really lovely – You have apple trees on your property and then you crush them to juice. – Yes yes it’s turned into juice
– That’s impressive. – I’m sort of tea drinking a coffee
drinker as well I shouldn’t really be but.. – I didn’t think English people were allowed
to be coffee drinkers (laughs) No, no we do you see we’re part of Europe no matter what anybody says (laughs). – You write in the memoir you are lucky if you know what you want to do in life you’re
incredibly lucky? Your incredibly lucky if your able to make a career of that? Are you incredibly lucky? – I’m incredibly lucky which is what what I say and I mean incredibly lucky that it’s in musical theatre. Do you know what I am incredibly lucky about as well is that I am still writing away. And I’m writing at a time when musical theater particularly in America is having a golden period again -It really it really is – It really is exciting and I mean I’m part of the sort of community I feel even though I’m a
Brit that I’m perhaps an immigrant after these 50 years. – America has adopted you for sure. – And I sort of feel well everywhere I go at the moment that it’s like and there’s a new
energy on Broadway that I’m just thrilled to be a part of. – you’re happy with that because some some have wondered about the direction Broadway is going – I think you’ve got a generation of young writers who are not afraid now of
writing what they want and they don’t feel they have to write necessarily
please critics it’s it’s great. – You grew up in England in a musical family. right? – Your father was a composer. What were you listening to as a kid? Was there a moment that you knew this is what I’m going to do? – There was a moment where I thought I knew what I was going to do I sort of wavered a little bit from it Because I have another interest which is architecture and art and
history. – Another thing people don’t know that people don’t know about you. That you’re obsessed with architecture. – I thought maybe that’s the direction I was going to go but only when I had a little bit
of a wobble I knew very very early on that I was going to go into I think some form of writing music and I think very early on for the theater too. Cause I was just hooked on theatre when I was very small. – What did you listen to? – Well, I listened to all sorts of music my father as well as being a composer was the
director of composition of the Royal College of Music. And therefore, he–was
very much involved with music of all sorts and he was very very open in his
taste I I mean I fell in love because you know like all kids I I heard the pop
and rock songs of the time you know and and I I really saw no real barriers in
music because my family was very open about that I had obviously what you
might call classical music around me all the time but equally so they were never
going to stop me bringing in my own you know things all listening to the radio
or whatever Music ♪ ♪ ♪ – Did you write Jesus Christ Superstar on
the back of a napkin? Or a song from it? – Oh the main theme, I was walking along
the street and I was outside a restaurant full of them in West London.
And I thought of the tune before and forgotten it no this time I thought I
can’t forget it I got in the game and I’m gonna write down I popped in the
restaurants and I said me but I’m like just took a pencil and
put it so I had it. – So that you wouldn’t lose the tune. – Because I was worried I’d forgot me once before was only two days though. – Is that how you do it do you find the key tune? – Or the one piece that’s going to be the centerpiece of a musical first? What’s your process? – There’s no golden rule. What you do
have to do is to start every time really with the story I mean that’s that’s the
normal rule and with me I like to find the story and then map out either on my
own or with an a writer at that point how the story might go and that’s the
moment where you find where songs can go I I often write melanism and at which
which I have in isolation but I never never use them unless I think they’re
right for the dramatic situation the story in in my cases is absolutely vital
and I think sometimes when a musical perhaps isn’t quite right and I’ve had
ones which haven’t quite worked that normally when you look into it the
story’s got something to do with it why this my school the rock works is because the story is a very simple, primal, simple tale. The beginning middle and an end and that that’s what you have to look for Music ♪ ♪ ♪ – You’ve taken risks in your career right? -Yes – Fair to say you write about you write about cats you write about phantoms. [INAUD] – Wisk is one of the things. In some senses the most scary. Oh gosh it can be scary but it’s the most enjoyable. – The most enjoyable? – I mean I get looking back on it. I mean I it’s a miracle that Cats ever got near the stage. It so nearly didn’t it so nearly even got cancelled. – I don’t think people know that. – Well, if you really think about it. At the at the time when it was done it was certainly in Britain. And I think here also it was it was really
quite unusual it was revolutionary in fact. I mean the idea that we could make
people believe that human beings were cats the initial reviews of it in London
actually were really very good, but it it didn’t I mean it just took off but it
was up to that time we simply didn’t know what we had. we simply didn’t know
at the moment that one of our actress came on the stage dressed as a cat would
be a moment where everybody howled with laughter or what he had happened is
everybody was completely blown apart actually by that the first preview. It was
very very hot night. – Is it true that your father heard it was memory i think right? – Your father heard it was memory? Heard the melody of it? – I took memory to my father so I said I got a play to and I want you to tell me what it sounds like. And when I finished it he said play it again. So I thought well dad thinks he dislikes something. So I said dad what do you think it sounds like and he said , ” do you know what it sounds like ten million dollars.” – He was right. – Well he was right– Yes. – The musicals are getting this sort of
second life right now on television. Yours is about to be– Jesus Christ
Superstar– is about on NBC. Do you feel that that … – What’s exciting is it’s live. I mean if you’re talking about Netflix series they’re great. – There’s some fabulous ones but they’re not live. The thing about the NBC superstar is you’re going to watch it and anything can happen. I mean there could be an absolute disaster and… – Well, I hope not for your sake. – Well, I hope not for my sake. But that’s kind of half the thrill of it. – And the fact that it is a live production. What’s great when you come to the theater is that the night you come and see it that performance is for you and the other members of the audience only. And of course it’s not quite the
same on television but it is very different when it’s live. I love doing live television and you know I’ve done some very shows back in Britain well it’s been live and there’s nothing quite like it. It’s sort of the adrenaline when you know you’re going on air. And I can just feel that already with what’s going to happen with Superstar. Just that moment where you know it’s 30 seconds to go there’s nothing you do about it And it’s it’s kind of wonderful. Music ♪ ♪ ♪ – This theater this is where phantom is every night and has been the longest running show on Broadway. You– I’ve heard bought a secondhand copy of the book the novel phantom for 50 cents. – For 50 cents not very far away from here Fifth Avenue’s – Best investment you ever made? – Well, it wasn’t a bad one. I looked at the book with interest and bought it and read it. – And thought there is a very definite story here I could do. – How do you know what’s gonna make a good story? – You don’t know. You’ve got an instinct one of the important things in musical theater that you have to learn and I’ve made mistakes
like this many times before, but the thing you have to learn is that a great
story is the vital ingredient. One thing about the Phantom of the Opera is is the way that its fashioned here’s it’s a very, very strong story School of Rock. School of Rock strong story and the course the story of Jesus in the last few days of his life
is an extraordinary story. A great story I think can carry an okay score, but I don’t think a great score can survive and not very good story. – Tell me about your foundation? You started a foundation years ago. – Some years ago. Yes. – Your doing alot of good work. Yes, I think one of the things I feel most passionately about and I think that’s probably what drew me to the idea of doing School of Rock is
the importance of music and education. I know here that very unfortunately music
seems to be dropping out of the curriculum for a lot of schools. And therefore it’s becoming now almost the preserve of the privileged. And it seems to be entirely wrong the thing about music is is that it crosses all forms of
barriers.Race, creed, religion–anything you like. And it empowers kids. It’s not about kids necessarily becoming stars or musicians or performers. It’s what music can do for people’s behavior. Is what people could do to liberate them to find themselves. It’s also about really important things is that it also teaches you to to understand other disciplines like math. You know it’s it is crazy and so what I hope to do with my foundation is to keep music in schools I can only do a little bit we have got 6,000 kids in London now who get a free music lesson each week and they get a free musical instrument there out of school -Well, as parent I thank you well it’s important… -I think everybody who’s been lucky as I have you
know to have a career musical theater I think we we owe it to give something
back and give it to the generation that’s coming up and yeah that’s what
comes back to back so thrilling here on Broadway to see so many young
composers and writers coming through. – You’re a perfectionist you say – very much so – Do you ever sit in the audience watch a show of yours and say that’s not right I’ve got to fix that? – It’s wonderful when I don’t. I’ve had that exper—you know it’s very rare trouble with me is is that I’ve come to a Phantom of the Opera here. And see it and then come away with an army of notes, but… – I’m sure they love – but that’s because theatre’s is live. you know and you were always going to have variations in performance. from night to night there are going to be variations But sometimes what is threading is when somebody brings something completely new to it. That nobody else thought of. -That you haven’t thought of ? -That I haven’t thought of? – For the young people out there what’s been the biggest obstacle? What’s the biggest obstacle for me? Well my life has been pretty charmed because buying a state with the album of Jesus Christ Superstar
we had a very big success with it here. I think I’d like to put in another way
what’s the best way for say a young writer to get their work go heard and I
think it’s exactly that to get it heard. Get it performed. That’s the most important thing because everybody is always looking for something new. And it’s astonishing how if you get your work performed even if it takes three or four goes, people will find it. Get your work performed. Doesn’t matter where. Doesn’t matter when. Doesn’t matter how. Just get it performed. – And in time it will be noticed. – Andrew thank you so much for having a little tea with me I appreciate it. -Thank you very, very much and a lovely cup it was.

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