Advocates: Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber - Baron Lloyd Webber - is one of the world's most successful living composers with his popular and award-winning works such as Phantom of the Opera and Cats being mainstays of the West End, Broadway and theatres around the world. He is one of the few people to have received an Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy Awards for his work. In 1975, he collaborated on Jeeves with Alan Ayckbourn, a renowned flop musical adaptation of P.G. Wodehouse's Wooster novels. In 1996, they revised and successfully revived the piece as By Jeeves, which opened the Stephen Joseph Theatre before transferring to the West End and, later, Broadway.


A Chorus Of Approval (1999)
In 1999, the Stephen Joseph Theatre held a special event to mark Alan Ayckbourn's 60th birthday. This was accompanied by a publication including tributes from some of the people he has worked with. This is a complete transcript of the contribution.

"When I was asked to write a piece in celebration of Alan's 60th, I willingly agreed. It would be hard to get writer's block about Britain's most prolific dramatist who is at this very moment stuck into his 54 play. Or so I thought.

"For on and off over the past few days I have made roughly as many false starts to this encomium (a word I first learned from Trevor Nunn) about my friend and for a short time colleague Alan as there were performances of our original
Jeeves. I suppose it is because there are so many sides to Alan that it is impossible to know where to begin. So I may as well start with the aforementioned catastrophe.

"Larry Geldorf once opined that if Hitler were alive he hoped that he would be out of town working on a musical. Whenever I think back on
Jeeves' out of town tryout in Bristol I am reminded how bullseye this observation is. There was poor Alan away from the controlled environment that he thrives on. There was I floundering about without ever having been involved with a show that hadn't been tried out in some other form previously. Bristol is not a city that is top of my must return to ASAP list.

"But it was a measure of Alan both as a person and as a consummate professional that in some ways that Bristol experience is something I would repeat.

"First and most important throughout all of the Bristolian tribulations I realised that I was forging a firm friendship with one of the greatest dramatists of our time I also quickly realised how unluvvy, if such a word exists, Alan is. I realised how vital the Stephen Joseph Theatre and Scarborough are not only to the genesis of all his many successes but also to Alan's spirit.

"I know no-one in the theatre who has put his roots down and stuck to them to such an extent. I can’t think of anyone of his stature who has absolutely eschewed all the show business trappings that success can bring.

"Alan is quite simply the most genuine theatrical animal I have ever met. It speaks volumes that he has Heather by his side who over the years has proved to be such an unspoilt joy.

"Others will be writing about Alan's achievements as both dramatist and director. I would like to throw my pennyworth of fried potatoes in about his lyrics. They are terrific. Alan's lyrics have real wit and style and, most importantly, they sing wonderfully.

"Alan, have a wonderful night. I am livid that I can't be with you. Keep writing those lyrics. Musical theatre needs the occasional nod from the Emperor of Scarborough."
Copyright: Andrew Lloyd Webber. All research for this page by Simon Murgatroyd, please credit this website if reproduced.