(The offical cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber's memoir, Unmasked!)
Welcome to my VERY FIRST blog post on the new-and-improved RyeTheNewsGuy.com! I had thought about doing a blog on my other site, and then never got around to it, but now I feel is a better time than ever to do it. Through this blog, I will be able to share my open, honest, and candid thoughts about current events in the world of entertainment, pop culture and lifestyle! This gives me the chance to connect more with my audience and share some of the exciting things going on with me, and share with you more candidly then interviews! So I hope you will stick along for the ride!
On Monday, March 5th, 2018 I finally got the chance to do something I had wanted to do for the longest time that I can remember, and that was being in the same room as "The Phantom" himself, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber (ALW for the rest of the post)! The evening was called" The Town Hall Presents Andrew Lloyd Webber Unmasked, with special guest host Glenn Close. Now before I go on I just want to say that the impact that ALW had on me is very significant, it's because of his music and shows, specifically Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (which turns 50 this year) that got me hooked into the theater! From performing "Jacob and Sons" on my picnic table out back, singing "Any Dream Will Do" in voice lessons, and getting to perform in this show, ALW work has formed me into the theater-loving die-hard fan and enthusiast I am today!
Part of getting tickets to this event was that you got a copy of his new book Unmasked before it offically hit shelves on Tuesday, March 6th. The book itself is uniquely designed with a well thought out and beautifully designed grayscale image and of course a perfectly fitting title! Norma Desmond (Glenn Close!) took to the stage to share with the audience why she loved ALW so much, and the profound impact he had on her, and then she introduced him! He received a standing ovation, and I being one of the ones standing, stood ever so proudly, clapping very loudly as he took his seat! ALW made a joke to the audience about Pip, Glenn Close's dog (who adorably was cuddled next to her on her chair during the entire session) "I'm working with a dog act" he said when he entered. He made it very clear he is a cat person and has been his whole life (he talks about Perseus, his childhood cat in the first chapter of his book).
Throughout the evening, which lasted about 90 minutes he spoke candidly about many topics which included his life and work, the impact that Harold Prince has had on him, and the story behind some of his iconic hits! One particularly exciting anecdote was about how "Memory" from CATS (which his father later told him "Andrew, that sounds like 10 million dollars!") was never intended to be in the show. Another tidbit I found very interesting was how he was inspired by one of Judy Garland's final performances in London before her death (which was so terrible he said that "people were booing her") to write "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" in EVITA. He also talked about the odd success that Jesus Christ Superstar had in London and how people were so up in arms about it, but how it was well received in the United States. He also talked about how it was never meant to be "performed" but instead done in a concert like setting, which the original Broadway show later resembled.
During the Q&A part of the evening where Glenn Close read questions from the audience, she had read one that stated: "Do you prefer writing for sopranos or chest voices?" It turned out the question was asked by Meghan Picerno- who is currently starring as Christine Daee in the National Tour of Love Never Dies. ALW was shocked by this, and I think said something like "Meghan Picerno, that's our Christine Daee in Love Never Dies, you're supposed to be performing!" She ended up joining Glenn Close and ALW onstage and sang the title song from "Love Never Dies." ALW had claimed that "this was a setup," but it is hard to believe that considering there was a piano already onstage when the event started, and ALW jumped right into playing the song after saying "he hadn't played it in a while." She was lovely, and that was a real treat to here her sing!
(Above: Glenn Close and ALW in conversation! Sorry for the shitty quality, they never said you "couldn't take photos of video" so I wasn't sure if I could.. So I quickly snuck this photo!)
Fun fact-- Love Never Dies is the "sequel" to Phantom of the Opera and opened in London back in 2010. It starred Ramin Karminloo (#bae as those who know me know that's how I refer to him!) and Sierra Boggess. It was not successful, and there were talks to bring it to Broadway, which is still a possibility ALW said. Though personally, I don't know how to feel about a sequel, and I have heard it wasn't very good. But clearly, they must have rethought things if they decided to bring it across America on tour! One of the last pieces of advice he left for the audience was "Get your work performed. It doesn't really matter where you get it performed. If you're a performer, you need to perform. Get yourself out there."
I was so thankful and glad that I was able to go to this once in a lifetime event (and rumored to be the ONLY USA book event) and see the man behind the magic talk so openly and candidly! I am currently in the midst of reading his book, and I truly suggest going out and getting a copy of Unmasked! He has promised to write a second volume and said that Unmasked only goes up until the opening of Phantom of the Opera.
Well, until next time!