Posted on September 13, 2007 at 7:50 am
I couldn’t loathe the headline more, but here’s a tantalizing excerpt from an interview, at any rate. (There are instructions for downloading the entire magazine at the bottom of the link above.) First preview tomorrow night!
The Next Andrew Lloyd Webber?
10th September 2007
by Roger Foss
Musicals are everywhere. But where are the new writers? And why aren’t they more famous? Roger Foss asks US composer Jason Robert Brown as his Parade comes to London.
Attacking the growth of “pretty ghastly” West End musical revivals last year, lyricist Tim Rice asked: “Where is a single young team or young writer writing fresh new musicals that are successful? I can’t think of one.” Similar worries were expressed by Rice’s former collaborator, the maestro of musical theatre, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Things weren’t the same, he said, as when he and Rice became famous new kids on the West End and Broadway blocks: “There haven’t really been the new young writers one would have hoped to come through.”
Is there a Noughties generation of musical theatre writers? There may not be too many listed with Lloyd Webber and Rice global branding, or iconic partnerships from Broadway’s heyday like Rodgers and Hammerstein, but there’s plenty of talent out there warming up their fingers at the keyboards, even if their names are not yet in lights.
Heading any list anywhere, American composer and singer-songwriter Jason Robert Brown is often hailed as the musical successor to Stephen Sondheim. At 37, Brown may still not be a household name, but he’s developed his own distinctive voice, and become an adored icon among musical theatre aficionados. “There are a lot of young writers in the States, but maybe we’re more open to the idea that young people are going to write weird little musicals,” observes the typically outspoken composer. “I don’t entirely understand what’s happening in the UK, though it’s clear that new talent is not being nurtured here in a helpful way.”
As for Lloyd Webber having no heir? “Well yes, but Andrew was always an anomaly – the crazy mega-superstar composer! Before him you had Sandy Wilson and Lionel Bart, and who next? I don’t know that musical theatre was ever a British art form. But if it’s not going to be at the Donmar or the Menier Chocolate Factory, then where are the new voices going to be developed? If you’re waiting for them to be developed in the commercial arena, it’ll come to nothing.”