Legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has written to the Daily Telegraph refuting the suggestion from it's reporter Tim Walker that if “there had been people of equal stature” around him, he would not have written his latest musical Stephen Ward. The show, of which he is “immensely proud,” recently set a premature closing date of March 29 in London’s West End.
Lloyd Webber pointed out that the production’s director was five-time Olivier winner Richard Eyre, the producer was the veteran Robert Fox and the book and lyrics were by Oscar winners Christopher Hampton and Don Black. The Oscar, Tony and Grammy winner asserted that “the difference between success and failure in musical theater is a horrifyingly fine line,” maintaining, “I believe that if you choose a subject purely because it appears commercial, catastrophe looms.”
Cats should have put the well, cat into catastrophe. Lloyd Webber had to take out a second mortgage on his house to get the show on. Strikes against it included lyrics by a “dead poet," a "commercially untried director" (Trevor Nunn) and a producer who had "no major West End hit" (Cameron Mackintosh). To top it all off, the theater it was to play in was unlucky—Grease, starring Richard Gere had even flopped there.
Lloyd Webber’s take on what makes a hit musical? “Fools give you reasons, wise men never try.”