Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th Birthday Celebration at Royal Albert Hall online
22 years ago, the biggest names in musical theatre came together to celebrate composer Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 50th birthday. The show featured hits from Webber’s musicals, including numbers from Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Evita and Starlight Express, as well as his more classical Pie Jesu.
The 1998 performance was immortalised on video and has now become available to stream for a limited time on Youtube. The recording has a classic 90s feel to it – whether that be down to the costumes or the video quality is hard to pinpoint – but it does offer a unique opportunity to see the likes of Sarah Brightman performing live on stage.
Brightman may have been criticised for her acting, but her ethereal, siren-like voice is magical in her rendition of The Music of the Night. If you were too young to see her playing Christine on the West End in the 80s, this live recording lets you experience highlights from the musical. The genuinely heartfelt and beautifully performed All I Ask Of You duet performed by Brightman and Michael Ball is gorgeous, while flashing and multicoloured lights as the phantom plays the organ gives this section a theatrical flair.
The stage is set up as an illuminated half infinity symbol with two shining paths leading towards two doors, while the walls are subtly decorated with musical notes. A gold and black earth hangs at the back of the stage, perhaps symbolising the universality of music. From a shiny silver suit and rollerblades in Light at the End of the Tunnel to Glenn Close reprising her original Norma Desmond costume from Sunset Boulevard, the costumes stay true to the original musicals and add to the feeling that we are seeing snapshots from the actual musicals.
This may not be a recent performance, but Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Celebration feels very relevant in today’s world. Given that we can’t go to the theatre in person, it’s never been more important to celebrate these shows and the people who helped create them. Right now, we could all do with a celebration, so transport yourself back in time and watch the West End come to life from your own home.
Photo: Really Useful Group
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Royal Albert Hall Celebration is available to watch on The Shows Must Go On! YouTube channel from 7pm UK time on 1st May 2020. For further information visit Andrew Lloyd Webber’s website here.