Re-writing history: more ‘confessions’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber

As we have previously noted, Andrew Lloyd Webber is a master at making seemingly self-effacing comments whilst stabbing his colleagues in the back.  It’s no different in his recent interview with Patrick Healy in the New York Times, in which he indulges in some ‘confessions’ which on the face of it seem refreshingly frank.  His artistic associates, however, may be less than impressed with his assertion that one of the reasons ‘Love Never Dies’ floundered was because ‘there was nobody around helping me to produce it who was also on the case’.  As Mark Shenton has already pointed out in his post on the subject, there was after all a named producer on ‘Love Never Dies’, Andre Ptaszynski.  Moreover, it’s an open secret that Lloyd Webber is a notorious control freak, so unless by ‘help’ he meant that there was no-one to lock him in a cupboard while they got on with producing the show, the statement has little credibility.  And somehow we doubt that his resolution to just ‘turn up at press nights and smile’ will last very long.

Perhaps a more candid confession in the same interview is that Lloyd Webber found the TV casting shows he was involved in great fun compared to the loneliness and isolation of composing, or as he puts it ‘Writing is hard while working with young performers is nearly always a joy’.  We wonder if he felt more able make such a comment for a US paper, whose readers did not have to suffer these programmes and the consequences of them.  Of course, these shows can be very addictive, and entertaining, and they can even provide some insight into the performance process – on TV anyway.  And if they had been billed as ‘just a bit of fun’ we would certainly have less of an issue with them.  But of course we wonder whether the BBC would have been quite so enthusiastic if there hadn’t been some supposed serious purpose behind them.  Profits from the public phone vote were put into the BBC’s Performing Arts Fund for aspiring performers, and we are told that the shows are about nurturing new talent and giving musical theatre a ‘shot in the arm’.  SOLT even commissioned an audience survey to find out if TV shows were having an effect on the make-up of audiences at the theatre.  And while we’re at it, has anyone else noticed the irony of the Andrew Lloyd Webber foundation offering scholarships for musical theatre training whilst its patron continues to undermine the whole idea of drama schools with TV show casting.

Perhaps the real reason that ‘Love Never Dies’ floundered is that TV casting shows have made it impossible for Lloyd Webber to function in the real world.  Described by Healy as a ‘near-giddy infatuation’, the appeal of these shows to a workaholic control-freak must be considerable.  Whilst the public vote for the winner, they have no choice about the selection of finalists, and Lloyd Webber has the power to override the phone vote at various points. He also gets to advise young performers, judge them (whether or not the public agree), and generally ‘Lord it’ over everyone else.  Even John Barrowman confessed to feeling underappreciated on the shows (serves him right).  But we should remember that these shows are fantasy.  The winners would never have garnered the huge amount of public adulation without the benefit of TV, and the shows would not have benefitted from such massive advance ticket sales without the appearance of a manufactured ‘star’.  After three shows like this, it must have been extraordinarily difficult for Lloyd Webber to adjust to the real world of a theatre production cast by normal means.  He may also have assumed that because this was a sequel to a hugely popular show, he was half-way there.

And then we have the announcement that there will be a DVD of Love Never Dies.  In another attempt to re-write history, the DVD will be of the Melbourne production which Lloyd Webber greeted with the words ‘thank you for making this the show I wished it could be’ as he joined the cast on stage on opening night.  Another slap in the face for the original West End cast and creative team, hot on the heels of the news that the show is to close at the end of August.  The original production will be allowed to fade from memory, and with it, the appalling reviews.  Or as Lloyd Webber more eloquently put it ‘I think with the baggage that it’s got, it might be better to just let it be discovered’.  But this is a bold move, because a much wider audience will now be able to judge the show for themselves.  Or will we find yet again that unfavourable reviews will be met with the objection that ‘you had to be there’.

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6 Responses to Re-writing history: more ‘confessions’ from Andrew Lloyd Webber

  1. Leon Donnelly says:

    I was very glad to hear that Andre Ptaszynski had his directorship in 11 companies related to Really Useful Theatre Group terminated on the 5th of July 2011, the day my mother died. I believe that Ptaszynski presided over the cover up of wrongdoing at the New London Theatre and the victimization of myself by Really Useful group management after I had reported backstage racism, bullying, drunkenness, violence, and management cover up at the New London Theatre (“Warhorse”) to senior management, Nick Starr at the National Theatre, Lloyd Webber himself, & the police. RUG management falsified documents and unsuccessfully tried to buy me off. I had an Employment Tribunal against them in January, represented myself against their high flying lawyers, and of course lost. Justice was not done. It was all very bent and disgusting. However, of the 5 senior management who I believe conspired on behalf of the Really Useful Theatre Group against me this was their fate:

    Andrew Hall, Head of Human Resources, resigned in September 2010, after we exchanged documents for my Tribunal. Under oath in Tribunal I asked Hall if he had passed on to the police the reports given to him by members of what I maintain were a drunken racist backstage gang that I was mentally ill, sinister, that my father was in the IRA and that I was a “potential suicide bomber”. The answer was “No”, despite attendance at the play subsequently of Prince William, Prince Harry, Princess Anne, Prince Charles, Prince Phillip & the Queen before I was suspended as a malicious liar for having made my reports. RUG needs to explain to the Royal Family, the Royal Protection squad and the public why a report to senior management ( no matter how false as in this case) that a member of crew was a mentally ill potential IRA suicide bomber should not be passed on to the relevant authorities. I believe that is a crime. It is certainly incompetence at the highest level. These statements were entered as evidence by RUG in my Tribunal, which just goes to show that Sam Neaman, their lawyer, was not as smart as he seemed to think he was. I await RUG’s explaination with pleasure.

    Howard Witts, finance Director & Secretary to the board, had his appointments as director & board secretary terminated on 10th January 2011, the day I submitted my statement to the Tribunal.

    Michael Brown, Operations Director, had his directorship terminated on 1 July 2011

    Andre Ptaszynski had his directorships to SMT Leisure Ltd, The Way Ahead, Really Useful Theatres Ltd, Really Useful Group Ltd, New London Theatre Ltd, Erik Productions Ltd, Company On Stage Ltd, Stoll Moss Productions Ltd, Adelphi Theatre Co Ltd, Palace Theatre London Ltd, & Stoll Moss Group Holdings Ltd terminated on 5th July 2011.

    I’m delighted! That only leaves Julian Rees, Technical & Operations Director to go, and I do hope he has all directorships terminated as soon as possible. Lloyd Webber was right about one thing, he did have a crap team of directors, they couldn’t manage a whelk stall! It is my opinion, however, that senior management reflect the personalities of their boss, which in this case doesn’t speak very highly of Lloyd Webber with such management beneath him.

    I also eagerly await to hear of the resignation of Nick Starr at the National Theatre for his part in the sordid events following my reports of the crimes committed at the New London Theatre while I worked in that terrible place. A little birdy tells me I’ll not have to wait too long. I hope this gives some background to Lloyd Webber’s frustrations with his management. You can see my full statement entered to Tribunal (before forced redactions) at .

    All the best, Leon.


  2. Leon Donnelly says:

    The Hour When The Ship Comes In

    18th October 2011, Andrew Lloyd Webber resigns from The Really Useful Group Ltd board.

    18th October 2011 Andrew Lloyd Webber resigns from Really Useful Holdings

    29th September 2011 notice of appointment of liquidator for The Really Useful Entertainment Company Ltd

    ” Oh the foes will rise
    With the sleep still in their eyes
    And they’ll jerk from their beds and think they’re dreamin’.
    But they’ll pinch themselves and squeal
    And know that it’s for real, The hour when the ship comes in.

    Then they’ll raise their hands,
    Sayin’ we’ll meet all your demands,
    But we’ll shout from the bow ” Your days are numbered”,
    And like Pharoah’s tribe
    They’ll be drowned in the tide,
    And like Goliath they’ll be humbled”.

    “When The Ship Comes In”, Bob Dylan.

    O’Donnell Abu!


  3. Pingback: So much for the Olympic spirit – Andrew Lloyd Webber throws away the baton for team West End theatre | rageoffstage

  4. Stageman says:

    More to come on the racism and bullying within the Really Useful Groups and how the company supported the bad behaviour to save bad publicity. Speaking from someone who also had the same experience like Mr L Donnelly


    • rageoffstage says:

      We look forward to hearing more….


    • Leon Donnelly says:

      Stageman, I look forward to hearing more. The Really Useful Group are an example of atrocious management and within the industry are well known for their poor standards at work and poor record re bullying & racism [allegedly – ed :)]. A bunch of a*******s to put it bluntly. Good luck and spill the beans fully, they deserve nothing but contempt. Leon


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