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Oliviers 2017: Andrew Lloyd Webber – West End has ‘lost its musical theatre DNA’

Andrew Lloyd Webber. Photo: Bruce Glikas
Andrew Lloyd Webber. Photo: Bruce Glikas
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Andrew Lloyd Webber has said the state of musicals in the West End is “not great” compared to Broadway and begged American producers to come to London.

Speaking at the Olivier Awards 2017, where School of Rock won the outstanding achievement in music accolade, Lloyd Webber called for more new musicals to be written and produced in UK theatres.

He said: “There are only two new musicals that have opened in the West End this year.

“I’m not counting School of Rock because we opened on Broadway, but if I’m honest about it [the state of musicals in the West End] is not great.

“We’ve got Groundhog Day, which is wonderful, we’ve got The Girls, which is wonderful, but we’ve got to compare that with 13 new musicals on Broadway this season.”

Lloyd Webber argued that the UK had “lost its momentum” in producing musicals.

He said: “What’s going on in America is that there are lots and lots of small theatres that are developing new musicals all the time.

“We need places where we can work on new material, and that’s one of the reasons I got this little theatre called the Other Palace, which I just want people to come to and try out new material.

“We’ve just got to get that back into our DNA again, because it just ain’t there at the moment.”

He added: “I think people are trying, for example Bristol Old Vic are trying all the time, West Yorkshire Playhouse are, I’m not saying that people aren’t, but there isn’t the energy going on around the country or even in London of just literally doing and trying and experimenting with musicals as there is in America right now.

“But we have one big advantage over the Americans; everything on Broadway is so expensive to produce and we can do it in London much cheaper, so if an American producer is listening: please, please do something here, we need you.”

Lloyd Webber added that the industry needs a new generation of people to be writing musicals, and not just “people like me”.

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