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A gushing British profile of the composer of Evita and Cats--hailed here as something akin to a musical Messiah: ""Nobody, not even America's own acclaimed geniuses of musical theatre, from Jerome Kern and Richard Rodgers to Stephen Sondheim, has done as much""--in certain commercial terms, that is. (McKnight makes much of the brief period when Webber had three shows running both in N.Y. and London.) After a breathless close-up of the days leading up to Cats' B'way opening, McKnight offers a This-Is-Your-Life-style plod through Andrew's early years, thick with inane quotes from nannies, aunties, and such: ""She recalls the day when a very diminutive Andrew took a stroll with her and two of her favourite cats. . . 'I taught him maths and scripture,' the ex-headmaster says, 'and maths was certainly not his best subject'. . . Sarah Woodhouse remembers Andrew particularly well. 'He was scatty!' She smiles broadly."" Then musically precocious Andrew (son of musical, artistic parents) meets lyricist Tim Rice; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, originally conceived as a highschool show, takes off as an album; likewise Jesus Christ Superstar--despite its feud-fest/failure in N.Y. (""It is just unfortunate, perhaps, that Andrew has been connected with a number of such painful incidents in his brief and highly successful career, however little he has personally been responsible."") And, after Evita, there's a falling-out between worker-bee Andrew and flightier Tim--so, for Cats, Andrew's collaborators become T.S. Eliot and Trevor Nunn. McKnight offers a gossipy, detailed account of the ugly wrangles surrounding the lyrics of ""Memory,"" the one non-Eliot song in Cats; he accurately attributes much of Webber's success to his mastery of sound-engineering, with a few solid specifics; and the lesser-known Webber works get some attention here too. Otherwise, however, despite occasional quotes from Webber's personal/artistic detractors (whose often-persuasive comments are automatically pooh-poohed), this is an unabashed tribute/press-release--for unsophisticated fans only.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's