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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Royal Albert Hall Celebration
Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Royal Albert Hall Celebration
Universal // Unrated // October 30, 2001
List Price: $24.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted June 12, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
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P R I N T
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THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
The endless success and self-congratulations of Andrew Lloyd Webber are most baffling to a lot of people. His shows are gaudy and often tuneless and his lyrics are obvious and artless. He even provoked Roger Waters to once sing the following ode: "Lloyd-Webber's awful stuff runs for years and years and years. An earthquake hits the theater, but the operetta lingers. Then the piano lid comes down and breaks his fucking fingers. It's a miracle."

Still, millions of people have bought tickets for shows like Cats, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Phantom of the Opera. This tribute concert (really a 50th birthday concert), consisting of a number of high-profile members of his various shows' casts, offers up a decent overview of Sir Andrew's career without really dwelling on any one show for too long.

By offering up suites of songs from each show the concert seeks to be very democratic, which seems odd given that a Broadway flop like Whistle Down the Wind ends up with an equal share of stage time as Phantom and Evita. The choice of performer is occasionally odd; Antonio Banderas struggles through numbers from both Evita and Phantom (what, Michael Crawford was busy?) but for the most part the performers are appropriate: Glenn Close sings Sunset Boulevard, Sarah Brightman sings Phantom. Elaine Paige sings pieces from various shows and seems the audience favorite. While the enormous reaction the surging theater has to the opening lines of "Memory" is dramatic, it's the only song representing Cats, the longest running show in Broadway history.

This concert, shot at Royal Albert Hall in London, however, probably reflects British tastes more than American. (I guess Aspects of Love and Starlight Express were as easily forgotten there as here, with only one song each.) Still, with so much emphasis on the past, Lloyd Webber doesn't miss the opportunity to promote the future, having Kiri Te Kanawa sing a song from his sequel to Phantom, a concept that most likely has plenty of theater fans trembling with anticipation.

VIDEO:
The video is a bit soft and hazy, probably to obscure the aging faces of some of the stars. Overall, it's well-handled, however, and the gaudy, glitzy production looks perfectly awful.

AUDIO:
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio sounds fine, bringing out the dense musical construction on some of the richer songs, but also betraying the tinny rawk phoniness of songs like "The Phantom of the Opera." A Dolby Surround track is also available and sounds fine, if less distinct.

EXTRAS:
Some trailers and bio info.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Definitely for fans only, The Royal Albert Hall Celebration makes no apologies for the overheated style of the music. With shows spanning decades (although more often pilfering material from classic films than based on original material), Lloyd Webber has left his mark on the world of musical theater. Now, whether that's a mark you're interested in seeing is up to you.

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