The Poetic Tragedy of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Final Moments With His Son

It’s been a momentous time for Broadway legend Andrew Lloyd Webber. The curtains closed on The Phantom of the Opera, the longest-running present in Broadway historical past, this weekend after its 13,981-performance run, the enduring chandelier crashing to the stage accompanied by the organ’s screaming one final time. Simply weeks earlier than, the composer misplaced his 43-year-old son, Nick Lloyd Webber, on March 25 following an 18-month battle in opposition to abdomen most cancers. 

The 75-year-old Andrew printed a heartfelt essay within the New York Occasions this week, the place he was requested to ruminate on Phantom’s closing (it opened on Broadway in 1988, and debuted in London’s West Finish in 1986) and the way forward for Broadway, however wrote of his previous and future, sharing particulars of the ultimate moments he spent along with his son in hospice the night time earlier than he died. 

Andrew Lloyd Webber on the 1990 opening of “Features of Love” with then-wife Sarah Brightman, son Nicholas Webber and daughter Imogen Webber.Ron Galella/Getty Photographs

It appears becoming that the father-son pair, each of whom have tailored works for the stage primarily based on traditional tales and poems (Phantom relies on the 1910 Gaston Leroux novel, whereas Cats was impressed by a group of T.S. Eliot poems, and Nick co-wrote a stage adaptation of Antoine Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince, for instance), exchanged quotes from British humorist P.G. Wodehouse amongst their parting phrases, in keeping with Andrew’s essay. Much more becoming: Andrew composed a Wodehouse adaptation, By Jeeves. It bombed.

That night time, Andrew supplied up “an apple a day, if properly aimed, retains the physician away” to his son in his hospice mattress, he writes, whereas Nick had a quote of his personal to consolation his father. Not about his sickness, however about one other agony of life: Dangerous evaluations. Andrew’s thirteenth new musical, Dangerous Cinderella, opened on Broadway on March 23, and on March 24, the composer was on the receiving finish of the official evaluations. “First: Convey earplugs,” started the Occasions’ brutal discover, bearing the headline that “The Title Warned Us.” Andrew had missed attending opening night time to be along with his son within the U.Ok. The evaluations had been inescapable, regardless of the place he was.

Andrew writes: 

“Right here’s one for you,” stated Nick, laughing. He had surmised that, after bulletins from New York, his father, as Wodehouse may need put it, was lower than gruntled. “Has anyone ever seen a dramatic critic within the daytime? After all not. They arrive out after darkish, as much as no good.” We hugged and stated our goodbyes.

The following day, my son died. Nothing’s worse for a mum or dad than the loss of life of a kid. In my bones I really feel it flawed to put in writing in regards to the closing of Phantom or the place Broadway’s going proper now.

However I’ll strive.

He doesn’t point out Nick by title once more within the essay, however whereas Andrew writes of childhood desires and lengthy a long time within the wings, making music and creating distractions and tales for the world, the composer is unmistakably melancholy, hoping for a shiny future for the Nice White Method whereas worrying that monetary actuality might puncture the dream. In the long run of the piece, he pleads for Broadway to not fall prey to worldwide franchising, to maintain it particular and sacred, the place the place he and fellow legend Hal Prince made their names. 

It’s not nearly his son, actually, and it’s not nearly Phantom, however, as Andrew succinctly places it, “This has been a season of goodbyes, private and public.”

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