Elaine Page, the woman who first played Evita in the eponymous stage musical, once noted that show's composer, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, was "slightly crazy. His mind just darts from one thing to another. It's quite staggering, really."
Webber's recent recognition at the Kennedy Center Honors for his unparalleled collection of musicals (along with Dolly Parton, Steven Spielberg, and Smokey Robinson) inspired local producer Lawson Roberts to revise his production Absolutely Andrew: A Tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber, last seen at Piccolo four years ago.
"It was like, 'Wow, this is the perfect time to resurrect this show and do it on a much larger scale,'" Roberts says.
Roberts has pulled in four stage veterans from around the country to perform Webber's epic songs, along with an expanded 12-piece band led by musical director Taras Kovayl (formerly of Blood, Sweat and Tears).
The show will be an intimate, concert-style performance, with the performers offering tidbits of history on Webber's shows throughout.
"We're taking people on a musical journey from start to finish of the shows," Roberts says.
Webber got his big break on London's West Side with Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, followed by Evita, with the memorable "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina."
The 1980s brought Webber even more success, with Cats and "Mr. Mistoffelees," which Roberts calls "a lot of fun," and the "Pie Jesu" from Webber's Requiem Mass that Roberts describes as "haunting."
In 1986, Webber premiered his Phantom of the Opera, now the longest-running show on Broadway, besting Webber's own Cats in 2006. The show's rich musical catalog includes the title track, along with "Angel of Music," "The Music of the Night," and "All I Ask of You."
"No theatrical figure in the last 20 years has appealed so consistently to popular taste as Lloyd Webber," according to The New York Times' David Richards. "Not just American popular taste or British popular taste, but worldwide popular taste. He has established the vogue for the sung-through musical, brought epic dramas and operatic emotions to the musical stage, and helped prove that no subject is off-limits."
Absolutely Andrew will take a trip through all of these classic shows and more with an "all-star tribute" to Webber at the end of each evening.
"It's a show to bring the kids to," Roberts says. "It's music that transcends the generations." —Greg Hambrick
ABSOLUTELY ANDREW: A TRIBUTE TO ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER • Piccolo Spoleto's Songwriters Series • $25 • (1 hour 30 min.) • May 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, June 1, 2 at 7 p.m.; May 27, June 2, 3 at 2 p.m. • Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St. • 554-6060