Thursday, March 11, 2010

Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber

Love Never Dies had its world premiere on March 10th. The firestorm about this new musical started long ago. You can read one of my previous posts regarding my own thoughts on his decision to do a sequel to the beloved Phantom of the Opera.

As I stated before, it's caused a disturbance in the lair. Before its release, it was lambasted across the Internet on a variety of forums by fans who vehemently opposed its release. Now it's being lambasted for the story by its critics but loved by others. In addition to the fans (phans) being quite vocal on their criticism, Andrew has retaliated himself with a few public comments over the judgmental blasting he's received from what he terms "obsessed" fans.

If there's anything I've learned in my two years surfing the Phantom community and being involved with its fans, is this story elicits deep passionate emotions from its followers. It was quite evident during my show, All Things Phantom, and it's still quite evident as I pen this post (for which I may get lambasted myself).

I'm not here to criticize or comment on whether Love Never Dies should have ever been released or whether it's good or bad. I've listened to the CD, had my thoughts, and will see it on March 26. My post is directed at its composer, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. Who is this man that has caused such a stir? Well, let's take a brief look at his career.
  • He has composed 13 musicals
  • He's won 6 Tony Awards (including 40 nominations)
  • He's won 3 Grammy Awards (including 60 nominations)
  • He's won an Academy Award (including 2 nominations)
  • He's won 7 Olivier Awards (including 100 nominations)
  • He's won a Golden Globe
  • And to top it off, the Queen of England saw fit to knight him in 1992 for his services to music
Now, after reading that impressive list this one human being has given to humanity during his lifetime, his public fans who have despised his release of Love Never Dies have saw fit to:
  • Accused him of penning the sequel because he's money hungry
  • Inferred he's insane or becoming senile in his elder years
  • Wished for his demise
  • Cursed him
  • And spoken ill about him in a thousand other ways
I think it's quite poignant some angry fans actually look like the lynch mob that came after Erik in the lair with their torches, ropes, and cries of "lets get him!" He's done something that has displeased us, so our response has been to publicly humiliate him on the Internet via Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, forums, boards, and groups.

Lately, he's been a bit upset over the public attacks. Should he be? I think he has a right to be because of the spirit in which the criticism has been launched. I can honestly understand the man's frustration. Is it because he can't take public criticism? The man has been a composer his entire life, in the entertainment industry, and criticized a thousand times over for his work. This is not the first time, but I think it's probably been the first time he's been so severely criticised by the medium of modern technology before his work ever hit the stage.

The playing field has changed since 1986 when he first released The Phantom of the Opera, which even then didn't get good reviews. The Internet back then didn't exist. Free speech wasn't so free and easy to get out. Times have changed. We instantly post what's on our mind and send it across the airwaves for millions to read. The Internet is a powerful medium for good or evil. We've become a society proficient at tearing apart our fellow human beings through the advent of technology.

Everyone has the right to like or dislike the story. It's the manner, however, in which we do so that I believe causes our beloved Phantom to raise a brow. You may be quite angry at Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber for tinkering with the story. However, the man deserves our basic respect for his contributions to the entertainment industry during his lifetime, even while voicing unhappy displeasure over Love Never Dies.

In all the negative fan comments I've read over his audacity of penning a sequel, not once have I seen among all the criticism a heartfelt thank you for bringing us the original that is being so vehemently defended. He immortalized your genius of music from Leroux into a musical, moved you with its haunting music, brought tears to your eyes with the story, and this is how some repay him.

I think it's time to step back and examine what's going on here. Love Never Dies may not be your cup of tea, but for others it will be. It just grieves me that others have seen fit to string him up with the Punjab lasso for following his own desire to continue the story when he's due our respect and thanks for the original in spite of it all. You don't have to agree, you don't have to like it, you don't have to see it. Prudence, however, screams to voice your opinion laced with an ounce of respect for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's achievements, and I make no bones about being the first to do so.

Andrew, if by chance this post ever makes it before your eyes, I'd like to personally thank you for The Phantom of the Opera. You've moved my soul with your haunting score, touched my heart with a wonderful story, and brought me joy and tears. Beyond all that, you gave me purpose in my life by giving me inspiration to write.

Even if I'm still not totally enthralled with Love Never Dies when I see it for myself, I sincerely thank you and wish you the best out of respect for who you are as a human being and the contributions you have made to the public. After all, a famous author once penned the cry of the Phantom as saying, "All I ever wanted was to be loved for myself." I, as a fan, owe you nothing less than the same. Otherwise, I'm merely a hypocrite, who claims to know the meaning of the story, but fails to live it by giving you the respect that is due.

Penned from my heart,
The Phantom's Student


Knight Phantom said...


You have said so eloquently what I have been trying to form into words. You are absolutely right that we owe Sir Andrew our respect and love for the wonderful gift he has given us! I personally cannot wait to see Love Never Dies for myself, and I will, when it crosses the pond to NYC in November.

I would like to share with you the open thank you note to my book:[i] I would like to thank Gerard Butler for giving me Erik. Andrew Lloyd Webber for giving him his voice, Gaston Laroux for making me like him, and Susan Kay for letting me love him.[/i]

I would also like to thank you Vicki for giving us a wonderful place to really get into and discuss the beauty that is Erik.

Yours, Knight Phantom

Anonymous said...

Eloquently and perfectly stated.

Kyla D. said...

Well said! I'm not really crazy about Love Never Dies myself, but I find it tasteless and tacky to attack the man who wrote it because of that. I love his other work. Heck, I love some of the music in LND too. It's just not my cup of tea, and I'm going to leave it at that.

Kelly Jacqueline said...

I agree with some of what you've said (I'm one of the fans who's critical of LND, although I certainly have never wished ALW dead).

I disagree, though, with your statement that nobody is acknowledging the fact that he brought us the musical from 1986 which we DO love. I feel that each time somebody states that LND is an insult to ALW's original musical, THAT is an acknowledgement of the genius of ALW's original POTO musical.

Indeed, it is precisely the fact that ALW wrote such a beautiful and moving work as POTO, and then followed it up with something as uninspired as LND, which I find so appalling.

However, many phans are mocking ALW's appearance, his age, etc. when criticizing LND, which I agree is very hypocritical and contrary to the original message of POTO.

Thanks for your insight and thoughts in this blog entry, and best wishes to you!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you: in any case he deserves respect for his long and successful career. Here is my humble and sincere tribute to one masterpiece of his that we all adore:

Cheryl said...

I too agree! We owe the man our respect if not because we like his music but for the sheer volume and quality over the years. No one can deny that he has given musical theatre one hell of a boost in the past 30-40 years!
I don't know if I like LNDs yet, haven't seen it, but I do like the music and the 'idea' behind it.
Bravo Maestro, thank you for the music! Oh wait, wrong musical...! ;-)

Madame le Fantome said...

Wow...Those of us who have been criticizing are justly and eloquently rebuked...

Thank you SO MUCH for saying this! I have to admit, I'm not thrilled with LND (although I never wished ALW dead, I ashamedly admit to having (jokingly, but still...) stated to several people that he needs "a couple good whacks on the head" for this...). Still, you are absolutely right--if anyone ought to be respectful about things like this, it is the Phan community--we, who claim we love and understand Erik, and yet cannot see fit to respect and understand this man in real life... Okay, now I'm thoroughly ashamed of myself...

(With all this said, though, I'm still allowed to make fun of LND, right? I do it with the original, as well...I make fun of all the stories and characters I love...(whoa, do I subconsciously like LND? Is that why I've been making fun of it? *is confused now*...))

Thank you once again for taking us sternly to task! I appreciate your bravery and openmindedness!

~Madame le Fantome