Andrew Lloyd Webber's best musical theatre songs, from Jesus Christ Superstar to Joseph

·6-min read
Johan Persson
Johan Persson

It's hard to think of anyone who has had more of an impact on the British musical than Andrew Lloyd Webber.

We’ve been gifted some of the most memorable tunes in showbiz through his long term collaborations with such lyricists as Tim Rice, Don Black and Richard Stilgoe across a 50 year career.

Diving straight in at the age of 17, he hasn’t stopped writing since. This is the first time in decades that a Lloyd Webber musical hasn't been running in the West End or on Broadway, but thankfully they will be running online.

To remind yourselves just what joys await you, we’ve picked out the catchiest songs of the lot.

Heaven on their Minds, Jesus Christ Superstar

There's a reason Judas is the part that everyone wants to play – you get to sing this. You might expect a rock opera of this scale to start with a huge ensemble number, but no. Heaven on their Minds sets the tone and presents Judas’s argument for eventually betraying Jesus – that he’s just a man, not a god. We have to mention Tyrone Huntley, whose outstanding performance in the 2016 revival at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre won an Evening Standard Theatre Award.

July 9-August 24, Barbican Theatre

Buy tickets for Jesus Christ Superstar with GO London

Music of the Night, Phantom of the Opera

Sultry and seductive or just plain creepy – who can tell? (Spoiler: it’s creepy.) Music of the Night sees the Phantom take Christine into his candlelit underground lair, where he proceeds to use the magic of musical theatre to hypnotise her into loving him and leaving her life behind – hey, we’ve all tried it. There are moments of rousing strings, but for the most part it is calm and eerie and beautiful (even if slightly sinister).

Running now, Her Majesty's Theatre

Buy tickets for Phantom of the Opera with GO London

Another Suitcase in Another Hall, Evita

Don't be confused by the fact that Madonna somehow managed to snag this song when she played Eva Perón in the film version of Evita. ​In the musical it is actually played by her future husband Juan Perón’s mistress. It’s a small part – about five minutes stagetime and put into the musical as a device to show Eva’s ruthless side. But the song gives this part of the story its significance, making the audience feel sympathy for a nameless young woman, cast out with nowhere to go, asking repeatedly: “What happens now?”

August 2-September 21, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, openairtheatre.com

Stick it to the Man, School of Rock

This famous line from the 2002 Jack Black film is what gave Lloyd Webber the idea to turn it into a stage musical. He was watching the movie when the words "stick it to the man" sent the initial musical sparks flying in his mind. Failed rocker turned imposter-substitute teacher Dewey Finn has decided to enter his class of school children into Battle of the Bands to get his career back on track. In Stick it to the Man, he realises that one of the students, Zack, is too uptight and tells the kids that they need to get angry to really rock. There’s nothing quite like watching a ten-year-old delivering a face-melting guitar solo to make you sit up in your seat. And here's what makes it even better: these kids are all really playing those instruments.

Running now, Gillian Lynne Theatre

Buy tickets for School of Rock with GO London

One More Angel in Heaven, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Lloyd Webber does like a biblical tale – this time it’s the Old Testament. The songs in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat all use different styles, including a number of musical pastiches. Those Canaan Days takes the form of a melancholy French ballad, while the Pharaoh describes his dream in Elvis-inspired rock and roll. One More Angel in Heaven is a send up of country and western, with Joseph’s brothers lying to their father that he has died. It’s funny and light, considering they’ve just sold their own brother into slavery.

July 11-September 8, London Palladium

Buy tickets for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat with GO London

As If We Never Said Goodbye, Sunset Boulevard

Which stage legend hasn’t sang this song? Patti LuPone, Glenn Close, Elaine Paige and Barbra Streisand have all performed their own versions of the Sunset Boulevard belter. Even Jason Manford included it in his album of showtunes (yes, he has one). The musical is based on the 1950 fim and revolves around Norma Desmond, a faded silent movie star living in her past glories. In this Act II number, a delusional Norma tells of her excitement at returning to the spotlight.

Tell Me On A Sunday, Tell Me On A Sunday

Tell Me On A Sunday is one of Lloyd Webber’s more understated musicals. Written with lyricist Don Black, it’s a one act, solo show about a young woman who goes to America in search of love, only to be met with a series of disappointing and painful relationships. The title song sees her lay out how she would want to be broken up with when her next relationship ends. Because, as I'm sure we can all agree, if you’re going to have your heart broken, there might as well be some chimpanzees there.

Memory, Cats

You may have heard it a million times but that doesn’t stop it being a good’un. Lloyd Webber’s adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats is mainly made up of prancing, staccato numbers. But in amongst those comes an unexpected ballad by a former beauty cat Grizabella, cast out from the Jellicles’ gang. Trevor Nunn, who directed the original production, pulled the lyrics together from Eliot’s Rhapsody on a Windy Night, while Lloyd Webber composed a song with not one, not two, but three key changes. That’s true commitment to the musical.

No Matter What, Whistle Down The Wind

Lloyd Webber has had a number of hits in the charts – people just can’t stop covering his songs. Boyzone took on the task of recording No Matter What from Whistle Down The Wind, taking it to number one. While it sounds like a love song, No Matter What is actually about blind faith. A group of children stumble upon an escaped murderer who has hidden himself in a barn and somehow mistake him for Jesus. The song is about them assuring him that they will never stop believing in him, regardless of what anyone says.

Love Changes Everything, Aspects of Love

Aspects of Love is one of Lloyd Webber’s lesser-performed shows, but Michael Ball originated the lead role when the musical opened and Love Changes Everything is one of his favourites. He played Alex, a young Englishmen who falls in love with a French actress and begins a short affair that...changes everything. Ball took the song and made it his signature tune, featuring it on his self-titled album.

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