Book Review: Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd Webber

The wondrous little corner of show business called musical theatre

I love most of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work, which made me curious about his life. I have never read any memoir only other autobiographies. I think this book was well written, but it’s just boring if you don’t love the guy himself.

Book Review: Unmasked: A Memoir by Andrew Lloyed Webber


Title & Author: Unmasked: A Memior by Andrew Lloyed Webber
Genre: Nonfiction, Autobiography
Release date: March 6 2018
Series: Standalone
Publisher: HarperCollins


One of the most successful and distinguished artists of our time, Andrew Lloyd Webber has reigned over the musical theatre world for nearly five decades. The winner of numerous awards, including multiple Tonys and an Oscar, Lloyd Webber has enchanted millions worldwide with his music and numerous hit shows, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, The Phantom of the Opera—Broadway’s longest running show—and most recently, School of Rock. In Unmasked, written in his own inimitable, quirky voice, the revered, award-winning composer takes stock of his achievements, the twists of fate and circumstance which brought him both success and disappointment, and the passions that inspire and sustain him.

The son of a music professor and a piano teacher, Lloyd Webber reveals his artistic influences, from his idols Rodgers and Hammerstein and the perfection of South Pacific’s “Some Enchanted Evening,” to the pop and rock music of the 1960s and Puccini’s Tosca, to P. G. Wodehouse and T. S. Eliot. Lloyd Webber recalls his bohemian London youth, reminiscing about the happiest place of his childhood, his homemade Harrington Pavilion—a make-believe world of musical theatre in which he created his earliest entertainments.

A record of several exciting and turbulent decades of British and American musical theatre and the transformation of popular music itself, Unmasked is ultimately a chronicle of artistic creation. Lloyd Webber looks back at the development of some of his most famous works and illuminates his collaborations with luminaries such as Tim Rice, Robert Stigwood, Harold Prince, Cameron Mackintosh, and Trevor Nunn. Taking us behind the scenes of his productions, Lloyd Webber reveals fascinating details about each show, including the rich cast of characters involved with making them, and the creative and logistical challenges and artistic political battles that ensued.

Lloyd Webber shares his recollections of the works that have become cultural touchstones for generations of fans: writings songs for a school production that would become his first hit, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; finding the coterie of performers for his classic rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar; developing his first megahit, Evita, which would win seven Tonys Awards, including Best Musical; staking his reputation and fortune on the groundbreaking Cats; and making history with the dazzling The Phantom of the Opera. 

Reflecting a life that included many passions (from architecture to Turkish Swimming Cats), full of witty and revealing anecdotes, and featuring cameo appearances by numerous celebrities—Elaine Paige, Sarah Brightman, David Frost, Julie Covington, Judi Dench, Richard Branson, A.R. Rahman, Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, Richard Rodgers, Norman Jewison, Milos Forman, Plácido Domingo, Barbra Streisand, Michael Crawford, Gillian Lynne, Betty Buckley, and more—Unmasked at last reveals the true face of the extraordinary man beneath the storied legend.

I give Unmasked: A Memoir by Andrew Lloyd Webber three out of five hearts because I thought it was boring, it covers the first +/-38 years of his life. Which is a lot for a book of only 528 pages. Of course it mostly covers all the work he did. But I noticed it never pulled me in, like Brave by Rose McGowan did. I had to put it down half way through to read something else because I felt like I was wasting my time.

For someone who has written such beautiful music, Andrew Lloyd Webber had a pretty ordinary life. Born into a musical family, even his younger brother got a musical career. Andrew was interested in architecture as a young boy, but music soon took over his life. But except for being very young when writing a six piece suite, he doesn’t do anything very extraordinary.

He was twenty two when he married his eighteen year old girlfriend and later divorced her again to marry his well known muse Sarah Brightman. In the meantime he wrote a couple of big musicals together with Tim Rice, who’s lyrics I usually also like.

The writing is well done, but I just wasn’t interested. I am not the right person to read memoirs I assume.

Let me know what you thought of this book!
If you have any requests for which book I should talk about next, please let me know in the comments down below.

For now, let books enrich your life!


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