Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Royal Albert Hall Celebration [1998]

In 1998 a concert at the Royal Albert Hall celebrated Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's 50th birthday and featured more than two hours of hits from a body of work spanning almost three decades. In this keepsake of a memorable night, star after star steps on to a massive, Eurovision-style set to revisit golden moments in their long association with Britain's most successful composer of musicals. Elaine Paige in big frocks and an even bigger voice delivers "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" and "Memory" with her usual power; Michael Ball and Donny Osmond stretch the last vestiges of boyish charm to the very limits but still sound great; and Boyzone gets the youth vote. Then there are Kiri Te Kanawa, Bonnie Tyler, Tina Arena, and, of course, another encore for brother Julian Lloyd Webber and those Variations on the cello. But the stars are Sir Andrew's ex-wife Sarah Brightman in an outstanding selection from The Phantom of the Opera (probably his best work), Antonio Banderas (who really can sing), and Glenn Close, a stupendous, moving Norma Desmond in songs from Sunset Boulevard. All in all, a deserved celebration for someone who has given so many people a great deal of pleasure, and a treat for musicals fans of all ages. --Piers Ford

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