A Whole New Song and Dance: Now and Forever, a New Revue, Re-Conceives Andrew Lloyd Webber

By Robert Simonson
15 Jan 2013

Linda Balgord in rehearsal

Dance sequences will also theoretically cause the viewer to pay as much attention to the music as they do to the vocalist. "If it's going to be a show about the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, it has to be about the musicians as much as the singer," said Robin.

Now and Forever took years to get off the ground. "It started with Terry James," the Marriott's executive producer, said Thielen. "He always wanted to do a Lloyd Webber revue." Music of the Night was out there, of course. "I asked several times over the years, about doing Music of the Night. The request was always turned down, because they wanted to keep the concept of a large orchestra on stage. With an arena theatre [like Marriott], that wasn't possible. ...Then, after several successful collaborations with premiere productions of Cats and Sunset Boulevard, Really Useful and Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization approached me with coming up with an all new revue with a more 'theatrical' approach. A list of numbers was forwarded to us to choose from, including music from the new sequel to Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies. The Marriott Theatre's orchestrator and arranger, David Siegel, has re-orchestrated all of the music in Now and Forever." 

Lloyd Webber's representatives let the theatre choose from 40 different songs. Orchestrations were eventually worked out for 30 songs, of which 20 or so will go into Marriott's production. (The hope is that, when and if the show is licensed for further productions, future theatre companies will be able to choose from the 30 available songs and assemble their own version of the show.) 

Audiences can expect a few classics. "Memory" from Cats made the cut, and will be voiced by Linda Balgord, an old Lloyd Webber hand, who starred as Grizabella in the original Broadway production of Cats. Still, Thielen is hoping that theatregoers will hear the song, as well as "Jellicle Ball," also from Cats, anew.

"You take away all the cat costumes, and you hear it in a different way," he said.

("Now and Forever," fans might recall, was the marketing and advertising tagline for the long-running London and Broadway productions of Cats.)

The cast will also include Erin Stewart, Stephanie Binetti, Catherine Lord, Max Quinlan, Ben Jacoby, Brian Bohr, Travis Taylor, Jameson Cooper and Matt Raftery. Dancers include Lauren Blane, Michael Darnell, Ellen Green, Monique Haley, Raymond Interior, Luke Manley, Sam Rogers and Melissa Zaremba.

Also part of the show will be tunes from The Woman in White, Sunset Boulevard, Love Never Dies, Evita and the overture to the little-known Whistle Down the Wind. Lyrics and/or text is by Don Black, Christopher Hampton, Charles Hart, Trevor Nunn (after T.S. Eliot), Tim Rice, Glenn Slater, Richard Stilgoe and David Zippel, with contributions by Amy Powers. As with all new musicals, the preview period and audience response will help determine the shape of the show, and which songs stay — and which go.