Sailing With The King Of Broadway: History Spotlight

By Robert Schrader | Published on December 01, 2021

As impressive and wide-ranging as the works of the King of Broadway might be, the career of legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber might not seem relevant to your next cruise, but the fact that he's written more than a dozen musicals means that his timeless songs are almost certain to intersect with your on-board entertainment experience. Even if you don't set out to see Broadway at sea or book one of the "Oasis Class" ships where performances are guaranteed, you may be surprised by how much of his work you already know.

The King Of Broadway

Although he's known as Broadway's reigning king now and his works are hailed for reimagining the scope of what a musical can be, Lloyd Webber wasn't initially successful. "The Likes of Us," which was the first project by Lloyd Webber and his writing partner, Tim Rice, was rejected before "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" was performed in 1967. "Jesus Christ Superstar" became an even bigger hit just three years later.

Lloyd Webber and Rice's shows became fixtures of Broadway over the next decades, with their shows including captivating subject matter and musical styles that appealed to people all over the world. Shows incuding "Evita," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Cats" became some of the biggest smashes of the 1970s and 1980s, with songs such as "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and "Memory" becoming well-known far beyond the stage. Several of their shows, including "Phantom" and "Cats," have become films, and Lloyd Webber has become one of Broadway's most decorated composers, having won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and several Grammy Awards in addition to more than half a dozen Tonys.

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Most Famous Works

Oasis of the Seas Broadway Musical Cats
Broadway Musical Cats Performers


How Lloyd Webber made an old T.S. Eliot story into the world's first "megamusical"

Based on a somewhat obscure 1939 poetry book by T.S. Eliot, "Cats" became one of the longest-running musicals in the world, and many critics now say it ushered in the so-called megamusical era. Lloyd Webber and Rice worked on the story and songs for more than four years in the lead-up to the musical's premiere, which took place at the New London Theatre in 1981.

The success of "Cats" extended beyond Broadway. It was performed nearly 9,000 times over 20 years in London alone, and the song "Memory" became a piano bar fixture during the 1980s after being recorded by some of the most popular stars of all time, including Barbra Streisand. Even if your ship doesn't have a stage for Broadway performances, you may end up hearing this classic showtune at some point during your voyage at the karaoke bar.

Eva Peron Argentina
Eva Peron Argentina


Shining a light on Argentina's most infamous female historical figure

The musical "Evita" is one case where the subject of one of Lloyd Webber's musicals became famous beyond the show. "Evita" was based on the life of Eva Perón, a former first lady of Argentina who was well-known (if not always loved) in her homeland but not a household name in other parts of the world. However, since the musical premiered on London's West End in 1978, the name "Evita" has become much more familiar to pop culture fans.

In 1996, "Evita" became a major Hollywood movie starring someone who is royalty in her own right: Madonna. If songs like "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and "You Must Love Me" weren't already part of the pop music lexicon by this point, they certainly became so after the movie was released. The film won an Academy Award and multiple Golden Globes, adding to Lloyd Webber's row of statuettes for the musical, which already included six Tony Awards from the 1980 ceremony.

Jesus Christ Superstar

The Bible comes alive with fabulous 1970s flair

If you were a fan of musicals during the rebellious era of the 1960s, you might not have imagined that a show based on the Bible would become one of the biggest hits of the era just a few years later. However, "Jesus Christ Superstar," the second major musical by Lloyd Webber (and his third overall if you count "The Likes of Us") defied the odds when it opened in London in 1970.

Even if you're not a particularly religious person, it's difficult not to sing along to songs like "Everything's Alright" and "King Herod's Song." These classic songs not only add color to well-known Bible stories but also humanize characters from the Bible's text as well as commenting on sociopolitical issues from the 1960s and 1970s. Although it achieved financial success, the original production missed out on Tony Awards nominations. Despite this, the show is a musical staple and you may be able to enjoy this show or at the very least encounter songs from it during your next cruise.

Lloyd Webber and Rice's shows became fixtures of Broadway over the next decades, with their shows including captivating subject matter and musical styles that appealed to people all over the world.

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

The King of Broadway's first hit

Like "Jesus Christ Superstar," 1967's "Joseph" is based on the Bible, in this case centering on the "coat of many colors" story. (Coincidentally, this is also the title of a popular Dolly Parton song released around the same time, though the two aren't related.) The most famous song from this show is "Any Dream Will Do."

The soundtrack of the show was released in 1968, then the show was staged in London's West End in 1973 and Broadway in 1982. By the time it arrived on Broadway, Lloyd Webber was a household name and a legend among theater aficionados, so many of his fans came to discover and appreciate his first major work years after it first premiered.

Piano Musician
Piano Musician

The Phantom Of The Opera

Andrew Lloyd Webber's masterpiece

You don't need to be a scholar of Broadway history to recognize the mask from "The Phantom of the Opera" or to recognize legendary songs from the production. Songs like "All I Ask Of You," "Think of Me" and the title track have become pop culture fixtures. This is thanks in part to the fact that Lloyd Webber's musical adaptation of the 1910 Gaston Leroux novel of the same name has been performed live for over 130 million people in nearly 30 countries since its 1986 debut. It's been performed over 10,000 times on Broadway alone.

"Phantom," which was the highest-grossing production of all time until "The Lion King" dethroned it in 2014, was adapted as a film in 2004. The cast recording of the original 1986 production has gone quadruple-platinum in the United States, and the show won the 1988 Tony Award for best musical. The musical has grossed more than $6 billion worldwide and $1 billion on Broadway alone. Of all Lloyd Webber's famous works, this is the one you're most likely to encounter during your cruise in one form or another.

Oasis of the Seas Spotlight Karaoke Kids Singing Family Time
Oasis of the Seas Spotlight Karaoke Kids Singing Family Time

How To Be Entertained On Your Next Cruise

It's not guaranteed that your next cruise will feature Broadway shows, let alone the works of Andrew Lloyd Webber, but one thing's for sure: Whether you sail to the private island of Perfect Day at CocoCay, the timeless cities of the Mediterranean or popular spring break destinations like Cancun and Cozumel, you won't be bored for a moment. Whether you catch a live performance or entertain your taste buds with legendary cuisine and mixed drinks, entertainment is included with every cruise.

Want to sing along to your favorite "Phantom of the Opera" tunes without leaving your room? You can take advantage of onboard wireless internet to watch Broadway classics via your favorite streaming services. Some cruise ships even offer a new "Spotlight Karaoke" option, which is perfect for showtune singers who do want an audience. When you sing "Memory" from "Cats," you'll make great memories and meet fellow Broadway fans.


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