Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Andrew Lloyd Webber Masterpiece|
Actors: Elaine Paige, Sandy Lam, Fei Xiang, Tony Vincent, Belinda Allchin
Director: Jo-Anne Robinson
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
For the first time in China, The Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber is presented in concert as a world-class showcase incorporating the best-known and best-loved songs from Lloyd Webber's internationally acclaimed stage musicals,... more »
MASTERPIECE WITHOUT A DOUBT
Marijan Bosnar | Croatia | 01/16/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Regardless of the fact that some of his latest efforts (most notably, The Woman in White) are disappointing, there can be little doubt that Andrew Lloyd Webber is one of the greatest composers ever to work in the musical theatre. Ever since his "Jesus Christ Superstar" hit the stage in the early 70-is, it was clear that the conception and perception of musicals are never going to be the same again. Many of his songs became standards not only in the theatre history, but also as tops on the charts. Even though he's British, his influence on the shape of the modern musical theatre expanded over the West End boundaries long ago and has thus made an enormous impact on Broadway. Two of his shows ("Cats" and "The phantom of the opera") hold the record as two the longest running shows in the history of Broadway. He has also been the only composer to have three of his shows running at Broadway concurrently. Some of his awards include three Grammies, a Golden Globe, an Oscar and a bunch of Tony awards. But perhaps most of all, Lloyd Webber is responsible for bringing the musicals and the theatre appealing to the wide audiences, who in different circumstances would not consider seeing a musical. The secret of his success is probably the mixture of beautiful and catchy melodies, interesting subject matter (though some, like Starlight Express, are too thin) and grandiose staging.
And even though his shows have been staged all over the world, China has somehow been left out. Until 2001, that is, when the idea came about to put together a big concert of ALW's greatest hits for the people of Beijing. This over 2-hour DVD is the recording of that magical evening that took place in the Great hall of the people, the big conference hall in Beijing, specially re-worked to fit the big orchestra and the performers. The people familiar with ALW's recordings will most certainly draw a parallel with a similar concert DVD, The Royal Albert Hall Celebration, recorded in 1998, as a tribute to ALW's 50th birthday. Although some similarities with the repertoire do exist, there are many novelties here for us to enjoy.
First, the cast in this Beijing concert does not boast with so many big names, but this is not a drawback. The only real celebrity here is Elaine Paige, the one and only first lady of the British musical theatre, who starred in many ALW's shows (original West End Evita in 1978, original West End Grizabella in Cats in 1981, Sunset Boulevard's Norma Desmond both on Broadway and in the West End). Elaine gives a strong lead here. Her soprano is terrific in most of the songs, even though her Don't cry for me Argentina sounds too thin (after all, Elaine hasn't got the big voice of Patti LuPone). Her rendition of As if we never said goodbye from Sunset Boulevard is particularly worth mentioning, since it is much better than over-the-top/vocally weak performance Glenn Close gave on the Royal Albert Hall DVD.
The leading male stare is Kris Phillips (Fei Xiang), a Chinese-British star from lots of ALW's productions. Phillips has the right stage presence and a good singing voice, thus justifying the fact he is the most featured artist of the concert. He is exceptional in some parts (The Phantom of the opera, Joseph), while good at others (JC Superstar). The third male lead is the young and handsome Tony Vincent, who can be seen at the 2001 video recording of Superstar, playing Simon Zelotes. He gets to sing Superstar, The money kept rolling in from Evita and joins Paige and Phillips in Friends for life.
Some of the other songs are sung by the young and unknown singers, gathered by the process of auditioning. No problem with that, since they are all exceptional vocalists. The girl who sings Wishing you were somehow here again from The Phantom is thrilling, much better than Emmy Rossum in the movie version.
As for the repertoire, all the shows (minus By Jeeves and Starlight Express) ALW wrote until then are there. We are treated with some of the rarely performed stuff, such as Macavity: The mystery cat, The money kept rolling in and Take that look of your face from Song & Dance. Of course, the big tunes such as Memory, The Phantom songs, Love changes everything from Aspects of Love, together with a nice instrumental medley of the melodies from the latter show, are all there. The concert is nicely wrapped up with Friends for life-Amigos para siempre, a song ALW was asked to write for the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, here sung partly in Chinese.
If anything, this DVD proves another important fact. For a long time, ALW's detractors have been claiming he writes empty spectacles that heavily rely on big names and imposing stage sets. This DVD proves just the opposite. Take away all the sets, costumes and star names, assemble some talented singers and what you do get is outstanding melodies written by the man who managed to find the way to the modern musical theatre lovers like no other composer of modern times. Here the music is free to speak for itself. And it does so in a most convincing way.
If you love ALW's music, or simply are into modern musicals, be sure to check this out.
A spirited performance
dan_y_wong | Bellevue, WA United States | 01/05/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen both this DVD and the Royal Albert Hall concert DVD. Its true the singers in the Albert Hall performance are more famous and accomplished but the stars in this one is more energetic and spirited. I think Tony Vincent and Chris Philips both gave performances that are passionate and fresh. After watching the behind-the-scene documentary of this production (a very interesting piece by itself), I have a much greater appreciation of this endeavour. After all, this is the first time ALW's music is introduced to China. Although its not perfect, I will give this DVD a big thumbs up for its trail blazing effort."
NewFan | Toronto, Canada | 01/11/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I bought this DVD last week after seeing the show in Toronto. At first I was a little disappointed as the DVD was not featuring the performers from Toronto. However I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the Beijing performance. It does take a bit of adjusting as I was not familiar with K. Philips, however I found both lead performers have unique styles and great voices. The performers not only sang, but I believed they were trying to 'act' out the scene and poured in a lot of emotions. Contrary to another review I read on this site, K. Philips did not come across arrogant but rather intriguing and delivered superbly."
Not the best concert ever but not bad at all...
Karn R. | Bangkok, Thailand | 10/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Masterpiece: The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber live in Beijing took place at the Great Hall of the People on September 2001. Though there are some really bad reviews about this DVD, I think that this is another concert DVD that musical fans should own.
This concert features songs from almost all the work by Webber including the latest show by Webber back then which was "The Beautiful Game". Missing only Starlight Express and By Jeeves.
What impresses me about this DVD is the selection of songs performed in the concert. This concert chooses good songs that usually left out. Good songs like "And the Money Kept Rolling In and Out", "Macavity", "The Perfect Year", "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again", etc.
Moving on to the performers in this concert, there are 4 main singers here: two from England and two from China. Elaine Paige is the main star of the concert. She performs songs from shows that made her famous: Evita, Cats and Sunset Boulevard. To me, her voice in the Royal Albert Hall Concert was in a better shape but she still did really well and pretty much stole the whole show. After all, she's the main star of the night. But I think her best number of the night was "The Heart Is Slow to Learn" which was performed in the Royal Albert Hall by Kiri Te Kanawa.
Tony Vincent, of We Will Rock You and Broadway Revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, is another main singer from the west. He sings two songs: "Superstar" and "And the Money Kept Rolling". I saw him before as Simon in the Jesus Christ Superstar DVD and really like his talents. He didn't disappoint me at all.
Kris Philips (Fei Xiang) is a Chinese singer-actor who has performed in the Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber Concert in US before. He has a nice voice but I think that what went wrong is his selection of songs. He really nailed it in songs like "Gethsemane", "The Perfect Year" and his "Music of the Night" is fine. But his take on "Any Dream Will Do" and "The Phantom of the Opera" is just kinda strange to me.
Sandy Lam is our last main singer. She has two solos just like Tony Vincent. I don't like her "I Don't Know How to Love Him" at all while her "Whistle Down the Wind" is ok.
After the 4 main singers, there are also about 12-16 ensemble and some of them get to sing solo. The ones who really impress me are Helen Walsh who blew me away with "Take That Look Off Your Face" and Lisa Crosato with her rendition of "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again" and "All I Ask of You". The best part is both girls get to sing a duet together in "Pie Jesu", a very lovely and beautiful song. You can say it's my favourite song of the whole show.
Then again some soloists are just bad. For example, the girl who sings "The Phantom of the Opera" with Kris Philips or the guy who sings the lead in "Love Changes Everything". Still there are some nice ensemble numbers such as medley of "Let Us Love In Peace" and "Our Kind of Love" from The Beautiful Game.
Overall, this concert has its pros and cons. To compare it with the Royal Albert Hall Concert, I would have to say that the RAH has more stars singing the roles that made them famous like Sarah Brightman, Glenn Close, Donny Osmond and even Boyzone. While this concert offers a more interesting variety of songs but the production might be a bit cheap. Still, I admire how they put the whole thing together with all the troubles in China as you can see in the Making Of... documentary in the extra feature.
Final word, I think this is a nice DVD to add to your collection if you are a fan of musicals. But if you're thinking of picking between the Royal Albert Hall and this one, Pick the Royal Albert Hall first and then this one if you have money left."