In September 2001 China was officially introduced to the works of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber with a gala concert staged at The Great Hall of the People in Tianneman Square.
Boasting an international company and a 60-piece orchestra, the concert — starring Kris Phillips (Fei Xiang), Coco Lee and London's leading musical theatre actress Elaine Paige, who made her long-awaited Broadway debut in Sunset Boulevard in 1996 — was recorded live. PBS stations around the country will begin airing the concert this month as part of their August 2002 pledge drive.
Those in the New York area can view the concert, which features songs from such Lloyd Webber musicals as The Phantom of the Opera, Evita, Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Aspects of Love, Whistle Down the Wind, Jesus Christ Superstar and The Beautiful Game, on WLIW. The PBS affiliate will premiere "Andrew Lloyd Webber: Masterpiece Live from the Great Hall of the People of Beijing" on Aug. 10 at 7 PM. Repeat broadcasts of the 140-minute program are scheduled for Aug. 11 at 1:50 AM and 2:40 PM, Aug. 12 at 9:15 PM and Aug. 15 at 2:35 AM and Aug. 16 at 1 PM. Check local listings.
Eagle Rock Records will also release a CD of the Lloyd Webber songfest on Tuesday, Sept. 24. The release also features bonus DVD performance footage from the history-making concert.
Elaine Paige, who has starred on the London stage in Evita, Cats, Chess, Anything Goes, Piaf, Sunset Boulevard and The King and I, performs seven Lloyd Webber tunes on the upcoming TV broadcast, including "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," "The Heart Is Slow to Learn," "Memory," "The Perfect Year," "As If We Never Said Goodbye," "No Matter What" and the duet "Friends for Life" with Phillips. This concert had been previously issued on DVD and VHS (Pal format only) and is still available on-line from such U.K. record/video outlets as Dress Circle (www.dresscircle.co.uk) or Black Star (www.blackstar.co.uk). The DVD/VHS was also released in the U.S. under the title "The Best of Andrew Lloyd Webber (Live in China)" and is available on-line at amazon.com.
—By Andrew Gans