Millionaire composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has been battling with a mysterious abdominal illness for the past decade, he revealed in an interview with the Radio Times published yesterday.
Lloyd Webber missed the tenth anniversary celebrations for the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera in January when he checked himself in to a London hospital for two nights and a series of tests. As Playbill On-line reported at the time, a spokesman for Lloyd Webber said that his condition was not serious and was merely resting up for a number of upcoming events, including his 50th birthday this weekend (22 March) and the official celebration on 7 April.
However, Lloyd Webber admits in the Radio Times interview that his condition, which includes "inexplicable flu-like symptoms" and leaves him weak and tired, is in fact much more serious. The composer first became unwell ten years ago when his show Aspects of Love opened. Suspecting that it might be allergy related, doctors subjected him to a number of tests and dietary restrictions with little effect. A New York doctor said that he'd somewhere picked up "an amoeba" and prescribed strong drugs which helped the symptoms abate. Unfortunately, they returned again last September.
Lloyd Webber says that he will curtail his business involvement with his Really Useful Group but will continue to compose. "My doctor says I've got to cancel everything," he says. "But I can't do that." His newest musical, Whistle Down the Wind, opens in the West End in July.
The composer's spokesman again played down the significance of the latest revelation on Lloyd Webber's health saying it wasn't as poor as it sounded. He said that, following the opening of Whistle Down the Wind, Lloyd Webber will spend three months this summer working on the music for Phantom II.