Lloyd Webber Talks Reality TV, U.S. Wizard Of Oz and Arena Tour of Jesus Christ Superstar
By Mark Shenton
Andrew Lloyd Webber, who helped create the juggernaut of using reality TV programs with the public choosing the leads for West End musicals, has signaled an end to his involvement in them.
In an interview in Britain's Daily Telegraph, he remarked, "I don't know if I will do any more talent shows in the UK. With Love Never Dies going around the world I don't think I'm going to have any time to get another new production up. Also, there are only so many roles you can cast in that way."
But he went on to say that there is still mileage for it in the U.S., and hopes to use it to cast The Wizard of Oz there and take Dorothy back to Kansas. He commented, "'The X Factor' juggernaut is going to be huge there next year but other networks are looking for something to go against it. Once we've found a Dorothy in the U.S., my instinct is to open the show in Kansas."
After launching his star search with "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" to find a star for a new production of The Sound of Music that he brought to the London Palladium in 2006 with winner Connie Fisher as Maria, he has gone on to be lead judge for the casting shows "Any Dream Will Do" and "Over the Rainbow," which produced the leads for his productions of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (won by Lee Mead) and now The Wizard of Oz (won by Danielle Hope, beginning performances at the London Palladium Feb. 7, prior to an official opening March 1). He has also appeared as lead judge for "I'd Do Anything," a casting search for the lead for Cameron Mackintosh's current West End production of Oliver! (won by Jodie Prenger, who has since departed the show that is still running at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane through Jan. 8).
Lloyd Webber also revealed that he is developing a world arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, "to go back to its rock roots." He also commented, "Every major artist I've spoken to has said they want to be in it. I'm not going to name names, but I'm getting demo tapes from some of the top artists in the world. It's extraordinary. We want to play 200 arenas in America and they are planning the route for the U.S. tour already. Then, hopefully, there will be a world tour, going through the O2 in England. I'm very excited about it."
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