1. "As If We Never Said Goodbye" from Sunset Boulevard
Perhaps you've noticed this list is bottom-heavy in terms of Andrew Lloyd Webber's career. I'm far less moved by his later work. It feels to me like as he became more powerful, he was less willing to collaborate, always putting his music first, at the expense of the lyrics and the shows that contained them. I'm keen on much of the music from The Phantom of the Opera and have enjoyed the production on stage, but I don't relate to the songs on a "take-home" level. And Lloyd Webber's later work has been far more "miss" than "hit "for me. One exception was Sunset Boulevard, which I loved as long as Norma was on stage, but found painfully boring and idiotic in its treatment of the B-story with Joe and Betty (and Artie!) outside the mansion. The high point is Norma's return to Paramount Studios — the moment the whole story has built toward — and "As If We Never Said Goodbye" offers an excellent musical realization of this climax.
In a nutshell, divas are my favorite thing in entertainment, Norma is the ultimate faded diva character and this wonderful song is her most tragic, hopeful moment. What could be better? Oh, yes, Patti LuPone playing the part. It's a terrible shame Lloyd Webber fired her from Sunset Boulevard and burned the bridge with the greatest interpreter of his work.
(Ben Rimalower is the author and original star of the critically acclaimed Patti Issues now playing off Off-Broadway. Read Playbill.com's coverage of the solo show here. Visit him at benrimalower.com and follow @benrimalower on Twitter.)
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