Andrew Lloyd Webber Eyes a Russian Classic for New Musical | Playbill

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News Andrew Lloyd Webber Eyes a Russian Classic for New Musical A cat and Jesus Christ are elements in a novel that the composer of Cats and Jesus Christ Superstar wants to musicalize.
Andrew Lloyd Webber
Andrew Lloyd Webber Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The Daily Mail reported Andrew Lloyd Webber plans to write a musical based on the Russian novel, "The Master and Margarita," Mikhail Bulgakov's fantastical tale of the Devil, a talking cat, Christ and Pontius Pilate, a tormented writer named Master and a girlfriend named Margarita, who becomes a witch.

A Faustian tale that satirizes the oppressive Stalin regime, the novel is considered a major work of 20th century Russian literature.

The Daily Mail's Baz Bamigboye broke the news of Lloyd Webber's hope Aug. 25, citing the composer himself. Lloyd Webber's recent The Woman in White was also based on a novel, as was his Aspects of Love and The Phantom of the Opera.

"The Master and Margarita," about Satan's visit to Soviet Moscow, was first started in the late 1920s and was burned by the author and then restarted. After his death in 1940, the book was published in various forms — in a censored edition in 1967-68 and later in a definitive text that drew on various versions.

Jean-Claude van Itallie adapted the book into a stage version, called Mikhail Bulgakov's Master & Margarita or, The Devil Comes to Moscow. Lloyd Webber is currently host of the BBC TV competition show, "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?," in which he judges singer-actresses for their suitability to star in the new West End staging of The Sound of Music he will produce.

Lloyd Webber entered the following entry in his blog Aug. 25: "After six months of agonising about what I should write next I am going to attempt the impossible. I am going to see if I can turn Mikhail Bulgakov's extraordinary novel 'The Master and Margarita' into a stage musical or, more probably, an opera.

"I know it has been done many times before but never, that I am aware of completely in music.

"Bulgakov's novel is a fantastical satire of Soviet life which begins with Satan visiting Moscow in fancy dress. He falls into conversation with a critic and a poet who are debating the existence of Jesus Christ and the Devil. Accompanied by a disorderly band of followers, which includes a tom cat, Satan begins to create havoc. Disappearances, destruction and death spread through the city and the beautiful and courageous Margarita discovers her lover has vanished into the chaos. Making a pact with the devil, she decides to try a little black magic of her own to save the man she loves.

"I am very aware that this will be almost certainly the most ambitious undertaking I have ever embarked upon. It will therefore almost certainly falter and will depend on who my collaborators are. At the moment I have not approached anyone."


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