Greatest hits of Andrew Lloyd Webber won't win converts

January 08, 1992|By Mike Giuliano

The master of the overblown techno-musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber, sure composes shows that are big and loud. Even a concert version compilation of his greatest hits packs an aural wallop. But is it really music to the ears or just passable pop at high decibel levels?

"The Music of Andrew Lloyd Webber," which opened at the Lyric Opera House last night and remains there through Sunday, isn't likely to win any converts among those of us who swoon at Sondheim and wince at Webber. Still, the hefty 37-member orchestra, 12 vocalists and star Michael Crawford (aka "The Phantom of the Opera") ably run through Webber's hits without having to worry about any costumes or props. In fact, the only fur to be seen during the "Cats" selections were the fur coats worn by many audience members on a chilly night.

Although the show got off to a bombastic, Bible-goes-Vegas start with numbers from "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," it was soon saved by Janet Metz's goose bump-raising rendition of the justly famous ballad "Memory" from "Cats." When the maskless Crawford finally took the stage nearly an hour into the evening, his barrel chest proudly extending and his baritone effortlessly rising to falsetto heights, he wowed us all.

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