Meet the Creators

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Andrew Lloyd Webber

Producer, Composer, Book and Orchestrations

Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of some of the world’s best-known musicals including Cats, EvitaJoseph and the Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatJesus Christ SuperstarThe Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard. His latest musical, the hit stage version of the movie “School of Rock”, opened on Broadway in December 2015.

His awards, both as composer and producer, include seven Tonys,seven Oliviers, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, the Praemium Imperiale, theRichard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre, a BASCAFellowship, the Kennedy Center Honor and a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Requiem, his setting of the Latin Requiem mass which contains one of his best known compositions, Pie Jesu.

He owns seven London theatres including the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the London Palladium.

He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1992 and created an honorary member of the House of Lords in 1997.

He is passionate about the importance of music in education and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has become one of Britain’s leading charities supporting the arts and music.

TS Eliot

T.S. Eliot

Poet

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St Louis, Missouri, on September 26, 1888, the youngest of seven children. The family is of English origin, the American line descending from Andrew Eliot who went to Massachusetts from the Somerset village of East Coker in the 17th Century.

T.S. Eliot was educated at Harvard, at the Sorbonne in Paris, and at Merion College, Oxford. His early poetry was profoundly influenced by the French symbolists, especially Baudelaire and Laforgue. In his academic studies he specialised in philosophy and logic. His doctorial thesis was on F.H. Bradley.

He settled in England in 1915, the year in which he married, and also met his contemporary Ezra Pound for the first time. He taught briefly at High Wycombe Grammar School. and in 1916 spent four years at Highgate Junior School, where John Betjeman, aged ten, was one of his pupils.

In March 1917 he joined Lloyd bank in the City of London, in the foreign and colonial department. In this year he published his first volume of poems. Prufrock and Other Observations. His second book,Poems, 1919 was hand-printed by Leonard and Virginia Woolf. The Secret Wood, a collection of critical essays, appeared in 1920. His most famous work, The Wasted Land, came out in 1922 in the first issue of the quarterly The Criterion, which he edited. Three years later he left the bank to become a director of the publishing House of Faber.

There have been various collected editions of his poems, and volumes of his literary and social criticisms, notably Selected Essays, On Poetry and Poets and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture.

During the nineteen-twenties he frequented the ballet, the theatre and the London music halls, especially the Palladium. He wrote a celebrated tribute to Marie Lloyd on her death in 1922. His verse writing for the theatre began with Sweeney Agonistes fragments in 1927. He wrote London churches’ pageant play The Rock in 1934. Murder in the Cathedral, about the martyrdom of Thomas Becket, was commissioned for the Canterbury Festival of 1935. It was later filmed. The Family Reunion was first performed at the Westminster Theatre in 1939, with Michael Redgrave as Lord Monchensey. Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats appeared in October 1939. (Possum was Eliot’s alias among his friends).Four Quartets, now generally regarded as his masterpiece, began with Burn Norton in 1936; continued with East Coker in 1940, The Dry Salvages in 1941 and Little Gigging in 1942. The separate poems were gathered together in 1943.

Eliot received the Order of Merit in January 1948, and in the autumn of the same year was awarded the Nobel Prize For Literature. Among many other honours and distinctions he was an Officier de La Legion D’Honneur. He was awarded the Hanseatic Goethe Prize 1954, and the Dante Gold Medal 1959.

He subsequently wrote three more verse plays, each of which had its premiere at the Edinburgh Festival: The Cocktail Party 1949, The Confidential Clerk 1953 and The Elder Statesman 1958.

Eliot married for the second time in 1957. He died in London in January 1965. The is a memorial to him in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, beside those to Tennyson and Browning. His ashes rest in St Michael’s Church, East Coker.

Trevor Nunn

Trevor Nunn

Director

From 1968 to 1986, he was the longest-serving artistic director of the RSC, directing most of the Shakespeare canon, as well as Nicholas Nickleby and Les Misérables. From 1997 to 2003, he was director of the National Theatre, where his productions included: The Merchant of VeniceSummerfolk and The Cherry Orchard, as well as Oklahoma!, My Fair Lady and Anything Goes. He has directed the world premieres of Arcadia, The Coast of Utopia and Rock ‘n’ Roll by Tom Stoppard, and of Cats, Sunset Boulevard, Aspects of Love and Starlight Express by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Other theatre includes: Timon of Athens and Skellig (Young Vic); The Lady From the Sea (Almeida); Hamlet, Richard II and Inherit the Wind (Old Vic); King Lear and The Seagull (RSC); Scenes From a Marriage (Coventry and St James Theatre); A Little Night Music (London/New York); Cyrano de Bergerac, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Kiss Me, Kate (Chichester Festival Theatre); Birdsong (West End); Flare PathRosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, The Tempest and The Lion in Winter (Theatre Royal Haymarket); A Chorus of Disapproval (West End); All That Fall (London/New York) and Relative Values (Theatre Royal Bath/West End).

Opera productions include: Idomeneo, Porgy and Bess, Così fan tutte and Peter Grimes (Glyndebourne and Salzburg) and Kátya Kabanová and Sophie’s Choice (Royal Opera House).

Work for television includes: Antony and Cleopatra, The Comedy of ErrorsMacbeth, Three Sisters, Othello and King Lear; and on film: Hedda, Lady Jane and Twelfth Night.

Gillian Lynne

Gillian Lynne

Associate Director and Choreographer

A seminal influence on British dance and musical theatre, Dame Gillian Lynne started her career in 1942 at age 16 before joining the Sadler’s Wells Ballet Company in 1944 where she became a soloist performing at the newly opened Covent Garden Opera House as detailed in her autobiography A Dancer in Wartime. Her many roles with the soon-to-be renamed Royal Ballet included the Black Queen in Checkmate, the Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty and Queen of the Willis in Giselle.

Following her successful performing career as the star dancer at the London Palladium and on early British TV, as well as being Britain’s foremost exponent of Jazz Dance, Lynne went on to be a leading director/choreographer of her generation. Notable ballet credits include A Simple Man, Lipizzaner and The Brontes for Northern Ballet, Journey for the Bolshoi Ballet, Some You Win for Irek Mukhamedov’s Company and Fool on the Hill for the Australian Ballet.

Best-known for her ground-breaking work on Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, Lynne has directed over 60 productions in the West End and on Broadway, including the UK premiere of Jerry Herman’s Dear World in 2013. She has worked on 11 feature films and 100’s of television productions as producer, director, choreographer or performer.

She has mounted productions of Cats across the world, including productions in New York, Vienna, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Paris, Moscow, Sydney.

Earlier last year she released a landmark exercise DVD aimed at mature audiences entitled Longevity Through Exercise and in October 2014 she recreated Miracle in the Gorbals for the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Lynne has received numerous accolades including two Olivier Awards – the first Award for Outstanding Achievement for her Choreography of Cats in 1981 – while in 2013 she was presented with a Lifetime Achievement ‘Special’ Olivier. Other awards include: Vienna’s Silver Order of Merit, Golden Rose of Montreux Award for The Muppet Show, Samuel G. Engel Television Award (USA) for her conceptual drama The Morte d’Arthur, a BAFTA for her dance drama A Simple Man which she directed for BBC TV, a Moliere Award and The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award from the Royal Academy of Dance who elected her Vice-President in 2012. Lynne was honoured with CBE in 1997 and made DBE in the 2014 New Years Honours List for her services to Dance and Musical Theatre, the first woman to be honoured in this way.

John Napier

John Napier

Designer

John studied fine art at Hornsey College of Art in the early 60s and subsequently theatre design at the Central School of Arts and Crafts under Ralph Koltai.

Musical theatre credits include: Cats, Starlight Express, Les Misérables, Miss Saigon and Sunset Boulevard. These productions have been presented on Broadway and around the world.

Other designs for the West End include: Time, Children of Eden and Jesus Christ Superstar. John designed the Captain EO video, starring Michael Jackson for Disney. He created and co-directed the spectacular Siegfried & Roy Show at the Mirage in Las Vegas, followed by Steven Spielberg’s film Hook.

He is an associate designer of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Notable productions for the RSC include: Macbeth, The Comedy of Errors, King Lear, Once in a Lifetime, The Greeks, Nicholas Nickleby, Hedda Gabler, Peter Pan and Mother Courage and Her Children.

His work at the Royal Court includes: Disconnected, Lear, Big Wolf and Cancer. Productions for the Royal National Theatre include: The Party (Olivier’s last performance at The Old Vic); Equus, later seen worldwide; Trelawny of the ‘Wells’, An Enemy of the People, Peter Pan, Candide and South Pacific.

Opera credits include: Lohengrin and Macbeth for the Royal Opera Covent Garden; Don Giovanni (WNO); Idomeneo for Glyndebourne; The Devils for ENO and Nabucco for the Metropolitan Opera.

Other designs include: Birdsong (West End); Burning Blue at the Haymarket (1996 Olivier Award for Best Set Design); The Tower and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (both at the Almeida); Martin Guerre (West Yorkshire Playhouse and tour); the musical version of Jane Eyre on Broadway; Skellig at the Young Vic; Aladdin at The Old Vic, and the 2007 production of Equus.

Design awards include: four Olivier Awards, a BAFTA, and five Tony Awards for Nicholas Nickleby, Cats, Starlight Express, Les Misérables and Sunset Boulevard. Mr Napier is a member of the American Academy of Achievement, was elected Royal Designer for Industry in 1996 and is an honorary fellow of the London Institute.