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Andrew Lloyd Webber teases West End Phantom changes and discusses Cinderella premiere

The composer chatted to Zoe Ball as part of an all-out celebration of musicals on BBC Radio 2

Andrew Lloyd Webber (left) during a Phantom curtain call
© Dan Wooller

Andrew Lloyd Webber hit the airwaves this morning to chat all things musicals with Zoe Ball on BBC Radio 2.

Loyd Webber discussed the return of his megamusical The Phantom of the Opera, which was, like a variety of others, closed by the onset of the pandemic last spring.

The composer teased exciting new things for the piece, which has its home at Her Majesty's Theatre on Haymarket – where it has been since the '80s.

Lloyd Webber said that the show, when it returns this year (the current opening date is early June), will be "even better than ever" and that he had been in the venue with co-producer Cameron Mackintosh yesterday to discuss plans, with "a lot of things" in the theatre being done to make it "more Phantom-like". Previous reports have said that "a brand new physical production" of the original creative team's vision will be seen later this year.

That isn't the only project that the writer is working on however – he is gearing up to premiere his new musical Cinderella, which is due to begin performances at the Gillian Lynne Theatre later this year.

Though, naturally, uncertainty remains over a clear premiere date (Lloyd Webber says this depends almost entirely on a vaccine roll-out speed), the composer is doing a lot of work to his theatres, to make sure they are "safe, clean and as well ventilated as possible".

Audiences can also look forward to the show's cast album, which is currently set to be released in April and features a variety of guest stars alongside the show's company.

Lloyd Webber heaped dollops of praise on lead Carrie Hope Fletcher, who, he says, was offered the role without an audition, after the composer watched her lead the UK premiere of Heathers at his venue The Other Palace. He describes her as "the perfect fit" and "really terrific" in a "fairly alternative" twist on the classic fairytale.

A lot of this alternative spin comes from book-writer Emerald Fennell – whose film Promising Young Woman will, according to Lloyd Webber "probably win her an Oscar". Fennell also played Camilla Parker Bowles in seasons three and four of The Crown.

Lloyd Webber and his musicals are taking part in BBC Radio 2's all-out musical celebration across this weekend – find out more here.

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