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Stars of the stage celebrate Andrew Lloyd Webber's 70th birthday

The composer's hits include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Phantom of the Opera

Cameron Mackintosh and Andrew Lloyd Webber
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

With the continuing success of his shows including Evita, The Phantom of the Opera and School of Rock, the release of his first memoir Unmasked and turning 70, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber is having 'the perfect year'.

To celebrate the occasion, stars of the stage have been sharing their congratulations and 'memories' of time spent with the multi-award winning impresario.

Talking to WhatsOnStage, Gina Beck, who starred as Christine Daaé in The Phantom of the Opera, said: "I got to sit next to him at a dinner concert I was singing at in my home town a couple of years ago. I was too nervous to eat anything in case he asked me a question and I had my mouth full!"

Referring to Lloyd Webber's work with younger artists, she added: "The concert was for a youth musical theatre choir. He's always been extremely supportive of young people in the arts."

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Forster
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

Jesus Christ Superstar alumni Ben Forster told us: "Andrew is a pure musical genius. I'm always in awe when I'm working with him and even when he walks in a room you can sense his presence.

"Our musical theatre world would not be the same without him. He's an icon who I know will be played forever."

Paul Taylor-Mills, artistic director of Lloyd Webber's new musicals theatre The Other Palace, recalled an afternoon at the composer's Sydmonton house: "I was having a roast dinner with Andrew, Lin- Manuel Miranda and Larry O'Keefe. After dinner, Andrew and Lin went over to the piano and started playing with an alternative number for Martha in Heathers.

"Lin's son Sebastian was sat between them both playing random notes and they just continued to work with whatever Sebastian threw their way. It was one of those moments where you wonder how you ended up in a room with these three extraordinary legends. Happy Birthday, boss!"

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sophie Evans
© Dan Wooller for WhatsOnStage

When Danielle Hope pipped Sophie Evans to the winner spot on Lloyd Webber's TV talent show Over the Rainbow, the Wicked star's hopes of walking the Yellow Brick Road were all but lost. Until Lloyd Webber phoned her mum with some good news.

"We were in the car driving home from London the day after the final," the Welsh actress tells us, "when Andrew phoned and told my mum that he was going to put me through a few months at Arts Ed, and that I'd play the alternate Dorothy. We were beside ourselves."

Phantom and Love Never Dies star Kieran Brown told us about the time he asked Andrew for a photo: "It was the closing night of Love Never Dies and I pitched him the idea of Phantom 3: Gustave's Revenge. He said he'd need time to think about it. I finally plucked up the courage to ask him for a photo and managed to get his reaction in the picture below, but it turned out blurry!''

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kieran Brown at the closing night of Love Never Dies

Casts from his productions around the world also came together to send their best wishes.

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