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Galas: Lloyd Webber 60th, Don Black 70th, Old Vic

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The UK’s most famous living musical theatre composer Andrew Lloyd Webber will have his 60th birthday (which took place on 22 March) commemorated next month care of the BBC with a star-studded concert in Hyde Park. John Barrowman, who has appeared as a judge on all three of Lloyd Webber’s musical theatre TV casting programmes to date on the BBC, will host the one-off event, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Birthday in the Park, on Sunday 14 September 2008.

Lee Mead, winner of Any Dream Will Do, last year’s BBC One competition to find the lead for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I’d Do Anything finalists from this year’s contest to cast Nancy in Oliver! will perform live alongside West End stars such as Elaine Paige, Idina Menzel, Steve Balsamo and Duncan James (formerly of Blue). Other stars so far confirmed included X-Factor’s Rhydian Jones, Joss Stone, teen soprano Hayley Westenra and the composer’s brother, cellist Julian Lloyd Webber.

The evening will include performances of “I Don‘t Know How to Love Him”, “Another Suitcase”, “Don‘t Cry for Me Argentina”, “Memory”, “Music of the Night”, “All I Ask of You”, “Love Changes Everything”, “No Matter What”, “As If We Never Said Goodbye”, “Any Dream Will Do” and other songs from Lloyd Webber shows including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, Starlight Express, The Phantom of the Opera, Aspects of Love and Sunset Boulevard.

The 70-piece BBC Concert Orchestra and the 100-strong Crouch End Festival Chorus will accompany the soloists. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Birthday in the Park starts at 6pm and ends with a firework finale. Tickets cost £25 and can be booked by calling 0844 412 4638. The concert will also be broadcast on the BBC Radio 2 programme Friday Night Is Music Night on the 10 October 2008.

Ahead of the Hyde Park event, the 70th birthday of one of Lloyd Webber’s frequent collaborators, lyricist Don Black, will be celebrated this Sunday 17 August 2008 with a concert at the London Palladium, which will also be broadcast on Friday Night Is Music Night, on Friday 22 August.

This Sunday’s event will be hosted by Michael Parkinson and will include performances from Lloyd Webber-Black collaborations Aspects of Love, Sunset Boulevard and Tell Me on a Sunday as well as other stage shows such as Billy and a sneak preview of The Count of Monte Cristo, which Black is currently working on with French composer Michel Legrand.

Black has also written myriad songs for film and television, not least the James Bond theme “Diamonds Are Forever” and the Oscar-winning “Born Free”. Lee Mead will also perform on Sunday, alongside West End favourites including Maria Friedman, Jersey BoysRyan Molloy, Zorro’s Matt Rawle and pop stars Mica Paris, Gary Barlow and Craig David. Tickets, ranging from £25 to £50, can be booked on 0844 412 4655.

Finally, further ahead, the Old Vic will hold a fundraising gala on 12 October 2008, entitled Drama Queens. In the collaboration with international artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, six famous sculptures from the 20th century will come to life, voiced by actors including Old Vic artistic director Kevin Spacey. Money raised will go towards Old Vic creative development projects, including one exploring crossovers between visual artists and theatre practitioners.

Tickets for the 45-minute performance – which takes place in the main auditorium, reconfigured in-the-round for the upcoming revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests - are priced at £10 and £15, with a limited number of VIP packages costing £250. The event can be booked by calling 020 8544 7401.

- by Terri Paddock


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