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SUMMIT 2021: AND YOUR KEYNOTE SPEAKER IS…

Written By Melvin Tunstall III

ANDREW.

LLOYD.

WEBBER.

 

Wait, WHAT?! Excuse me? Are you serious right now?! 

Why yes, TheaterMaker, we are quite serious. 

After months of planning, weeks of waiting, and counting down the days- your Keynote speaker has been revealed!

He broke the internet recently by manning a DJ booth in Times Square and blasting techno-pop remixes to herald the return of Broadway’s current reigning champion, The Phantom of the Opera- still going strong after more than 13,000 (!) performances- and this weekend, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber will step in front of the camera to deliver our Keynote address and take questions from YOU!

“I’ve had the great fortune of working with Andrew Lloyd Webber over the past several years, and every moment of that time, every conversation, every note, every observation, has been a master class in theatermaking, Now, thanks to his dedication to new voices in the theater, theatermakers all over the world will have an opportunity to hear his exceptional insights on making theater and making better theater now . . . and forever.”

-Ken Davenport, founder

Speaking of Webber’s “dedication to new voices in the theater, we are also THRILLED to announce that one of theater’s most exciting new voices, EMILY BEAR, will be moderating our discussion with Sir Andrew! That’s right, she of the Bridgerton musical craze on TikTok (along with Abigail Barlow) will join us and facilitate your questions to our keynote speaker. 

Ready to JOIN US AT THE SUMMIT now??!

My personal Andrew Lloyd Webber stories go way back to my FIRST trip to New York City in the late 1900s. That’s right, Zoomer generation, I’ve accepted that the “late 1990s” is indeed when I was a teenager. However, Phantom of the Opera wasn’t the first Broadway show I saw, it was the 2nd. The honor of being my first belongs to Les Miserables. I was sitting in the 2nd row within spitting distance of Val Jean during his infamous 24601 high note in which his saliva landed in my lap- no lie. I consider this my “Broadway blessing” to this day. That experience would have been hard to top were it not for those Hal Leonard medleys from Broadway shows we used to sing in choir. 

I was absolutely OBSESSED with Leonard’s medley from Phantom. “All I Ask of You,” “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again,” “Music of the Night,” and the title song all wrapped into one glorious arrangement was not just music of the night, it was music for my soul. When we sat in the theater and that iconic chandelier fell from the heavens, I knew even more that Broadway was where I wanted to be. Mark Jacoby (whose son Ben I worked with on Beautiful: The Carole King Musical) was my 1st Phantom. Rebecca Luker (pictured below, RIP) my Christine Daaé. Hugh Panaro my Raoul.  But the star is and always will be Webber’s majestic score. 

Years later, when I made my 2nd move to New York City following the events of 9/11, one of my survival jobs was with the Theater Refreshment Company, where I was hired to be a “Broadway Bartender” at various Shubert Theaters. We were known for hopping from one show to another, but my longest stint was at the Majestic, where I slung drinks for over 3 months. 

Hearing Webber’s score nightly taught me the power of “getting it right.” No matter if you are a fan or not, Webber’s influence is undeniable. The fact that decades later Phantom is still bringing audiences to their feet and Sir Andrew is still bringing us brand new theater (Cinderella is doing incredible business on the West End with a Broadway run all but announced), is a testament to the man himself, and this weekend, YOU have a chance to hear directly from the mastermind.

GET.

YOUR.

TICKET.

TODAY.

See you at the Summit, TheaterMakers!


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