Let's Look at the Andrew Lloyd Webber Leading Lady Power Anthem
September 11th, 2017
by Josh Ferri
Andrew Lloyd Webber has three musicals playing on Broadway right now (School of Rock, Cats, & The Phantom of the Opera) and each has a moment where the show’s leading lady takes center stage to sing her face off and think about better days gone by. In Cats, Mamie Parris as Grizabella belts the house down in one breath singing Webber’s most famous song “Memory”; at the Winter Garden, Jenn Gambatese uses the full range and power of her huge voice in Miss Mullins' School of Rock solo about losing touch with yourself, “Where Did the Rock Go”; then there's Ali Ewoldt giving new life to Phantom's big, iconic Christine moment "Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again".
Forget an “I want” song, the leading lady power ballad is the ALW trademark, especially when it involves her looking back, remembering her days in the sun. Scroll on to revisit some of these major musical moments.
Norma Desmond gets two big wistful torch songs! She is introduced with the proud battle cry of “With One Look” then she breaks your heart in Act Two with “As If We Never Said Goodbye”. Both are stunning examples of a tragic heroine whose best days are behind her.
ALW’s big Evita moment, “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina”, is basically a five-minute memoir. She is looking back, telling the highs and lows of the life that led her to the balcony of the Casa Rosada. Then in the film there’s “You Must Love Me”, same idea but sicker and later in the arc.
I also love that ALW gives Peron’s young mistress a big introspective ballad too in Evita. The OG “Playing Nancy” moment.
Jesus Christ Superstar
This one kind of breaks the formula ‘cause Mary’s big solo is in Act One, and she isn’t looking back as much as assessing the current situation and looking ahead into a relationship that can’t work for either of them, but it’s still a beautiful ALW ballad for the leading lady. I suppose you could try to make a case for Act Two’s “Could We Start Again Please” , but I’m not having it—not today, not tomorrow, not Friday at 4.
The Woman in White
The The Woman in White has two leading ladies, and Marian’s big ballad looking back on life and times gone by, "All for Laura", happens in Act One.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Does The Narrator have a rich backstory to look back on? Is there an original musical/origin story waiting to be written about The Narrator?
Song and Dance
This is tough. Song and Dance doesn’t fit the mold because the whole score is this character sharing raw emotion through letters and one-sided conversation. That being said, the show's sweeping, heartbreaking anthem is indisputable.
Aspects of Love
Giulietta’s Act Two song “There Is More To Love” very much fits the mold here, but the superior tune is the big finale “Anything But Lonely”. This power ballad isn’t as much looking back as it is planting herself firmly in the moment. This leading lady sings from a more powerful position within herself: “If you're not here to say/ How good I look each day/ I'll have to find someone who will”. Hell yes! This is a anthem worthy of a fierce ALW leading lady.