Andrew Lloyd Webber Plans New 'Cinderella' Musical Project (Exclusive)

Andrew Lloyd Webber - Getty - H 2018
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Fresh from securing EGOT status with his Emmy Award for 'Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert,' the British musical-theater luminary is diving into work on a modern revisionist take on the classic fairy tale.

There's a beautiful symmetry, as Andrew Lloyd Webber points out, in the fact that he's following his recent EGOT milestone by embarking on a new musical treatment of the same classic fairy tale once adapted by Richard Rodgers, a fellow composer he calls his idol. Rodgers also happens to be the original EGOT, the first person in history to have secured wins in all four major American entertainment awards — Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tonys — back in 1962.

Along with lead actor John Legend and lyricist Tim Rice, both of whom served as fellow producers on NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert, Lloyd Webber joined the elite EGOT club at Sunday's Creative Arts Emmys when they took home the honors for Outstanding Live Variety Special.

Lloyd Webber has stayed on in Los Angeles this week to dig into work on his next major project, an all-new stage version of Cinderella with a contemporary twist.

"I'm working with young writers whose combined ages add up to less than mine," Lloyd Webber told The Hollywood Reporter. "It's delightful to have such young collaborators and I'm completely captivated by what they've done with the story. Now that I've said I'm going to do it, I have to get to my piano."

Those collaborators are L.A.-based British writers Tom MacRae and Emerald Fennell.

MacRae is a screenwriter, author and playwright who wrote the book and lyrics for the hit musical Everybody's Talking About Jamie, which tells the story of a 16-year-old gay schoolboy who generates shockwaves by insisting on going to his prom in drag. The show has been playing a sellout extended run on London's West End since Nov. 2017. Fennell is an actress and author who starred in the popular BBC series Call the Midwife and will take over from Phoebe Waller-Bridge as lead writer on the second season of the BBC America cult hit, Killing Eve.

"They have remade Cinderella into a completely modern, feisty girl," said Lloyd Webber of the creative team's non-traditional approach to the material. "Every piece of the story is followed, but it will be turned around so it's not at all what you expect it to be. It just turns the whole thing around on itself."

Lloyd Webber says the writing process is moving swiftly as the three collaborators work together to storyboard the musical and figure out where songs will go. The composer will be fitting in work on the project around the start of shooting on the film version of his blockbuster musical Cats in November, but nonetheless expects to have a Cinderella score completed by the end of the year. 

Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella was written for television as a vehicle for Julie Andrews and premiered on CBS in 1957 to a record-breaking viewership of more than 100 million people. Given that history and his recent success with Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC, Lloyd Webber doesn't entirely rule out a TV or streaming platform launch for the new project.

"But I'm a theater animal, so my feeling is that it will be for the stage," he said. "In any case that's where it will end up."

The composer said while no timeline has yet been set, he expects the show, which will be produced by his Really Useful Group, to follow the usual development trajectory for a musical of 18 months-two years minimum. He added that while it's at too early a stage to go into greater detail, the setting will be neither a traditional fairy tale kingdom nor a recognizable contemporary location.

"It takes it away from the world of magic and fairy godmothers, but it's not going to be anywhere nearly as modern as, say, Los Angeles in 2023," he explained. "I can't really say more about it at this point."

Lloyd Webber is the most commercially successful musical-theater composer in history, with titles including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita, The Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard, as well as Superstar and Cats. His 21 shows have been produced in 148 countries and have sold 300 million tickets globally and 40 million albums. Phantom alone has grossed over $6 billion worldwide and is the longest-running show in Broadway history by a wide margin, currently celebrating its 30th anniversary.

His most recent musical, School of Rock, will wrap its profitable run of just over three years on Broadway in January and will continue to play in London and on tour.