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4.6 out of 5 stars
Andrew Lloyd Webber - The Royal Albert Hall Celebration
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294 of 298 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Just as the box (and the song) says, this is truly a night of a thousand stars. The video contains... Whistle Down The Wind ~ Tina Arena; Joseph Fanfare ~ the Orchestra; Any Dream Will Do & Close Every Door ~ Donny Osmond; Variations On A Theme By Paganini ~ Julian Lloyd Webber; Requiem For Evita ~ National Youth Choir; Oh What A Circus & High Flying Adored ~ Antonio Banderas; Don't Cry For Me Argentina ~ Elaine Paige; Light At The End Of The Tunnel ~ Ray Shell; Hosana (from Jesus Christ Superstar) ~ National Youth Choir; Hosana (from Requiem) ~ Dennis O'Neill; Pie Jesu ~ Sarah Brightman & Ben De'Ath; Jesus Christ Superstar ~ Marcus Lovett; Gethsemane ~ Michael Ball; Phantom Overture ~ the Orchestra; Phantom Of The Opera ~ Sarah Brightman & Antonio Banderas; All I Ask Of You ~ Sarah Brightman & Michael Ball; Music Of The Night ~ Sarah Brightman; Tire Tracks And Broken Hearts ~ Bonnie Tyler; No Matter What ~ Boyzone; Vaults Of Heaven ~ Michael Ball; Car Chase On Sunset Boulevard ~ the Orchestra; Once Upon A Time ~ Glenn Close & Marcus Lovett; With One Look & As If We Never Said Goodbye ~ Glenn Close; Love Changes Everything ~ Michael Ball & the Cast; Memory ~ Elaine Paige; The Heart Is Slow To Learn ~ Kiri Te Kanawa; Happy Birthday ~ the Cast; Whistle Down The Wind ~ Lottie Mayor & Andrew Lloyd Webber, and The Jellicle Ball ~ the Orchestra. You absolutely can't go wrong with this video. There is something for everyone, and you'll find yourself watching it repeatedly. The performances by Antonio Banderas, Sarah Brightman, Michael Ball, Glenn Close, Boyzone & Bonnie Tyler are all definitely highlights, but there isn't a disappointing performance in the entire 2 hour+ show.
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228 of 237 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
When in March 1998 Andrew Lloyd Webber turned 50, a full two-hour celebration gala concert was given in his honour at London's Royal Albert Hall. He certainly deserved it, since by that time he was rightly thought of as the most successful musical composer of all times. As it is wide known, he wrote numerous hit shows, including the two longest running musicals in the history of the West End and Broadway, i.e. "Cats" and "The Phantom of the Opera". So the numerous artists who performed his shows and singles were called together and they delivered this stunning concert accompanied by a wonderful symphonic orchestra. Every show up to that date, except "By Jeeves", "The Beautiful Game" and his latest, "The woman in white", was covered, the former from 2000 and the latter premiered in September 2004. I'll give you my brief impressions of the songs performed here.

1. "Whistle down the wind" performed by Tina Arena: This is the single version released before the show was put to stage. It's a beautiful pop song with the nice guitar and drums use. Tina has the right voice, but her stage presence here is too aggressive.

2. "Any dream will do" and "Close every door" from "The Joseph and his amazing Technicolor dreamcoat" performed by Donny Osmond: These two songs from Webber's first musical Osmond sings with a group of young kids as the backs vocals that blends perfectly with his strong voice.

3. "Variations" is the piece for the cello and the orchestra that Webber based on the work of the Italian violin virtuoso Paganini and wrote for his cellist brother Julian Lloyd Webber, who plays the cello here. He gives a spotless rendition of the two numbers, with professional dancers dancing in front of him.

4. "Evita" follows. The choir of youngsters appropriately dressed performs "The requiem for Evita". Then comes Antonio Banderas dressed as Che and sings his two numbers: "Oh, what a circus" and "High flying, adored" very well, as he did in the movie. "Don't cry for me Argentina", one of the best songs Webber has ever written, is nicely sung here by Elaine Paige, who had the honour to be the first who in 1978 brought Evita to life in the West End. She wears a beautiful white gown and the fitting jewellery, similar to the one she had on stage when she was in the show.

5. "Starlight Express", the Webber's show about trains, is represented here by one ensemble song called "Light at the end of the tunnel". It is performed by one of the Original Cast members from 1984, Ray Shell, who is, with the rest of the singers here, on roller-skates, as the actors in the show are. It's a flashy piece, better to watch than to listen.

6. "Jesus Christ Superstar", Webber's first big success, is next. We have a short reference to the number "Hosanna" and the two solos. Michael Ball, the star of "Les Mis" and Webber's "Aspects of love", sings "Gethsemane" in the right tone and with the needed passion; a touch of sadness is present here. Marcus Lovett, who starred in "Whistle down the wind" that year, with the help of the soul girls, gives a rocky rendition of "Superstar"; very neat. Some will probably enjoy his costume: a tight jeans and shirtless T-shirt, showing his muscles. :-)

7. "Requiem", for which Webber won a special award, comes next in line. He wrote it in 1985 to commemorate the death of his father. The opera singer Dennis O'Neill sings "Hosanna" with his perfect tenor. Then, for the first time that evening, appears Sarah Brightman, who was Webber's second wife. She looks beautiful and reminds me here of a porcelain doll. She sings the most famous song from "Requiem", called "Pie Jesu", together with Ben De'atah, a small choir boy. It is the most solemn rendition of the evening.

8. "The Phantom of the Opera", the most produced of all Webber's shows, starts next, with a strong Overture. Sarah Brightman comes out, with a beautiful smile on her face. She sings in all of the three numbers here, "The Phantom of the Opera" being the first. My main complaint here is that Antonio Banderas joins her as the Phantom, which is very inappropriate. He is good as Che in "Evita", but the Phantom needs a totally different voice. Where was Michael Crawford that evening? Antonio's voice is trembling in this number and you can tell he's really struggling. Michael Ball joins Sarah in a beautiful rendition of the love ballad "All I ask of you" and they share a nice kiss in the end, just like in the show. Sarah wraps up the Phantom part with "The music of the night", originally sung by the Phantom, but here, they rightly didn't want to risk it with Banderas.

9. Two pop singles from "Whistle down the wind" come after that. Bonnie Tyler sings a stunning big number, "Tyre tracks and broken hearts", together with the very well choreographed dancers and the black girls as the back vocals. This whole number looks and sounds great. "No matter what" was an instant hit and is given here by Boyzone, then still existing as a boy band. Very well sung. But they saved the best for last of this part: Michael Ball comes out then and gives an amazing rendition of "The vaults of heaven", backed by the soul choir. This remains one of my favourites here; the sound of this is beyond description, as the applause proves it.

10. "Sunset Boulevard" part is next. "Sunset" remains for me one of Webber's best scores; lush and beautiful. I listen to the original cast recording with Patti LuPone all the time. However, here the songs are performed by Glenn Close. A big mistake. If you've ever listened the American premiere recording with her, you'll know what I am talking about. Yes, her stage presence is strong, as the applause of the audience shows, but her vocal abilities are too limited, and her aggressive approach to the role lacks any subtlety. I can only imagine how it would sound if Patti LuPone was there, or anybody else who sang it properly, like Betty Buckley or Petula Clark. This is one of the main reasons I'm giving this concert 4 stars. In this way, the three songs here, "Once upon a time", "With one look" and "As if we never said goodbye" only give a hint of what they may look like with the right singer. The funny thing is; this was the first time I heard these songs, and thought Glenn Close is OK, until I heard Patti LuPone. So do yourself a favour and get the London cast recording of "Sunset Blvd" to hear it how it should sound.

11. "Aspect of love" is represented by its hit song, "Love changes everything", Michael Ball's number one hit and standard. All the artists come out to the stage and join him in this song; very lovely.

12. Elaine Paige then makes her second appearance to sing "Memory", probably the most famous song of Webber, dressed in a nice feline gown. Her voice is lovely and gentle, though not as strong as on "Cats" DVD, from which it was put to her latest two-disc compilation, "Centre stage: The very best of Elaine Paige", issued in May 2004.

The master himself, Andrew Lloyd Webber, comes to the stage after that, to give a brief thanking speech. He also introduces the next artist, dame Kiri Te Kanawa.

13. Dame Kiri performs a song called "A heart is slow to learn", which belongs among the finest Lloyd Webber's ballads. It was initially intended to use it in a sequel of The Phantom of the opera", but in the year 2000, Webber used this melody with the changed lyrics for his musical "The beautiful game". Dame Kiri's soprano fits the melody perfectly.

14. Another rendition of "Whistle down the wind" follows, this time Webber is playing the piano and the young Lottie Mayor, who played the lead in the show that year, is singing. Her rendition is very opposite to Tina Arena's from the beginning: I like the touch of gentleness that Lottie brings to this song.

15. During the end credits, the orchestra plays "The jellicle ball" from "Cats".

I hope I gave you an interesting description of the whole show. Anyone who, like me, loves Andrew Lloyd Webber's music and musicals is in for a sheer delight. My only regret is that Michael Crawford and good singer for Sunset Blvd part weren't there. Other than that, this concert is a must have for all the Webber fans and those who enjoy quality musical theatre.
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56 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
Andrew Lloyd Webber has written some of the most beautiful music of the last 30 years. This amazing video captures the highlights of his brilliant career and brings them to a new level. The variety of music and performers worked wonderfully. Sarah Brightman, Antonio Banderas, Glenn Close, Donny Osmond, Elaine Page and all the artists are great, but Michael Ball took the cake! WOW! His performance of "Gethsemane" will leave you breathless. "Vaults of Heaven" (on which Michael was joined by The London Community Gospel Choir) will leave you swaying and clapping! Michael's gorgeous voice complemented Sarah B.'s on their duet "All I Ask Of You." He is THE HIGHLIGHT of this video. Other noteworthy performances include Donny Osmond's "Joseph..." segment, "Memory" sung by the one and only Elaine Page and Glenn Close's "With One Look" is amazing. And all things considered, I must give Antonio Banderas some credit. Sure, he doesn't have the best voice, but his "Phamton" (hehe) is likable. I had never heard of Tina Arena, but her performance of "Whistle Down The Wind" is wonderful. This is a great video, filled with the best ALW has to offer. He does write beautiful music, but he sure knows how to pick the right singers to show it off! This is worth every penny and even more. You will be pushing the "Rewind" button more than once!
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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2002
Format: DVD
The opening song WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND is sung by Tina Arena. The music and the way Tina performs the song is very powerful. She has a great voice but she sings it too aggressively, I better like the way Lottie Mayor sings it, at the end of the concert.
Donny Osmond sings ANY DREAM WILL DO and CLOSE EVERY DOOR together with a children choir. Donny has a great charisma and voice. It sounds fantastic with the children. Julian Lloyd Webber plays cello - the music from VARIATIONS (a symphonic concert from 1977).
Antonio Banderas: HIGH FLYING ADORED. Elaine Paige: DON'T CRY FOR ME ARGENTINA. She sings it as beautiful as 20 years ago, when she had the leading role as Evita.
Dennis O'Neill sings in Latin the song HOSANNA from Requiem. There is a girl in the choir, she looks like Charlotte Church? Sarah Brightman appears like a magic woman, and the dancers fall to the floor. Sarah sings in Latin and the young boy Ben De'ath comes to the stage. They sing PIE JESU together - a very beautiful and moving church mess song. Sarah's voice is incredible beautiful.
Michael Ball: I ONLY WANT TO SAY (GESTHEMANE) from Jesus Christ Superstar. A very vigorous song.
At THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, when Sarah Brightman enters the stage I get chills because of her beauty and presence. She is the most wonderful person, with a warm-heartedness charisma. She definitely has the best and most beautiful voice in the world. She and Antonio Banderas sing THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA together. It's 10 years ago, when Sarah played Christine in the Phantom.
Michael Ball and Sarah sing the beautiful duet ALL I ASK OF YOU. They suit each other well. Michael Ball has a great charisma. THE MUSIC OF THE NIGHT, Sarah sings it as beautiful as ever.
Boyzone: NO MATTER WHAT - the best sound on this DVD.
Michael Ball: VAULTS OF HEAVEN together with a gospel choir - it sounds fantastic.
Glenn Close plays Norma Desmond from Sunset Boulevard and sings WITH ONE LOOK.
Michael Ball sings the great song LOVE CHANGES EVERYTHING and all the artists from the concert appear, singing together. Elaine Paige sings MEMORY from Cats.
Kiri Te Kanawa sings the very beautiful song THE HEART IS SLOW TO LEARN. Kiri has a beautiful soprano voice. It could be great to hear Kiri and Sarah together in a duet. All the artists sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Andrew. At the final song, Andrew plays the piano while Lottie Mayor sings the beautiful song WHISTLE DOWN THE WIND.
Andrew Lloyd Webber must be the greatest composer of all time.
This DVD is fantastic, whether your are a fan of Andrew, Sarah Brightman, Michael Ball, Elaine Paige or you just love great musical music. The picture and the sound are excellent on this DVD.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I originally purchased this video to watch a specific performer. However, I was shocked by the amazing talent this video holds. The only disappointing part was the selection from "Starlight Express." Perhaps that just needs to grow on me, though. I "discovered" the fabulously talented Michael Ball, and have since watched "Gethsemane" countless times. Michael Ball delivered the most spectacular performance I have ever seen during this moving song. Incredible! I only wish that all of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's videos could be so wonderful. The "Jesus Christ Superstar" segment of the show was splendid and performed very well by various artists. Also, Donny Osmond's voice is so pure and youthful and has wonderful tone quality. He dazzles the audience while singing happily to the children's choir and later giving 120% in the emotional "Close Every Door." Donny Osmond is such a fantastic performer that *he* never steps out on stage. Instead, from the moment he comes out from the darkness, the audience sees *Joseph*, not Donny. He gives a truly wonderful performance. If you purchase this video, you will be purchasing happiness. I promise that you will watch it over and over again, and hopefully enjoy it as much as I did.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
First of all, this is NOT the exact same thing you saw on PBS. It's better. There are more songs (such as another version of Whistle Down The Wind, Close Every Door, and Sarah Brightman singing Music of the Night, as well as other songs from Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, and one from Starlight Express, just to name a few) If you love what you saw on PBS and want to see the twenty+ minutes you missed, you should buy this video. It is worth it. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I have.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This is the best video I've ever bought. Never have I watched the same video repeatedly - so much so that I bought an extra copy in case the first one wears out. I am a big fan of musicals, and this performance did not let me down (unlike the Cameron MacKintosh tribute video). The way this video flowed was really nice - an excellent production! Tina Arena's opening song - WOW! Donny Osmond did a wonderful job. Antonio Banderas and Elaine Page with the Evita songs - excellent! Antonio is perfect for the role of Che - the video of 'Evita' was also incredible - who knew Madonna could act that well? I was disappointed with the Starlight Express piece - full costume would have been perfect and I thought there were better songs they could have used (maybe the medley would have been a good choice). The Requiem wasn't bad. Nice cello playing by Julian also - thought he would have dressed up for his brother's birthday party :). Michael Ball was PERFECT! All his songs were incredible. Wow, what a rendition of Vaults of Heaven. Incredible Gethsamane! The Phantom pieces were okay - Michael Crawford really should have been there. Bonnie Tyler's rendition of Tire Tracks and Broken Hearts was great! All of the songs from Whistle on Down the Wind were incredible on this video - soooo much better than the original soundtrack! Boyzone did a better version of No Matter What here than on their own album. Glen Close was spectacular on Sunset Blvd's songs! The dancers and the orchestra were also fabulous! Buy this! If you have liked any of Webber's work, you must have this video. When will it ever get on DVD? Or a CD soundtrack?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
What a great tribute to the brillance of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Great 2 hours of some of the best music in the world, performed by the best in the world. Some people will be surprised at the talent of Antonio Banderas, he had never sung before a crowd of 5,000 people, his future protrayal of "Phantom of the Opera" was secured by this live tryout for the role, at the invitation of Andrew Lloyd Webber himself. This video is just wonderful and hopefully will be available some day on the DVD format.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2003
Format: DVD
I had seen bits and pieces of this on PBS several years ago, and purchased the video recently on the advice of a friend. I've long enjoyed Andrew Lloyd Webber's music, and enjoyed just about every performance in this show. Some of the highlights for me were:
Michael Ball -- Unknown to me before seeing him in the West End in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, (somehow I missed his parts of the show when I saw it on PBS), he was one of the main reasons I purchased this video. The four songs he sang here were absolutely marvelous; Gethsemane -- very powerful and full of emotion. Vaults of Heaven-- wonderful as was his duet with Sarah Brightman, All I ask of You. And Love Changes Everything -- quite simply, magnificant, made even more so with the full cast joining in.
Glenn Close was magnificent singing her songs from Sunset Boulevard.
Antonio Banderas surprised me -- he was very good with the songs from Evita, but not so good with the title song from Phantom of the Opera -- there were minor problems with his phrasing, and, in certain parts of the song, he sounded as though he were singing out of his range.
Donny Osmond -- loved his renditions of Any Dream will Do and Close Every Door.
Sarah Brightman -- for the most part her performances were lovely. However, I was disappointed with her performance of Pie Jesu. Rounding her mouth as she did through most of the song rendered the words almost unintelligible, and spoiled the beauty of the song for me. I have seen her do this song without rounding her mouth and the words were much clearer and the sound just as good. Ben De'ath, the boy soprano who sang with her on this performance was much clearer in his enunciation.
All in all the concert was spectacular. If you enjoy ALW's music, I recommend this.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Except for "CATS" (great in DVD) I had not been exposed to Andrew Lloyd Webber's fantastic productions and the outstanding artists singing his enchanting songs. Folks, this production is a real treat! In my opinion, bigger-than-life Michael Ball, gracefully poised and beautiful Sarah Brightman, and the one-and-only Elaine Paige (whose voice can bring the roof down with applause) are stupendous in this production celebrating Webber's birthday; in fact, this concert was a surprise for him, a "Celebration", put together by the various artists. It's a professional masterpiece. This concert has something for everyone, believe me. It's amazing to see the artists up close and listen to their talented voices, each of whom has starred in at least one of Webber's productions. My family and I must get our daily dose of this concert, even if it's just listening to a favorite song or two. Theater and opera were only recently another dimension to us; we knew it existed, but so what? Now we know what! This tape is outstanding for the opera/theater novice as well as for seasoned afficiandos. Put the tape in the machine, crank up the volume, and bask in this delightful, awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping production. The "Phantom of the Opera" duet between Sarah Brightman and Antonio Banderas, with the Phantom's haunting organ music accompanied by the full orchestra, is well worth the price of this tape. So is Michael Ball's thunderous rendition of "Gesthemane" from "Jesus Christ Superstar". So also is Elaine Paige's emotional "Memory", her signature song from "CATS". This is a feel-good-about-yourself purchase. You cannot go wrong with this tape. It will become one of your favorite shows because it represents "Whistle Down the Wind", "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat", "Evita", "Starlight Express", "Jesus Christ Superstar", "CATS", "The Phantom of the Opera", "Sunset Boulevard", "Aspects of Love", and something new with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa -- all in one glorious production. It rates more than 5 stars because it's in a league by itself!
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