Andrew Lloyd Webber has launched a virtual competition that could lead to one fan singing on Broadway or the West End when musicals resume playing.
The composer has invited singers to make up their own little vocal showcase at the end of the song “Think of Me” sung by the character Christine Daaé from “The Phantom of the Opera.” There's a little 13-second pocket — called a cadenza — where freestyle vocal gymnastics are encouraged.
The winning contestant will be introduced onstage by Lloyd Webber at either the home of “The Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway or London — whichever opens first — and sing after the performance.
“I just thought, ’Wouldn’t it be fun to find a cadenza that we could do when finally we reopen in 2047,'” he joked during an interview with The Associated Press. “Everybody is needing something to lift the spirits at the moment.”
Lloyd Webber has tapped talk show host Graham Norton and singer Sierra Boggess, who played Christine in a number of productions of “The Phantom of the Opera," to help him judge the entries, which have come in over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. He said he's been impressed by all of them.
“Some of them are very funny. Some of them are very good. And one or two of the girls who sent in things, I think we ought to actually see, because I think they could just possibly be Christines," he said. "It’s delightful.”
The Cadenza Challenge competition — with no end date yet on submissions — is just one way that Lloyd Webber has been interacting with fans and encouraging donations to those battling COVID-19. He's been holding virtual listening parties, revealing details of his thoughts on some of his shows.
He's also been streaming free recordings of his shows every Friday on YouTube as part of his The Shows Must Go On series. The streams encourage viewer donations to support The Actors Fund and other international organizations.
The one Friday is a 2012 production of “Love Never Dies” starring Ben Lewis and Anna O’Byrne. Last Friday's screening of “The Phantom of the Opera” was watched by 12.6 million people.
“I think it’s the least one could do. Musical theater has been incredibly good to me. And I always feel that one has to give something back," Lloyd Webber said.
Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits