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Unmasked: A Memoir

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  995 ratings  ·  194 reviews
"You have the luck of Croesus on stilts (as my Auntie Vi would have said) if you’ve had the sort of career, ups and downs, warts and all that I have in that wondrous little corner of show business called musical theatre."

One of the most successful and distinguished artists of our time, Andrew Lloyd Webber has reigned over the musical theatre world for nearly five decades.
ebook, 528 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Harper
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Koren There is some mild adult content. For instance, he is pretty straight-forward about talking about his adultery. However, at almost 500 pages I dont an…moreThere is some mild adult content. For instance, he is pretty straight-forward about talking about his adultery. However, at almost 500 pages I dont and a lot of rambling, I dont think it would hold a pre-teen's interest. (less)

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Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who’s a “theater buff” this is a must read!!! Enjoyed it very much, can’t wait for the next book, continuation of book 1. Audio book is highly recommended for this one.
John Amory
Exceedingly verbose and dull. This book is over 500 pages long, yet it still only covers less than 40 years of Lloyd Webber's life and ends with the London opening of Phantom of the Opera. On the one hand, this memoir does track the creation of his biggest hits at the height of his career, so many readers will be satisfied. But we don't get to see SO MUCH of his life, including the more interesting parts. Throughout this book, Lloyd Webber is on top. He skirts over what few failures there were b ...more
Feb 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the autobiography of Andrew Lloyd Webber. This wasn't quite 4 stars because it was entirely too long with all of the little details that could have been left out. I rounded up though because I liked his humor and I am amazed at his track record in the music field. It was a little bit luck, a little bit love of music, and a little bit of being where he needed to be when he needed to be there. I loved how things seemed to fall into place for him, but ultimately, he made it happen. I was en ...more
Daisy Johnson
Apr 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, non-fiction
It's an interesting book this, furiously wordy and weighty and rather deliciously careless in tone. One thing is clear, Andrew Lloyd Webber has learnt to care very little about what other people think and his book is full of a sort of self-deprecating, somewhat fey humour that is undoubtedly appealing. He comes across well, I think, despite a few deliberately blithe moments which skim over the top of complex personal situations and creative tensions.

It could, however, do with some fierce editing
This guy has written some of my most favorite musicals. I could watch Phantom and Joseph over and over. Living in a rural area we mostly get our musicals with summer civic theater. Time and again while reading this book I wondered if he talked the way he wrote and by that I mean going on and on and on. At 500 pages, he only makes it through around 1985 and states there is a possibility there could be a Book 2. I haven't seen all of his work so the long stories about his work I haven't seen mostl ...more
mmm I mean there are some good anecdotes in here, I think ALW could have written like a couple of good BuzzFeed posts. It's very rambly though and I don't think ALW has a good sense of what a dirtbag he's making himself come across as, esp w/r/t his child bride. And also his pervasive sense of himself as an underdog, rather than of the most commercially successful composers of all time? Who had success from a very young age?

more on the podcat, but in short, only recommended for diehar
Jeanette (Again)
There were parts of this that were interesting, but I was annoyed when I got to the end and discovered it's basically Part One of his autobiography. To my knowledge, he hasn't yet gotten around to writing the rest of his story. ...more
This book was due back to the library before I had time to finish it. No great loss... it was only mildly interesting. There was a lot of detailed background information that I really didn't care about.

Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this book

Learned a lot about how every thing was done
for the creating of 3 of my favorite shows by Andrew Lloyd Webber
Jesus Christ Superstar ,Cats and Phantom of the Opera
still love the Music from all three
James Scheid
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Written in a quirky, British self deprecating manner, Lloyd Webber tells of the highs and lows of his career. Despite his success he always has opening night jitters before a new show hit the stage. He was surprised that CATS became the phenomenon it did. The memoir at times jumps around from show to show but that is because he was working on multiple projects at the same time. He refers to some famous people from the British stage I was not familiar with, but it is a thrill to witness the creat ...more
Tom Grover
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, memior, music
The title of the book is most certainly meant to be a play on Webber's most famous work, the Phantom of the Opera. However, he seems reluctant to actually "unmask" himself as he tells his story. A good memoir allows the reader to experience the life and times of the author as the author experienced it. Yet, Webber seemed unable or unwilling to open up. The memoir is mostly a travelogue account of the creative process and history behind his most famous works. That is interesting, but it really is ...more
Simon Howard
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this up because the reviews I read suggested that it was better than one might expect it to be - and that's exactly how I found it. This is the first volume of Andrew Lloyd Webber's memoirs, which covers the early part of his career - up to the opening night of Phantom of the Opera.

It would be interesting in any case to have some insight into the creative process of a man who has had musical successes writing everything from Elvis Presley songs to stage musicals to a requiem mass. But
Breanne T
May 30, 2018 rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book, I really did. But oh man, it is so dull. Also - did he even realize how he comes off in these pages? Chauvinistic male pig, really. I ended up skimming most of it, just looking for interesting snippets. The very end got better as he was talking about Phantom of the Opera, but it was too little too late for this one.
Laurie Ather
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed reading about the history and backstory of some of my favorite musicals.
Dec 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Grab your tea and get comfy - you’re going to the wonderful little world of Andrew Lloyd Webber. I happened to stumble upon this novel in the bargain section of Books-A-Million. I had always been a fan of Webber’s music, so I was thrilled to discover that he had written a memoir. “Unmasked”, Webber’s novel, is a fantastic piece that transports you to his world and shows you life through his eyes. Webber takes you from the moment he was born to the days of his smash-hit musicals, with remarkable ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: media, audiobook, music
There are a lot of interesting tidbits that I learned from reading Lloyd Webber’s book. You understand somewhat the chronology of the music and the productions he has been involved in. I say “somewhat” because the author seems to have always been working on multiple projects at the same time, and each project had its own life, sometimes changing along the way (think “Evita”, with multiple production timelines around the world, movie considerations, prototype album, and changes in music as time g ...more
Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know where to start. I adored it. The only thing I have an issue with is that it ended with Phantom... especially after Sir Lloyd Webber alluded to some interesting things happening around the making and premiering of Sunset Boulevard... I need the inside scoop!!!

I loved the tone this memoir was written in. I mean, it was so British... such a playful style of British humour and choice of words... which I just looooooooove. But at the same time, he is just so well read and well-spoken!
Brian Willis
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Most autobiographies are entirely self serving and relatively dull. Who really wants to air any legitimate dirty laundry or mull over failures? While detractors of ALW will have lots to pick over here, it is inimitably his own voice (certainly not ghost written) and it is at times surprisingly revealing. He does gloss a little over personal failings although admitting them, and at certain times crossing lines into "men talk" about those times, but it is definitely mind opening if you are looking ...more
Kate Henderson
Listened to this on audible and surprised to see that Andrew Lloyd Webber only narrates the opening and closing chapters- so less than 10 mins in total. Disappointing!

I’m a huge theatre fan, and therefore a big fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber. I was brought up with his shows. I found the majority of this book really interesting and a great backstage insight into the making of a show. But there was also quite a lot of ‘waffling’ going on too. Lots of bits that I found completely irrelevant. Bu luckily
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this autobiography of Andrew Lloyd Webber that ended with the opening of Phantom of the Opera. I actually listened to this book while on a 12 hour road trip to St. Louis and I found myself turning off the book for a few minutes to warble some of the most famous songs from the shows he was describing. My specialty, apparently, is the soundtrack from Cats. I'm eagerly looking forward to the next installment. ...more
Nov 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This got off to a slow start, with too many facts and not enough story, but it soon turned around. It was fascinating to read how the musicals came together and how many revisions they went through. What surprised me the most was that the music came first, and then a lyricist put words to it. I’d always assumed the opposite. This was a good read! Thanks to my thoughtful daughter for this gift. ❤️
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very interesting if you’re a musical nerd. I can’t say I love ALW as a person after reading all his unexamined privilege (he says his family had no money growing up, but he lived in South Kensington and spent holidays in the French Riviera...) or his treatment of the women in his life. But I did like his willingness to engage in some dishy gossip.
Jul 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an entertaining and gossipy read, but certainly from a very specific point of view. I'm mostly feeling like I should read everyone else's memoir to get a Rashoman-like version of the development of Cats (which is the most interesting section, I think.) ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
gdi Andy

Was inclined to dock it a star because it doesn’t go much into phantom and ends rather abruptly, but he is rather good at this and I can’t help but feel like a lot of the boo hoo is because he is who he is
Mar 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting memoir, but as he says numerous times...due to his wordiness, he could not include everything he wished to include. Lots of background information regarding his various productions, personal stories and more.
Jun 19, 2018 marked it as did-not-finish
While I was interested in reading this, I wasn't interested enough to make it through the 700 pages. ...more
Simon Robs
Jan 10, 2019 rated it liked it
A fun read, sensational careers, account at the rise of big theatrical/musical scale production back 'n forth across the pond. ALW takes a village. He did his bit, others his bidding. "Superstar." ...more
Mike Horowitz
Nov 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2018
A 500+ page memoir where he devotes more effort to a joke about the size of his dick than to deal with the devastation he brought on his wife and first marriage after cheating on her.
May 24, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
While the sections on Cats was certainly rough, and Joseph wasn't nearly long enough, the last section on Phantom made it all worth it. I love learning the back story behind productions (commentaries are my best friend) so this was a fun installment. Who knew Joseph started as a mini-high school project, or that they had at one point shorted Christine's name to Christin (thank goodness that didn't stick [and that they didn't call "The Phantom of the Opera", "Erik: The Musical!" LOL]). It was als ...more
Sep 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Needed more Phantom and less Auntie Vi.
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The Worst Bestsel...: Episode 98 - Unmasked 1 14 May 23, 2018 04:44PM  

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