(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/21.)

He took the shonky British musical and made it a global phenomenon. As the composer celebrates his birthday with a new memoir, our theatre critic looks back at the hits – and flops

I first became aware of the global reach of Andrew Lloyd Webber, who hits 70 this week, one afternoon in Tbilisi in 1988. I was there with a party of journalists accompanying a National Theatre tour of Shakespeare’s late plays. We were invited to the Georgian ministry of culture, then still nominally communist, and politely asked our hosts what other piece of high art they might like imported from Britain.

“Veber, Veber,” the Soviet suits all cried.

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Photo: New York Post

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