Although occasionally it comes across as a how-to-do-it-yourself type book, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s memoir is always entertaining to read.
If you are looking for a way to break into musicals, reading Unmasked is a good starting point as Andrew Lloyd Webber takes readers on a journey exploring some of his biggest musical hits – including all of the highs and lows throughout his extraordinary career.
But the man behind them still ultimately remains a mystery- despite this being billed as a memoir. His family and personal life are mentioned but not not focused on, meaning ultimately this book is predominantly focused on his passion for music, theatre and at times his fascination with architecture. This style and approach to the book can make him seem slightly emotionally disengaged with those who have supported him along the way.
However, on the flip side of this what the reader is given is an extraordinarily detailed account of how he created musicals such as ‘Evita’, ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ – taking us up to the opening night of The Phantom of the Opera. His knowledge and clear perfectionist nature shines through with every piece of music that he speaks about creating, offering the reader a deeper and richer knowledge of music and creating music for musical theatre.
It is a memoir filled with amusing stories and countless name dropping incidents that breaks up the focus on his career nicely to allow for a more personal touch, despite some stories feel as though they are stopped halfway through as though the author is still holding something back and can make the flow of the book feel slightly jerky in places.
Unmasked knows exactly what the reader mainly wants from it: to be informed about the creation of some of the best known musicals to be created over the decades and the stories behind them and it never strays from this objective. It is also amusing, honest and easy to read.
In terms of style, it has been sharply and wittily written in a way that only the author knows how, told with frankness that makes it authentic – particularly when things didn’t quite go according to plan.
Overall, Unmasked has plenty to offer those who wish to learn more about Andrew Lloyd Webber’s extraordinary and varied career, told with flair and humour. An interesting and engaging read.
By Emma Clarendon
Unmasked: A Memoir is available to buy now.