MUSIC BY ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER
BOOK AND LYRICS BY BEN ELTON
"If this is what we’re fighting for..."
The Beautiful Game tells the story of ordinary people in an extraordinary situation and follows the fortunes of a group of teenagers, all members of a local soccer team, and their friends.
A note from Ben Elton...
I first met Andrew in December 1998, he and Madeleine Lloyd Webber having invited my wife and me out to dinner. It was one of those great nights. I spent the evening getting as much rock and pop gossip out of Andrew as possible, you know the sort of thing ….which boy bands actually sing on their records? Is Cliff Richard as nice as he seems and how many times did Mrs Thatcher see Evita? I came away admiring his Lordship even more than I had done before, it’s difficult not to admire a man who wrote the last song that Elvis ever recorded, I mean how cool is that? Unless of course it was the song that killed him!
Andrew had wanted to meet me because he was thinking of putting a few new gags into Starlight and wanted to know if I was interested in writing them. Well, quite frankly, I had no ambitions to be the man who risked screwing up one of the most successful stage musicals in history. So I reminded Andrew of the old adage “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and declined the offer. I did, however, very nervously enquire whether he might be attracted to the idea of doing something new. Perhaps it was the wine, but, to my delight, Andrew was as enthusiastic as I was and the result, 18 months later, is The Beautiful Game. Set in Belfast between 1969 and 1972, it concerns the fortunes of a group of young men and women centred around a local youth football team. These young people have the misfortune to come of age at the beginning of a time of terrible trouble in Northern Ireland and the drama follows their efforts to live their lives against a backdrop of ever increasing sectarian division and violence. Some of the characters are drawn into the conflict, others stand aside wanting only to be allowed to get on with their lives in peace.
Although this is an Irish story, taking place in Belfast – a brave big-hearted city that I know well, having performed there many times – I hope that the themes and sentiments of The Beautiful Game are universal. All over the world communities are challenged by violence and hatred. This musical is dedicated to all those innocent and defenceless people who every day are forced to struggle simply to be left alone. Simply to be allowed to live and love in peace.
Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of some of the world’s best known musicals including Cats, Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera and Sunset Boulevard. His latest musical, a stage version of the movie “School of Rock”, opened on Broadway in December 2015.
As theatre producer he has presented not only his own shows but others including the Olivier award-winning La Bete and Daisy Pulls It Off.
As composer he has received many awards including seven Tonys, , seven Oliviers, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, two International Emmys, the Praemium Imperiale, the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre, a BASCA Fellowship, the Kennedy Center Honor and a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Requiem, his setting of the Latin Requiem mass which contains one of his best known compositions, Pie Jesu.
He owns six London theatres including the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the London Palladium.
He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1992 and created an honorary member of the House of Lords in 1997.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has become one of Britain’s leading charities supporting the arts and music.
Prolific author of numerous Number 1 hit novels (including Stark, Gridlock, Popcorn and Dead Famous) and award-winning television comedy series (including The Young Ones, The Thin Blue Line and Blackadder), Ben Elton is also one of the UK’s most successful and influential stand up comics. He has also achieved success in television and film as an actor, writer and director. He played Verges in Kenneth Branagh’s acclaimed movie Much Ado About Nothing and he wrote and directed the film Maybe Baby which starred Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson. His original ambitions were theatrical having studied Drama at Manchester University from where he now holds an Honory Doctorate. His plays Gasping, Silly Cow and Popcorn were all hugely successful in London and around the world. Popcorn won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy. He supplied the book for and also directed We Will Rock You, the colossal hit musical based on the songs of Queen which is now in its Eleventh year in the West End, also won Ben an Olivier Award and which has played to millions of people worldwide. With Andrew Lloyd Webber he wrote book and lyrics for The Beautiful Game which won the London Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical and which they have recently re-worked as The Boys in the Photograph, a production of which Ben has directed himself in Canada.