An Interview with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Composer
During the Music Recording in London, Prior to Filming
Q: Can you tell us how you were attracted to this South American lady from the 1950s?
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER: Well, it was Tim Rice's idea. He was very intrigued by the fact that she was mentioned in the context of a whole load of fifties figures who were very successful, including people like James Dean, and I think he was curious to find out why she became this kind of cult figure, this huge figure in Argentina. And I think he became very attracted to the story.
Q: Did you fall in love with the woman or were you terrifically attracted to the personality of the woman?
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER: The biggest problem for me as the composer of it is that of course I could have let the whole thing go as a high romance. I could make everybody cry their eyes out at the end of all this, but that was not the point of the piece. In a way, the piece had to keep this slightly Brechtian approach to the whole thing, where you have the Ché character able to commentate on the quite grisly things that she did. And to turn her into some sort of great romantic figure would have been really quite easy. But no, I never fell in love with the woman -- very much the reverse.
Q: When you were writing "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina," which probably is one of the most famous anthems in musical theater, did it come to you and you said, "God, that's it, that's the big thing in the show," or not?
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER: When Tim talked to me about the idea of doing the piece, I thought that if I could crack the moment where she did some piece which indeed did turn into an anthem, then I would have done it. This is a very interesting dramatic thing, because here you have a song that represents Eva Perón at her very height and at her most manipulative -- when she's speaking on the Casa Rosada balcony -- and yet the song eventually turns on her. When she does the final broadcast, it becomes something which is really pathetic. And I thought, if I could crack that, then I've got a dramatic line through the piece from which most other things would follow. And so, in fact, "Don't Cry for Me" was the first thing I wrote. And if that hadn't happened, I don't think we would have gone on to do Evita.
Q: Did you know then that this was going to be the great song of the musical -- which I think everybody would say it is, isn't it?
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER: It's very hard, because I just know that we had to have one central thing like that. It was the gangplank of the whole thing. But, in fact, the song that would carry the show or would carry the person playing Eva Perón in the theater was "Rainbow High." If the artist cracked that, then the show was theirs.
Q: What's Alan Parker like to work with?
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER: He's a great joy to work with, and of course I think if anybody knows about musicals these days, he's the one person who has done musical films, or used music an awful lot. I don't think he's ever gone as far as he has with this one, but he is the one person whom you feel comfortable with.
Q: Coming back to it after twenty years, how does it seem to you now? I mean, you wrote it when you were a young man. How does it seem to you coming back now?
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER: Well, as with everything, there are bits of it that I think work very well. I did the orchestrations for this solely on my own, whereas now I can't really do that, because of time and everything. And I realize that there are some wonderful things in it, which is great for us to be able to explore again. This recording, of course, is a lot better than the original, because things have come along [technologically]. And we've also got a bit more time and money than we had back then. So there's a lot that is great.
Q: It always seemed to be such a cinematic subject. Is it just the right time for it now?
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER: Well, I think everything's come together at a time when the money was available and the artists were available, after a long haul to get it there. And I think we're very lucky with the cast we've got. So it's very interesting and very exciting.