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Falling in Love with Four Boffo Broadway Blockbusters -- John Frey
Mt. Carmel Lutheran Church
San Luis Obispo, CA
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Falling in Love with Four Boffo Broadway Blockbusters -- John Frey
Thursdays, January 3, 10, 17, 24,  1:00pm - 4:00pm

Mt. Caramel Lutheran Church,  SLO

Four Sessions

$20 for LLCC members, $40 for non-members.

Register Soon for this course on Brown Paper Tickets

Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music for a dozen London shows. Two of them, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera were with his producer, Cameron Mackintosh. Through the triumph of four mega-musicals whose successes he engineered, Mackintosh became the most influential theater producer of the age. You will view four musical blockbusters, three of which were staged by Mackintosh, and an Oscar-winning movie thereby gaining an understanding of the musical composition and staging of this genre.

Cats is a revue for which Lloyd Webber chose poems from a collection of light verse,  Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats ,by T. S. Eliot, detailing the idiosyncrasies of cats, and set them to music in a pastiche of styles. Mackintosh assembled a production team that costumed the actors to look like cats and  converted the theater space into a junkyard 3 times life-size. It drew on the allure of daring simulations, and high-tech special effects. The climax of the story consisted of a mystical ascent to cat heaven on a huge rubber tire that rose like a spaceship twelve feet above the stage.

Spectacular coups de théâtre of this sort became mega-musical emblems - the Phantoms chandelier crashing down over the heads of the audience; the barricades in Les Mis; a helicopter landing and taking off again in Miss Saigon. But it was Cats that set the pace, changing the look and texture of a Broadway musical by the boldness of its physical design, costuming and use of technology.  You will be seeing the Staged Commemorative Version recorded in 1998.

The Phantom of the Opera tells  the story of an opera composer who wears a mask to hide a facial deformity; of his thwarted passion for the soprano, Christine; and of his reign of terror inside the Paris Opera House. The staging brought the Paris opera to life in all its glory; inside the house, with its elaborate chandelier and sweeping staircase; on the roof overlooking the City of Light; in the sub-basement where the Phantom rows Christine in a gondola to his hiding place in a lagoon lit by hundreds of candles. You will see the 25th Anniversary Concert at Royal Albert Hall recorded in 2012.

Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg staged the musical Les Misérables, based on Victor Hugos monumental French novel. The spectacle caught the attention of Mackintosh who converted it into the megamusical affectionally known as "Les Miz." It portrays a story of unconditional love, social injustice, and a search for spiritual redemption. The show traces the sufferings of Jean Valjean, an ex-convict; his relentless pursuit by the obsessive policeman, Javert; his devotion to the orphan girl, Cosette and her love for Marius, a student involved at the barricades in the ill-fated 1832 Paris uprising. You will see the 10th Anniversary Concert at Royal Albert Hall recorded in 1995.

Chicago is a musical set in Prohibition-era Chicago by John Kander and Fred Ebb. The story is a satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the "celebrity criminal." Chicago centers on Roxie Hart and Velma Kelly, two murderesses who find themselves in jail together awaiting trial in 1920s Chicago. Velma, a vaudevillian, and Roxie, a housewife, fight for the fame that will keep them from the gallows with the help of Billy Flynn, a duplicitous, smooth-talking lawyer who turns his clients into celebrities to gain public support for them.  You will see the 2002 movie version of this play.

John Frey taught chemistry and engaged in chemical research for 40 years at several universities and is now retired.  He serves on the Board of Directors of OperaSLO, the Lifelong Learners of the Central Coast, the SLO Master Chorale, and is a member of the Rotary Club.  He teaches courses on opera and musical theater for LLCC and OperaSLO. His other interests include swimming, music, family history, and travel. He is married and has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. He has had over 7 decades of singing experience with various choral groups and has performed in the chorus of OperaSLO.

If you would like to have the password for the member price for this course, go to www.lifelearnerscc.org for information on how you can become a member.


Mt. Carmel Lutheran Church (View)
1701 Fredericks St.
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
United States


Education > Classes

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!


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