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Published: 10/21/2005

Broadway blockbusters

BY ANN WEBER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Performers in  The Best of Broadway Featuring the Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber  are,
clockwise from top left, Raymond Saar, Scott Harlan, Valerie Perri, and Diane Ketchie. Performers in The Best of Broadway Featuring the Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber are, clockwise from top left, Raymond Saar, Scott Harlan, Valerie Perri, and Diane Ketchie.
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You don't have to be a theatergoer to recognize the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber - "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar, for example, or "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera.

Webber's blockbusters "have not only conquered the stage but crossed over to symphony orchestras," said producer/entertainer Raymond Saar in an interview from Los Angeles. "They are played on the radio, in supermarkets - they are totally recognizable to everybody."

That familiar, beloved music forms the core of "The Best of Broadway Featuring the Songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber," scheduled at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Valentine Theatre. Saar, whose long performance resume includes starring as Raoul in Phantom in San Francisco, is one of four veteran performers who will present songs from Evita, Cats, Sunset Boulevard, By Jeeves, Aspects of Love, Song and Dance, and Starlight Express in addition to Jesus Christ Superstar and Phantom of the Opera.

"He has such an incredible catalog of music," Saar said of Webber, who has won six Tony Awards, four Drama Desk Awards, three Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar. At one time he had five shows running in London and three on Broadway simultaneously.

Joining Saar on stage Sunday will be his wife, Diane Ketchie, who made her Broadway debut in Phantom and also starred in the San Francisco production as the diva Carlotta; Valerie Perri, who headed the first national touring production of Evita in the title role; and Scott Harlan, who has appeared in national and regional theater productions as well as on television and in films. Live music will accompany the performers.

"The neat thing we also bring to the table is because we starred in the shows, we know the fabric and the context in which the songs are sung" in the original productions, Saar pointed out. With the performers able to infuse the songs with the story and character they were written for, listeners will get a theatrical experience, he explained, not just beautiful music.

Audiences would be disappointed if Webber's most popular songs weren't included, Saar said, "because they're so emotionally charged and emotionally exciting and accessible pieces of music."

But expect some surprises: "I also wanted to make sure to include some that people don't know," he said, such as "Half a Moment" from By Jeeves.

He attributes the popularity and staying power of Webber's music to his ability "to really touch our hearts in many different ways while talking about love."

"Love is the most powerful force in our universe," Saar declares.

"The Best of Broadway Featuring the songs of Andrew Lloyd Webber" is scheduled at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Valentine Theatre, 400 North Superior St. Tickets, $38, $45, and $55, are available by calling the box office at 419-242-2787 or www.valentinetheatre.com.

Contact Ann Weber at: aweber@theblade.com

or 419-724-6126.



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