andrew lloyd webber sends a text message (OR the adventures of webbsy and steve)

Readers of the Shatner Chatner who have been with me from the beginning may remember my recent tortured attempts, as an adult, to "get" Sondheim. I do believe I am making genuine progress! This is not part of that progress.

My friend Ben once worked on the set of the revival of the musical Cats. He built, among other things, a giant washing machine for the humans dressed as cats to crawl in and out of. We talk about this part of his career a lot, as you might imagine, and today he texted me the following:

BEN: I’m pretty sure the phone call where Andrew Lloyd Webber sold a producer on “Cats” ended with “Can you pick me up? I don’t know where I am.”

Which, of course, immediately devolved into a series of imagined conversations between Andrew Lloyd Webber, a variety of producers, Stephen Sondheim, and assorted others. (Here lies Mallory. She died doing what she loved: flogging to fucking death that imagined text messaging thing. ((Poor Andrew. I don't mean to make fun of his work, which everyone has done, so much as I'm fascinated by the idea of what a person does with their life after achieving that level of total cultural and financial dominance. It must be sort of like opening the Ark of the Covenant.)

I like it, Andrew
it’s got promise
how does it end?

A FUCKING UFO YOU CUNT
UFO FOR FUCKING CATS

huh, wow, okay

A MEOW-FO

that might be tricky to stage
but we can definitely try –

I WROTE ABOUT A FUCKING GHOST...THE FUCK YOU DO...CHANDELIER
A GHOST CHANDELIER
THAT’S MY SHIT YOU SHITDICK
THE PLAY ENDS WITH A CAT UFO OR IT DOESN’T END AT ALL

every play has to end, Andrew

NOT THIS ONE
THIS ONE ENDS WITH A CAT UFO OR ELSE THE AUDIENCE CAN SIT IN THEIR FUCKING CHAIRS AND LISTEN TO ME WRITE GENIUS ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS ON THE FLY UNTIL THEY STARVE TO ACTUAL DEATH

okay
well 

FROM NOW ON NO PLAYS END UNTIL I SAY SO 
PUT THAT IN MY CONTRACT
NO PLAYS END UNTIL I, ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, APPEAR IN THE STAGEDOOR AND ANNOUNCE "THIS PLAY IS FINISHED. IT'S A MEMORY. I, ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER, RELEASE YOU INTO YOUR OWN FUTURES"
AND I MAY OR MAY NOT BE WEARING A CAPE WHILE I SAY IT, I HAVEN'T DECIDED

why don't we talk about this in the car 
do you know what street you're on? 

NO 
AND I REFUSE TO READ ANYTHING THAT WASN'T WRITTEN BY TIM RICE SO DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT TELLING ME TO LOOK AT THE STREET SIGNS
I AM STANDING NEAR SOMEONE WEARING BROWN SHOES 
NEARISH ANYHOW 
IF YOU'RE NOT HERE IN THE NEXT EIGHT MINUTES I AM GOING TO STEAL A LICENSED TAXI AND HEAD NORTH UNTIL I REACH HOME 
 

***


EVERYONE WAKE UP
JEMERALD
WAKE EVERYONE UP
(N.B. Jemerald, Ben and I have decided, is what ALW insists on calling his head butler, regardless of their given name. There have been seven Jemeralds.)

yes, Lord Webber?

CALL SONDHEIM
WAKE HIM UP
I DON’T CARE WHAT TIME IT IS IN NEW YORK
IF I CAN’T SLEEP THEN STEPHEN SONDHEIM CAN’T SLEEP EITHER
I’M GOING TO MAKE HIM DO ANOTHER DUET FOR CHARITY WITH ME
AND HE IS GOING TO FUCKING HATE IT
AHAHAHHAHAHA I’M GOING TO MAKE HIM WEAR A CONDUCTOR’S HAT AND SING “A LOTTA LOCOMOTION” UNTIL HE WANTS TO EAT HIS OWN HEART

yes, sir

AND TELL HIM HE’S NOT BETTER THAN ME JUST BECAUSE HE DOESN’T WANT TO GET LUNCH WITH ANYBODY
THAT DOESN’T MAKE HIM BETTER THAN ME

very good, sir

SEND THE JET FOR HIM
AND WHEN HE GETS HERE
I WANT HIM TO SHAVE OFF HIS BEARD EXTREMELY SLOWLY IN THE CHANDELIER PARLOR WHILE LISTENING TO ME SING EVERY SONG HE WROTE FOR THE DICK TRACY MOVIE
I KNOW HE DOES AN IMPRESSION OF ME AFTER I LEAVE PARTIES, JEMERALD
AND I DON’T CARE
I’VE GOT A CHRISTING BARONY AND ALL HE’S GOT IS A QUARTERLY REVIEW NAMED AFTER HIM
WHAT ARE YOU A BARON OF, STEPHEN?
LONELINESS???
THAT’S NOT AN INHERITABLE TITLE

Mr. Sondheim is not yet arrived, sir

I KNOW THAT
DON’T YOU THINK I KNOW THAT

of course, sir

BUT HE CAN HEAR ME JUST THE SAME
JUST AS I CAN ALWAYS HEAR HIM
THAT POLYPHONIC SON OF A BITCH
 

***
JEMERALD GET ROGER WATERS ON THE PHONE 
I WANT HIM TO EXPLAIN TO ME WHY I LOOK SO MUCH LIKE CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS

right away, sir

AND IF HE DOESN'T PICK UP THEN I WANT YOU TO BUY THE RIGHTS TO "WISH YOU WERE HERE" 
I'LL REISSUE IT WITH EVERY SONG SUNG BY FUCKING CHIMNEYS 
CHIMNEYS THAT ARE HAUNTED BY THE SPIRIT OF AMERICAN MYSTERY NOVELIST EDGAR ALLAN POE 
I'LL BUY THE RIGHTS TO ROGER WATERS' FACE AND MAKE HIM PLAY FIVER IN A MUSICAL VERSION OF WATERSHIP DOWN UNTIL HE TALKS TO ME