521 CHRONICLESnEven to call them musicals is insultingnto the genre they claim to be part of.nFollowing the box-ofEce success ofnJesus Christ Superstar and Evita — hisntwo breakthrough musicals of then70’s—^ Lloyd Webber’s penetration ofnBroadway has accelerated, spearheadingninfiltration by other British musicalnproducts. Lloyd Webber’s Cats (1981)nand Song and Dance (1982) seemednto pave the way for Me and My Girl, anrevival of a 30’s British musical. Then1987 Broadway opening of his StarlightnExpress (1984) practically coincidednwith Les Miserables, also producednby Lloyd Webber’s regularnproducer, Mackintosh. And now hisnPhantom preceded the British Chessn(in which Lloyd Webber’s ex-lyricistnTim Rice had a major hand) as well asnCarrie.nAs British theater critic SheridannMorley puts it, “What also matterednabout Evita was that, for the first time,nan English musical had been marketednas if it were American: film rights werensold for a million dollars (though thenfilm itself has yet to be made), Broadwaynand worldwide tours were soonnnegotiated, and there was no way ofndoubting, as Elaine Paige stood on thatnstage balcony singing ‘Don’t Cry fornMe Argentina,’ that the West Endnmusical had at last woken up andnThe real mystery in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s production of Phantom seems to be,nwhat happened to the plot?nnngrown up. This, after 50 years ofndodging the issue, was to be the bid fornthe big international blockbuster, and itnworked: the night of a thousand nightsnbecame just that, and more.”nBut in the struggle between Americannand British musical output, thendeclared war is complicated by thenterms of the skirmishes. The LloydnWebber contingencies have shrewdlyndiscovered a way to make their offeringsncritic-proof. The logic goes somethingnlike this: open in London firstnand carefully manipulate the hype tonbuild an advance sale in New York—nrendering the opinion of the Timesnsuperfluous in the process.nThough Jesus Christ Superstarnopened in New York in the fall ofn1971, 10 months before it landed innLondon, it thrived on the record salesnthat heralded its appearance. More tonthe point, every subsequent LloydnWebber offering had its premiere innLondon roughly a year before NewnYork. In the meantime, Clive Barnes,nwho was then the Times critic, callednthe score of Jesus Christ Superstarn”cheap, like the Christmas decorationsnof a chic Fifth Avenue store” — evennMorley claimed that Jesus Christ wasn”designed to reassure the middle agednwithout actively alienating the young.”nIn response to Evita in 1979, WalternKerr wrote, “Though the Rice-nWebber score sometimes sounds asnthough Max Steiner had arranged itnfor Carmen Miranda, there are waltzesnand polkas and threatening marches tonkeep us alert.” Today, Frank Rich hasnfound Phantom “a characteristic LloydnWebber project—long on pop professionalismnand melody, impoverished ofnartistic personality and passion … asnmuch a victory of dynamic stagecraftnover musical kitsch as it is a triumph ofnmerchandising ilber alles.” During thisnsame period, any new American entrynis denied the privilege of disregarding anTimes review and its producers arenquickly compelled to post a closingnnotice if “the Times didn’t like it” isnuttered offstage.nBut should Lloyd Webber benblamed alone when the audiences havenbeen so receptive? He has come, andnhe has seen, but he has’ conquerednonly because the barbarians have beennready victims. If, as Mimi Kramernsuggests in her review of Phantom fornThe New Yorker, a Lloyd Webbern