Andrew Lloyd Webber and Antonio Banderas team up for Spanish venture

Composer and actor launch theatre production company focusing on Spanish-speaking audiences

One is an award-winning composer whose musicals have been staged the world over. The other, an Oscar-nominated actor whose career has crisscrossed continents, genres and languages.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Antonio Banderas are joining forces in an attempt to launch musicals, stage plays and live entertainment aimed at Spanish-speaking audiences around the world.

“We haven’t always treated Spanish-speaking audiences the way we should have,” Lord Lloyd Webber told reporters in Madrid. “We want to bring them excellence.”

He and Banderas were in the Spanish capital to announce the launch of a joint venture named Amigos Para Siempre, a nod to the pop ballad of the same name penned by Lloyd Webber for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

The collaboration was the brainchild of Lloyd Webber, who put it to Banderas during a recent dinner in London. The pair’s friendship dates back decades, forged after Banderas played Che in the movie version of Evita.

Productions will range from Spanish takes on some of Lloyd Webber’s biggest hits, such as The Phantom of the Opera or Jesus Christ Superstar, as well as new works developed by the company.

“The idea is to join forces to achieve the same quality of shows you get in London’s West End or New York’s Broadway, but in our language,” said Banderas.

The aim is not simply to put Spanish lines on Lloyd Webber’s best-known productions – a strategy the composer readily admits has been hit or miss in the past. Instead the productions plan to pay heed to the diversity that exists across the Spanish-speaking world.

“In the past, a translation might be done in Spain and then performed in Mexico or Argentina,” said Banderas. “And that’s not fair because even though we speak the same language, we don’t have the same expressions and in the end the shows don’t land as they are supposed to.”

The hope is to go wherever there are Spanish speakers, including US states such as California, Florida and New York, tapping into an audience that ranks as one of the largest and fastest-growing in the world.

The ambitious strategy comes as many in the entertainment sector continue to reel from the devastating impact of the pandemic, offering a potential salve after Lloyd Webber said last year he had been forced to remortgage his London home.

Banderas, who in 2019 opened his own theatre in the southern Spanish city of Málaga, described the project as a balm for the steadily eroding tradition of going to the cinema. “In contrast, there is no Netflix for theatre. You can stream works but that’s not theatre,” he said.

Sign up to First Edition, our free daily newsletter – every weekday morning at 7am BST

The duo declined to give a timeline, saying instead that the summer would be spent scouting potential production spaces and collaborators.

One musical that probably will not be the headliner is Cats, the musical hit that in 2019 became a movie described by the Guardian as a “purr-fectly dreadful hairball of woe”.

Lloyd Webber hinted that the movie had left him scarred. “I hated it,” he said. “There’s an American airline where you can bring a dog with you if you have a justifiable reason, such as if it’s for therapy or you get nervous. I made the request and put the reason as the ‘Cats movie,’” he added. “They understood perfectly.”


Ashifa Kassam in Madrid

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Andrew Lloyd Webber does Eurovision

Carrie Dunn: Lloyd Webber is turning his sights from the West End to Moscow. Which of his top tunes could be the Eurovision hit of 2009?

Carrie Dunn

20, Oct, 2008 @11:57 AM

Article image
Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd Webber – digested read
The memoirs of British musical theatre’s foremost composer are rendered prestissimo by John Crace

John Crace

11, Mar, 2018 @5:00 PM

Article image
Andrew Lloyd Webber to star in Nintendo Wii game

Andrew Lloyd Webber Musicals: Sing and Dance will let gamers perform his songs and compete in Superstar-style sing-offs

Matt Trueman

02, Aug, 2012 @12:29 PM

Article image
Killing Eve's Emerald Fennell and Andrew Lloyd Webber create new Cinderella
Musical will premiere in London in September with new story and ‘hugely witty’ lyrics

Chris Wiegand

10, Jan, 2020 @11:19 AM

Article image
Andrew Lloyd Webber working on Profumo musical
Composer reveals he is considering 1960s sex-and-politics scandal as subject for his next musical

Matt Trueman

27, Feb, 2012 @12:29 PM

Article image
Andrew Lloyd Webber calls Cats film 'ridiculous'
Composer of hit musical says director Tom Hooper didn’t consult those involved in the original show when making his widely panned film adaptation

Catherine Shoard

03, Aug, 2020 @12:07 PM

Article image
Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cinderella to close in the West End
Shock news that show will end in June at London’s Gillian Lynne theatre brings heartache for company and those who had been due to join cast

Chris Wiegand

02, May, 2022 @8:21 AM

Article image
Why Stephen Ward was the wrong musical for Andrew Lloyd Webber

Michael Billington: Audiences struggled to relate to the 50-year-old Profumo scandal. Lloyd Webber needs to focus on passionate love

Michael Billington

25, Feb, 2014 @1:10 PM

Article image
Andrew Lloyd Webber cancels opening night of Cinderella due to Covid case
The composer calls it ‘a devastating decision that will affect the livelihoods of hundreds of people, and disappoint thousands’

Chris Wiegand

19, Jul, 2021 @4:33 PM

Article image
Andrew Lloyd Webber reveals collaborators on Profumo musical
Composer to team up with Sunset Boulevard's Don Black and Christopher Hampton on new musical about 60s sex scandal

Matt Trueman

20, Dec, 2012 @3:28 PM