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Marti Webb
Born December 13, 1944 (1944-12-13) (age 65)
Origin Cricklewood, London, England
Genres musical theatre, easy listening
Occupations Singer, actress
Years active 1963 - present

Marti Webb (born 13 December 1944, Cricklewood, North West London) is a musical actress from England, who appeared on stage in Evita, before starring in Andrew Lloyd Webber's one woman show Tell Me On A Sunday in 1980. This included her biggest hit single, "Take That Look Off Your Face".

Contents

Early career

Having studied at the Aida Foster Stage School, Webb first came to prominence as Ann in the original London production of Half a Sixpence opposite Tommy Steele. She later dubbed the singing voice of Julia Foster, her replacement for the film adaptation. Immediately prior to her appearance in Half a Sixpence, Webb had made her West End debut in Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, which starred and had lyrics by Anthony Newley, whom Webb considered to be her mentor. She also played Nancy in the first UK tour of Oliver! where she met and befriended the show's Assistant Stage Manager Cameron Mackintosh, who was to become one of the most prominent musical theatre producers in world. When the production returned to the West End, Phil Collins who later achieved fame with Genesis played The Artful Dodger.

During the 1970s she carved out a career as a respected, though not yet famous, West End actress and singer appearing in both The Card, written by Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent, and Godspell, opposite David Essex, Julie Covington and Jeremy Irons.

Evita, Tell Me on a Sunday and 1980s

In 1979 she began to appear as a regular alternate to Elaine Paige in the original London production of Evita, taking over the role full time in 1980 just as the album of Tell Me on a Sunday was released.[1] This was a #3 hit in the UK Albums Chart, and saw Webb become a household name.

The album of Tell Me on a Sunday had music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Don Black and was based on the story of the composer's friend, who had moved from London to the United States to begin a new life. Webb was asked to collaborate on the piece when only two songs had been written, so the rest of the album was created specifically with her voice and character in mind. Black, who became her manager and a close friend, said of her performance, "She was the girl, and that was it." Her tendency to, "Talk for hours about the most boring everyday things, like the gas or insurance," also inspired him in creating the narrative pieces in the song cycle which were letters to the character's mum.[2]

Webb has a distinctive, untrained voice and Lloyd Webber was said to have told her "You sing in my keys." She apparently retorted, "You write in mine." He produced her second solo album Won't Change Places (1980) which featured two songs written by Lynsey De Paul: "All I Am" and "What You Gonna do With Your Freedom". She has regularly performed at the Sydmonton Festival, Lloyd Webber's private gathering where new work is tried-out prior to a public debut.

When Tell Me on a Sunday was combined with Lloyd Webber's other successful album Variations, which had featured his brother, cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, to create the show Song and Dance, Webb reprised her role as the unnamed girl in the first act. In the second act Wayne Sleep and a dance troupe performed choreographed routines to Variations. The pair toured with the show extensively in the latter half of the decade.

In the mid 1980s, she again succeeded Elaine Paige, as Grizabella in the musical Cats both in the West End production at the New London Theatre and subsequently on a UK tour.

1990s and beyond

Webb co-devised and starred in 'The Magic of the Musicals', a UK concert tour featuring songs from musical theatre in 1992 opposite Opportunity Knocks winner Mark Rattray. The gold selling album of the show was co-produced by Webb's former husband, sound engineer, Tom Button. BBC Television also filmed and broadcast the show. This was followed in 1993 by a North American and Canadian tour and numerous UK versions in the following years, in which Rattray was succeeded by Dave Willetts, Robert Meadmore and most recently Wayne Sleep.[3]

In 1995, at the age of 50, Webb reprised her leading role in a UK tour of Evita, opposite Chris Corcoran as Che and Duncan Smith as Peron. Despite some criticism over her age, the popularity of the tour, produced by Robert Stigwood and David Land with the orchestrations, stage design and direction of the original 1978 London production, led to it being extended throughout 1996.

In 2003, Webb joined the UK touring production of The King and I, taking over from Stefanie Powers in the role of Anna Leonowens opposite Ronobir Lahiri as The King. Elaine Paige had appeared in the London version of the production three years earlier.

She appeared in the 2003 London stage production of Thoroughly Modern Millie uniquely alternating the role of Mrs Meers with Maureen Lipman, to allow Lipman to nurse her terminally ill husband.[4]

At the beginning of the following year, she again reprised her role in Tell Me On A Sunday, first for a limited run before the closure of the show in the West End and subsequently tour. The show had been substantially rewritten for a production starring Denise Van Outen, but a combination of the new and original scores was created specifically for Webb. She appeared in many of the principal venues on the tour, but in other locations the show was performed by Faye Tozer and Patsy Palmer.

In recent years, Webb has spent many Christmas seasons in pantomime in venues throughout the UK, such as 2006 where she played the Fairy Godmother in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Theatre Royal, Windsor.[5]

Recording Career

Webb's first solo album was Tell Me on a Sunday recorded during 1979 and then released in 1980. She had previously appeared on the cast recordings of Stop the World I Want to Get Off (1961), Half a Sixpence (1963), Godspell (1970) and The Card (1974).

During 1981 and 1982, Webb recorded her next album, I'm Not That Kind Of Girl, which was eventually released in 1983. Although not based on a musical, the album had a running story concerning a woman who is reunited with a former lover. The album culminates with her on the way to their wedding. The songs were composed by David Hentschel and Don Black and were very much in a contemporary pop vein. Phil Collins played drums on the album and Kiki Dee contributed backing vocals. Despite the album's strong pedigree, it failed to chart and was Webb's final album on the Polydor label.

She sang a cover version of Michael Jackson's, "Ben", in memory of Ben Hardwick, who died shortly after becoming Britain's youngest liver transplant patient and whose story was publicized on the BBC television programme That's Life!. The single reached #5 in the UK Singles Chart and was included on her 1985 album, Encore. She also later released "Always There", a version of the theme to BBC television drama Howards' Way, which was written by Simon May and Leslie Osbourne with lyrics by Don Black. The success of this inspired an album of the same name in which she covered other television themes.

In 1990, on the last studio collaboration between Alan Parsons and Eric Woolfson, the album Freudiana, Webb performed two songs: the solo "Don't Let the Moment Pass" and "No One Can Love You Better Than Me" in which she joined forces with Woolfson, Gary Howard and Kiki Dee.

1995 saw the release of an album entitled Music and Songs from Evita as part of Pickwick Records' The Shows Collection series. Webb contributed a number of tracks, performing alongside Jess Conrad, Carl Wayne and Dave Willetts.

A live recording of her season of cabaret performances at London's Café Royal was released in 1998 as Marti Webb Sings Gershwin: The Love Songs. The album was produced by Webb with West End sound designer Mick Potter.

Recent work

In 2007, Webb played alongside Sheila Ferguson and Rula Lenska in Hot Flush, a new musical about the menopause.[6]

She appeared in a concert tribute to Don Black on his 70th birthday that was broadcast on BBC Radio 2 in August 2008. From September to December 2008, she appeared as Mrs Johnstone in the UK touring production of Blood Brothers (musical), succeeding Linda Nolan who left due to illness.[7] Birmingham-born Niki Evans was playing the role in the West End at the time, so while the tour visited Birmingham, Webb briefly took over in the London production to allow Evans to play her home city.

Webb has recently appeared on a number of P&O cruise ships, including the MV Arcadia in February/March 2009.

In 2010, she is scheduled to star as Aunt Eller in a UK tour of Oklahoma!.

Charity work

She is a patron of The Players Music Hall Theatre in London, which specialises in Victorian variety theatre.

Personal life

Webb has married and divorced three times but has no children. She was married to Alexander Balfour in 1963, the actor Tim Flavin briefly in 1985, and sound engineer Tom Button, 25 years her junior, in the early 1990s. She lives in an apartment in Westminster and a cottage in Langport, Somerset.

Stage appearances

Television appearances

Albums

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Solo albums

Cast recordings

  • Stop the World - I Want to Get Off (1961)
  • Half a Sixpence (1963)
  • Half a Sixpence Studio version (1967)
  • Godspell (1971)
  • The Card (1973)
  • The Good Companions (1974)
  • Song and Dance (1982)
  • Divorce Me, Darling (1997)

Singles

  • "Take That Look Off Your Face" (1980) (UK #3)
  • "Tell Me on a Sunday" (1980) (UK #67)
  • "Your Ears Should be Burning Now" (1980) (UK #61)
  • "I've Been in Love Too Long" (1981)
  • "Unexpected Song", a duet with Justin Hayward (1981)
  • "Last Man in My Life" (1982)
  • "I'm Not that Kind of Girl" (1983)
  • "Didn't Mean to Fall in Love" (1983)
  • "For the Touch of Your Love" (1983)
  • "Ben" (1985) (UK #5)
  • "Ready for Roses Now" (1985)
  • "Always There" (Marti Webb & The Simon May Orchestra) (1986) (UK #13)
  • "I Could Be So Good for You" (1986)
  • "I Can't Let Go" (1987) (UK #65)
  • "In One of My Weaker Moments" (1989)
  • "Don't Let the Moment Pass" (1990)

References

  1. ^ Coveney, M: "Cats on a Chandelier, The Andrew Lloyd Webber Story", page 85. Random House, 1999
  2. ^ Inverne, J:"Wrestling With Elephants, The Authorised Biography of Don Black", page 137. Sanctuary Publishing, 2003
  3. ^ Fuller, Clive. "Theatre Reviews and Features: The Magic of the Musicals, In Concert", "BBC", February 22, 2006. Accessed April 2, 2008
  4. ^ Gans, Andrew. "Diva Talk: West End Star Marti Webb Chats About Evita, Song & Dance and New Millie Role", "Playbill", October 10, 2003. Accessed April 3, 2008
  5. ^ "Events, Gig and Theatre Guide: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "BBC", November 28, 2006. Accessed April 3, 2008
  6. ^ Lewis & Aitken. "Theatre and Dance Reviews: Hot night out!", "BBC", September 26, 2007. Accessed April 3, 2008
  7. ^ Hardwick. "Rescuing Mrs J", "The Northern Echo", September 26, 2008. Accessed October 1, 2008

Simple English

Marti Webb is a British actress and singer born in London in 1944.

She has notably played roles in musical theatre including Evita, Cats, Godspell, The King and I, Annie, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Goodbye Girl and Song and Dance.

She first came to prominence with the song cycle "Tell Me on a Sunday" which was written for her by Don Black and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Webb recently returned to the show after it was revamped for Denise Van Outen in the West End before she took it on a UK tour.


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