Andrew Lloyd Webber, iconic composer, reflects on his career and what makes a show endure

Andrew Lloyd Webber is known for some of Broadway's biggest hits. He's the composer behind "Evita," "Jesus Christ Superstar", "Cats" and "The Phantom of the Opera." CBS News contributor Jamie Wax caught up with the legendary music man ahead of the Sunday's Tony Awards , where he'll be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award.


Andrew Lloyd Webber celebrated his 70th birthday this year, and he can hardly believe it. He's been composing to great stories for over five decades.   

"I sort of seem to have got more energy at the moment than I think I can ever remember," Lloyd Webber said.

"And I'm desperately wanting to find a new show to write. I can't find a subject at the moment. It's very annoying. Because, you know, the thing about musicals is that a great story can really, really carry an awful lot. ... A good score can't necessarily sustain a bad story."

What is it in a story that grabs him? He's not totally sure.

"Well I don't think there's a necessarily unifying theme. And of course somebody's going to immediately say, 'Well, he's talking rubbish. Because what about Cats? That doesn't have a story.' But I always say 'Cats' is the kind of exception that proves the rule. ... .In the end it's got to have something that I think audiences, you know, relate to."

ctm-saturday-clean-feed-20180609-cr470c-0700-0900-02-frame-45296.jpg

CBS News contributor Jamie Wax and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber

CBS News

Lloyd Webber is also the composer of hit musical "School Of Rock," based on the movie of the same name about a struggling rock singer masquerading as a substitute teacher who discovers the musical talent of his students.  

"I think the thing about School of Rock which had-- and it attracted me to it-- is it's about the empowering force of music for children. I mean, I am passionate about music and education," Lloyd Webber said. "It's not about turning kids into musicians, necessarily. Well it's nice if they are, or they do become, but it changes behavior. It changes attitudes. And I've seen it happen… There is a value to notes, and a rhythm, and this, that, and the other, it kind of spills off into all of these other areas."

In fact, his breakthrough musical, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," was written for an English boys' school, along with lyricist Tim Rice.

"Did the two of you ever dream a future like you've had?" Wax asked.

"I don't know. I mean, Tim was, I suppose, possibly less kind of obsessed with musical theater than I was. But I guess the answer is, of course, no.  I mean, when I think of the little school concert on a Friday afternoon in the rain, with bored parents thinking, 'We want to get home. Let's get out of here before the rush hour.' And then thinking to where I am now, I can't believe it," Lloyd Webber said.

The six-time Tony winner is back in New York for Sunday night's Tony Awards. One of those awards includes his 1988 win for "The Phantom of the Opera." Now in its 31st year, the show's run is the longest in Broadway history. It's a fact that doesn't surprise him.

"I'm not surprised; actually, any more than I'm surprised when I go and see 'Lion King,' you know, which I saw a couple of months ago. ... It's one of those rare moments where absolutely everything comes together. It doesn't happen very often in a musical. I mean Phantom, obviously, 'Lion King,' and it's done it with 'Hamilton,'" he said. "It's just where every single ingredient, from design, choreography, direction, music, and they all mesh into one extraordinary whole."

Why that is? He wishes he knew.

Despite the countless titles and accolades, the honor he'll receive at Sunday night's Tony Awards is "the special one."

"Broadway is the home of musical theater and to receive that as a Brit, is something that I could never have dreamt of."

ctm-saturday-clean-feed-20180609-cr470c-0700-0900-02-frame-44124.jpg

CBS News contributor Jamie Wax and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber

CBS News