​Andrew Lloyd Webber's golden touch

Andrew Lloyd Webber

"Yes, absolutely!"

"How many do you have?"

"Well, at the moment, I have four. Yeah, all Turkish Van cats. A Van cat is a swimming cat; they like going to a swimming pool."

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Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman in "The Phantom of the Opera." Joan Marcus/Photofest

Are they friendly? "Very friendly. They're very friendly, but they're also extremely strong-willed."

With "Cats" and then "Phantom of the Opera," Lloyd Webber became famous beyond the world of musical theater.

He said he was even asked to play Mozart in the movie, "Amadeus." "And I turned it down!" he laughed. "It was one of those things, the more I said, 'No,' the more they thought it was a great idea.

"Finally I said, 'I'm really not doing this. Look, I am really flattered but there is an issue: If I play the role, it's got to be my music, not Mozart's.' I thought that might get rid of them. Well, one of them said, actually, 'You know, that's a rather good idea now.' Oh, no, no! Please, please free me!"

Lloyd Webber seems keenly aware of his own limits. When asked why he hasn't written the lyrics to his shows, he replied, "Because I can't."

Has he tried? "When I was a kid, I tried. And then I soon learned this was not a skill that -- I mean, writing lyrics is something which is very specific, and the great lyric writers, they have a turn of phrase and a way of writing that I simply couldn't get near."

And not all of his shows have been smash hits on Broadway, such as "Starlight Express."

"What was up with the musical where everybody was on roller skates pretending they were trains?" asked Rocca.

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A scene from the 1987 musical, "Starlight Express." New York Public Library/Martha Swope

"Oh, that was fun, great fun. It was a very stupid idea to bring it here in the form that it was. I hugely opposed it. It's still running in Germany and places. It's written for kids, entirely written for kids."

But don't cry for Andrew Lloyd Webber. He's got an Oscar, three Grammys and seven Tonys. And "Phantom of the Opera" is the longest-running Broadway show ever.

Rocca broached a delicate subject: "I know that a lot of British people don't like to talk about money, but I'm not British, so I have to ask: By some measure, you're the richest man in all of pop music..."

"I very much doubt that."

"I think you are, you've got like a billion dollars."

"I've done extremely well, but I think you might find that the composer and the lyricist of 'The Lion King' were rather ahead of me, I think so."

"Really? You think that Elton John has more money than you?"

"Oh, yeah!"

"No. There's no way."

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A new revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats" has just opened on Broadway. Facebook

"Well, he goes out for a few million dollars a concert, for a start," said Lloyd Webber.

"A billion is a thousand million!"

"Listen, it really doesn't matter. The most important thing with money is to use it and that's why I have my foundation. But I can assure you that I am nowhere near the top of the tree when it comes to the rich Brits in music."

We stand corrected: Andrew Lloyd Webber is number two, just behind Sir Paul McCartney, on the list of rich Brits in music. So, he's doing just fine.

"So we've come to the part of the interview where we sum up your life," said Rocca. "How would you describe it?"

"Well, I think I'm the luckiest man alive, really," he replied. "Because I've been able to do the one thing in my life that I really love. I'm 67 now, and I'm still doing it. And I don't intend to stop."


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