"One of my great regrets is that I never got the chance to work with Julie Andrews. "

Andrew Lloyd Webber on Julie Andrews

The Sun Online - 17 May 07
By Andrew Lloyd Webber

Julie Andrews is a complete star

ONE of my great regrets is that I never got the chance to work with Julie Andrews.

It is a great shame as I would have loved to write something for her.

She is undoubtedly pretty extraordinary. Our paths have crossed throughout the years and she has always been so gracious and friendly.

But what makes her so great is that she possesses a very rare thing — an intangible quality that makes a real star. She has the ability to make something completely timeless.

I suppose that hers is a true Cinderella story. She has worked so hard and strived for everything she has ever achieved.

Julie had a tough childhood in the war in London before becoming a star. She was on the stage at just ten years old and her schooling was at the hands of governesses.

She learnt she had perfect pitch — a rare thing — as a child.

She was discovered and taken to New York and made her Broadway debut in 1954, on the eve of her 19th birthday.

Then she created the role of Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady on Broadway. She was 21, which is extraordinary.

Julie’s heartbreak after losing the role of Eliza in the big film version of My Fair Lady is folklore. Despite the fact the role went to Audrey Hepburn, who did not even sing in the film, everybody knows that Julie IS Eliza.

But if Julie had starred in the film she would never have played Mary Poppins — which won her an Oscar.

My Fair Lady was also completely outgrossed by Mary Poppins and then The Sound Of Music. It was pulverised.

She was so brilliant as Maria von Trapp — but the truth is that people thought the movie was going to be a flop.

Julie tells the story of how a famous producer saw a preview screening and turned around and told her, “You’re good enough for your career to survive this.” In the US they thought it was going to bomb!

Of course, The Sound Of Music was a smash hit and is completely iconic.

While all this was going on, Julie had starred in the most-watched television special ever, Rodgers And Hammerstein’s Cinderella — the biggest Broadway musical of all time.

It eclipsed even today’s American Idol, with 100million viewers. That is almost inconceivable.

The bottom line is that Julie Andrews is the only British musical theatre actress who transferred to the screen and became a successful film star. She is up there with the likes of Barbra Streisand. There are very few who have made that transition.

Very recently I was going through some old vinyl albums and came across an original copy of Camelot.

I’d forgotten how beautifully clear Julie’s voice was. It had the most beautiful clear, bell-like tone.

There won’t ever be another Julie Andrews. She is a complete star and magical — a true British icon.