By Jason Moore

LORD Andrew Lloyd Webber has been busy singing the island's praises since buying a home here, almost two years ago.
While the theatre empresario loves Deya he has also found another vital element, which we often overlook. “It has some of the finest restaurants in the world,” he told the Bulletin yesterday.
And he knows his stuff, for many years he was a restaurant critic for the Daily Telegraph.
He is spreading the word about the island's culinary delights and the top chefs are certainly taking note. His love for Majorcan cuisine was just one of the issues he discussed in a wide-ranging interview with the Bulletin yesterday ahead of his appearance at the Deya literary festival tomorrow.

He also announced that during the festival a nine minute trailer of the movie version of his Phantom of the Opera would be shown.
Lord Webber compares Deya to once sought after places in France which have now, in his opinion, changed dramatically. This is one of the reasons why he sold up in France and has now bought a home in Deya.

He says that the village made famous by Robert Graves is like home from home because he is always meeting old friends either in the Hotel La Residencia or in one of Deya's numerous top restaurants.

What brought you to Majorca? “It was a bit of a mistake really. It was Sir David Frost who mentioned Majorca to me, he had come down to interview Michael Douglas and he said what a nice place it was. I had owned a house in France for many years but I didn't really like the way it was going. It was all right if you spoke Russian but I found it had changed too much. So David said to me why don't you go and stay at La Residencia in Deya. I said fine but I didn't really think that Majorca was me, Magalluf and all that. I had only been to Majorca once before. But I went to the Residencia and I thought it was fantastic. I remember it was raining and one of the few things you can do when it is raining is go house-hunting. We saw a house above the village and thought it was absolutely beautiful. So I got to know Deya a bit and went round the restaurants and I asked some of my foodie friends and they agreed that Majorca was the place to be. What I also like is that there are so many people, who are not mega-rich but successful in their profession who stay there. I know that I can always walk into La Residencia and find someone I know, which is great. So I've now got a house in Deya and spend quite a considerable amount of time here.” How often do you come to the island? “I've been down here at least a dozen times. And I can see myself coming back a lot. It reminds me a bit of how areas in the South of France used to be. And I just hope that it doesn't go the same way. Deya is such a charming place.” You are taking part in the Deya literary festival this weekend. What do you think that the festival will do for the village? “It's difficult to tell. Simon Finch (the organiser of the event) has made a major success of his Hay-on-Wye festival in Britain and the best thing to do is to support it from the ground-floor upwards. If it can be as successful as Hay-on Wye then it would be fantastic. I feel that Majorca has more to offer than Hay-on-Wye, as a venue because of the restaurants.” There is a certain buzz around Deya at the moment? “Yes, you just keep on reading about it. There is a long piece today in one of the American newspapers. It's incredible but not surprising.” The question which everyone wants to know the answer to in Majorca at the moment is would you consider writing anything about the island for a West End show? “I don't know because the thing about a musical is that you need a good story and stories that work for a musical don't grow on trees. It took me a while to find the Woman in White (his latest West End hit). I've got the Phantom of the Opera movie coming out this year and I've got to go round the world promoting it. Until I've got that out the way I am not too sure what I will be doing next.” What state is the West End in at the moment? “The congestion charge hasn't stopped theatre-goers I think it might have actually helped. The government is very conscious of some of the issues which affect the area. The council is helping to clean it up. Our corner (where the Woman in White is, and where Mary Poppins will soon open) is pretty buzzing and its pretty good. And in some ways it's like Deya with its restaurants as long as good shows are being performed people will come.” Are you pleased with how the Woman in White is going? “Yes, I am very much. It's a grown-up musical. The gamble was, with all these remakes, whether there was going to be an audience for it, but thankfully a vast number of people are so glad that there is a new musical.” It is a gamble isn't it? “Yes, it's a lot easier to put together a dull musical today than something like the Woman in White. But there you go.” I know it sounds ridiculous after all your success but some people were asking before the Woman in White whether or not you had lost your touch....? “At the moment the Woman in White is the second top selling record in Britain and for most of last week, it was the Number 1....So I don't think I am all washed up just yet!” And the future? “I have written 14 musicals and I might not do one for a bit. If the Phantom of the Opera movie is a success, which I think it will be, then Hollywood will wake up to the idea of doing musicals. Chicago was a big success and I suspect the Phanton will be also. Hollywood used to be rather negative about musicals, they are not anymore and I might turn my hand to doing things for the cinema.” Of all the works you have done which is your favourite? “I don't have one. They are all children... Each one has its own place. It would be stupid to say that the Phantom of the Opera wasn't special because it defied all gravity and I never thought that I could do it again but along came Cats.” Which do you think is easier the West End or Broadway? “They are about the same. A musical on Broadway can close overnight but overall they are about equal.” Is there quite a good atmosphere in the West End at the moment? “Yes, there is I think the musical houses are going to do well, but I think the playhouses might have a problem because they are not ideal for a modern audience.” We've got a number of budding amateur dramatic companies on the island. What advice would you give to them? “The most important thing is to get your work performed. When Tim Rice and I first started we wanted to get our work on to the West End. We didn't. So we did it at a school and it went very well, and it got bigger then it got noticed. Six months later we got a review in the Sunday Times and we went from there. Everybody is always looking for new material and I am sure that if a fantastic play came on here West End producers would be down in a flash. The most important thing is to get your work performed.” Lord Webber will be speaking at the Deya festival tomorrow, Saturday, at 12p.m. He will be talking with Peter Florence. The festival gets underway this afternoon at 6p.m. with an open question time and discussion about great writing and reading with Spanish and Catalan writers and journalists.


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