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"Love Changes Everything"

One of Andrew Lloyd Webber's lesser known musicals. Based on a novella of the same title by David Garnett, it concerns Alex Dillingham, a young English soldier travelling through France. He meets Rose Vibert, a flighty, nymphomaniacal French actress. There's also Alex's uncle George and his lover, Giulietta Trapani, an Italian (presumably Venetian) sculptress. The show details the romantic entanglements and relationships between these people over a period of several years, later including Jenny, George and Rose's daughter.


It has received very mixed reactions since its inception (Frank Rich of the New York Times wrote: "What neither Mr. Lloyd Webber nor his collaborators can provide is a semblance of the humanity that is also, to some, an aspect of love.") It's certainly not what the public was used to compared to Lloyd Webber's other big musicals at the time, such as Cats, Starlight Express and The Phantom of the Opera. It tries to rely more on the substance of the characters and is more reserved, and possibly more sophisticated, than his bigger hits of The '80s.


This show contains examples of:

  • The '40s: The first act of the show takes place starting in 1947.
  • The '60s: The second act starts in '61.
  • Adaptation Distillation
  • Adaptation Name Change: In the novella, Alexis Golightly is consistently identified by his full first name, while the musical always calls him Alex, omitting any suggestion that it is "short" for anything, and changes his last name to Dillingham, matching George's. Also, the character of Vincent is renamed Hugo in the musical. Finally, the name of George's first wife in the musical was changed from Delia to Celia when the libretto and score were revised in 2013.
  • Age Lift: Jenny is thirteen at the climax of the novella; the same events take place on her fifteenth birthday in the musical (presumably to reduce the Squick factor of her crush on Alex).
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  • All Musicals Are Adaptations
  • Anything That Moves: Jenny is pretty much the only aversion among the main characters.
  • Better Partner Assertion: Alex and George spend a whole song asserting that the other would be the better partner for Rose, ignoring the rest of the Love Dodecahedron.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Alex and his uncle sleep with both the female leads (as does the female lead) and Alex is hit on by his teenaged cousin - who may actually be his biological daughter. Either way...yikes.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Rose, being French, occasionally sings in French. Also the Musical Pastiche "Parlez-Vous Francais?" which plays in the cafe during Rose and Alex's first date.
  • Book Ends: "Love Changes Everything" begins and ends the show.
  • Cool Old Guy: George, full stop.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: When played on TV as a single, "The First Man You'll Remember" is a duet between lovers. As staged in the show, it's George and his daughter Jenny play-acting.
    "Well, young man, I'd be delighted..."
  • Daddy's Girl: Jenny.
  • Doting Parent: George. He even gets a song about it.
  • Foreshadowing: After two years of service, Alex returns to George's villa to find that George and Rose have struck up a romance in the interim. Rose defends her decision, claiming, "I've been faithful / and I'm happy, / More faithful than he'll ever be. / It's not as if he's marrying me!" By the end of Act 1, he has. And by the first five or ten minutes of Act 2, we find out that George has given up his playboy ways, while Rose is in an on-again off-again fling with Giulietta and has a lover on the side (with George's knowledge and consent).
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: How Rose and Giulietta get over their jealousy of each other.
  • Has a Type: George's first wife Delia was an actress, like Rose, and the two purportedly look very similar. The musical's implications can vary depending on the casting of Hugo, but the novella's Alexis notes with jealousy that twenty-year-old Vincent seems to be an Expy of himself at seventeen; Rose admits that a pattern has formed. (See also Replacement Goldfish under YMMV.)
    • Until the end, Alex seems allergic to women close to him in age, a trait lampshaded by Giulietta.
  • How We Got Here: the Framing Device is of Alex leaving Pau for (presumably) the last time, with the entire rest of the show a 17-year-old flashback.
  • It Runs in the Family: Jenny has her mother's taste for older men. And Alex and George both have the same two women (Rose and Giulietta) at different points.
  • "I Want" Song: "There Is More To Love". Also Giulietta's only major number.
  • Jail Bait Wait: Played straight despite Values Dissonance. Jenny actually has to get through two of them. The first ends on her 15th birthday, which is the age of consent in France; at that point she can seduce Alex if she wants (and if he wants, which he doesn't). The second will end three years after the story does, when she reaches her legal majority at 18 and can marry whoever she wants. By making both thresholds her goal, the show manages to conform to Hollywood Provincialism.
  • Kavorka Man: Alex has all three of the main female characters make a pass at him after George's funeral.
  • Kissing Cousins: Zigzagged. In the novella, Jenny and Alex are Not Blood Siblings, as George married into the family; in the musical, it is Delia who married into the family rather than George, making George, Alex, and Jenny all related by blood.
  • Leitmotif: Runs on this, to a rather greater extent than the rest of Webber's canon. In the end it feels like there's only about 8 major numbers in the whole song, re-used over and over.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Alex and George are both interested in Rose.
    • Gender-flipped example: in separate acts, Rose and Jenny both make a dramatic entrance wearing a dress that belonged to George's dead first wife. The first time, he almost has a heart attack. The second, he does some play-flirting with his daughter.
  • Likes Older Women: When Alex and Rose first meet, he's 17, she 25.
  • Love Dodecahedron: The Musical.
  • May–December Romance: Basically every couple (with the possible exception of Alex and Guilietta) involves this. In ascending order of age gap:
    • Guilietta is likely a few years older than Alex, having a career and having been widowed for at least a short time. If we do assume them to be about the same age, though, then she's in the same boat as him in reference to Rose.
    • Alex is 17 when he first sleeps with Rose, 25.
    • Then there's Jenny, who makes a play for 34-year-old Alex on her 15th birthday.
    • Finally we have George, who is arguably the patron saint of this trope. At the start of the musical, he's 58 and is sleeping with Guillieta, who's in early adulthood. Two years later he marries Rose, then 28. If you run the math, it takes close to a decade of marriage before she stops being less than half his age.
    • Lampshaded by Guillieta, who, upon meeting Alex for the first time, asks "Do you ever dance with women your own age?"
  • Meaningful Funeral: George insists on a giant party with a feast and dancing after he is dead.
  • The Mourning After: George has shied away from long-term entanglements ever since his first wife, Delia, died quite young. Guillieta also lost a husband after a mere five days of wedded bliss.
  • Noodle Incident: The cause of Alex's expulsion from school. Apparently it's mortifying to Alex and hilarious to George and Rose. The book also invokes this, concealing the story from the reader but portraying Rose's reaction to it.
  • Not Afraid to Die: George.
  • Parental Abandonment: In the musical, Alex's are complete non-entities, to the point that we don't even know why they never appear. (All There In The Original Novel: they're dead.)
  • Parental Substitute: George to Alex at the very start, even though the rest of the musical proves his advice to be wrong.
    • Your mileage may vary on this. George advises Alex not to allow love to overcome his common sense. If Alex had listened to him he would not have shot Rose and had to spend years away from his only family, and if he'd not done that he would have probably seen Jenny grow up and not have been attracted to her.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Poor Rose's "Hail Mary" throw with Alex in the finale ("Anything but Lonely"). It doesn't work.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot / Author Appeal: David Garnett (author of the novel) married his male ex-lover's daughter, whose christening he attended.
  • Second Love: Rose and George to each other; also Guilietta and Alex.
  • Show Within a Show: Rose is an actress. After the prologue, the musical begins with her starring in the final scene of Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder, and Act II begins with her in Ivan Turganev's A Month in the Country. The family also attends a circus in act II.
  • Silly Love Songs: The Musical.
  • Sirens Are Mermaids: Jenny invokes this and dismisses Alex's objection as evidence of his ignorance on the subject.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Alex and Guiletta's first encounter commences with a series of merciless barbs at each other. Then they disappear to the hayloft.
  • Soap Opera: The Musical.
  • Sung-Through Musical: Though, as typical for this trope, not totally without dialogue. All of the Shows Within The Show are non-musicals and are presented as such.
  • Take a Third Option: At the end, both Jenny and Rose make a play for Alex. Instead, he departs with Guillieta.
  • Time Skip: Of 12 years, during the Intermission.
  • To Absent Friends
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Jenny's pursuit of Alex.