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Lloyd Webber's Phantom set for school stages here

TWO of Andrew Lloyd Webber's most famous musicals -- Phantom Of The Opera and Cats -- are being made available for Irish school and college productions for the first time.

Lloyd Webber's licensing group, the Really Useful Group, said it had had a number of queries from Irish secondary schools so far.

The announcement comes as Phantom Of The Opera approaches its 25th anniversary, and David Robinson, licensing manager at the Really Useful Group, said school children would get the opportunity to produce the big shows.

"Phantom and Cats are big-budget shows with big costs, so it's a big show to do. We're quite encouraged by the response we've got so far.

"We've had five or six queries so far from Ireland for Cats and Phantom Of The Opera and we're encouraged by that, in the context of how difficult these shows are.

"Obviously these are big shows and wouldn't be suitable for primary schools so there's a limited market for this. And not every school has a large orchestra to hand that can cope with these."

Lloyd Webber, above, has said he is "delighted" that young performers will be able to tackle the works, which date back to the Eighties, for the first time.

The versions for Irish schools will be identical to previous professional productions, and will give children a chance at creating the scenery as well as performing in the show.

Mr Robinson explained: "With Joseph And The Technicolour Dreamcoat, we do a lot more licences. It's a far easier show to do, you can do it with only a piano. We get a lot more queries for the easier ones."

hnews@herald.ie