The Andrew Lloyd Webber Lecture,
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center,
Still boyish at barely 41, he strides to the stage in a dreamy gait cribbed from Pink Floyd. Five hundred pairs of eyes fixate on his lips, which the fans can’t wait to see move. I flew here on the golden breath of a Phantom, he says. Webber waits a split second too long for the laughter to subside, as the audience transfers its attention to a man, perhaps a century old, who has just bumped into a mobile sculpture. With gnarled, bony fingers, the man directs the work of art into an asymmetrical spin. He mouths encouraging words to it, coaxing it into somersaults, the haymakers that stifle speech. This man relies only on pantomime, having lost his voice years earlier when he swallowed too many snowflakes. Meanwhile Webber, not visibly annoyed, begins to applaud. The others follow his lead as the man bows, then exaggeratedly tips his cap toward Webber. Holding up a tightly closed fist, the old man opens his hand to reveal nothing. He nods broadly at the composer before exiting into the muted mile high.