Lloyd Webber was introduced to Aspects of Love in 1979, when he and Tim Rice were approached to write a few songs for a proposed film version. When nothing came of it, he suggested to Trevor Nunn that they collaborate on a stage adaptation. In 1983, they presented a cabaret of numbers they had written, but it was not until five years later that they tackled the project in earnest. For the finished project, Lloyd Webber used at least five of the tunes he had written for the 1986 one-act musical Cricket, which he had written with Tim Rice.
Extrait du programme de "Aspects of love": My first encounter with David Garnett’s Aspects of Love was in 1979. Tim Rice had been sent the book as a film was being planned to which we were possibly to contribute songs. Some time later, we felt it was an interesting subject for us to write, particularly as it was so different from Evita and I had just finished Tell Me On A Sunday, which was not so very far in scale from how I imagined Aspects. But a splendid and somewhat indulgent few days at Eugenie-les-Bains, chosen because we argued it was vaguely near Pau, bore little fruit.
During the course of Cats rehearsals, I gave the book to Trevor Nunn, who was delighted with it. In 1983, we presented a “cabaret” of some songs we wrote together for a possible full-length musical. But these songs did not work either. I often feel that I was trying to impose a big, grandiose, romantic style onto the novel and in fact a fair amount of the music of the cabaret became The Phantom of the Opera.
It was a little before the completion of Phantom that I realised that I wanted to change direction sharply in my next work. Thus I returned to the Garnett novel and in the company of Don Black, who I had worked with on Tell Me On A Sunday, and Charles Hart, with whom I was completing Phantom, we decided to try once more.
Of the 1979 version, nothing survives in this score as nothing much was written anyway. Of the 1983 version, the most substantial melody to survive is the Pyrenees folk song. Two others also survive: George’s section about Rose in the Venice sequence and also in that sequence a motif I used as a television theme tune when I thought in 1984 Aspects was a subject I would not return to.
All of the principal melodies and the great body of the work were written, therefore, during the course of my collaboration with Don and Charlie.
To offer the work to Trevor Nunn to direct was obvious, since his interest in the book has been every bit as great as mine for almost as long. Indeed, in 1983 he took over the rights to develop the novel as a film. It is, perhaps, worth recording that Aspects very nearly did become the first musical of mine that was made as a film without a theatrical presentation, but Trevor Nunn convinced me otherwise and thus we are enjoying our first collaboration together about human beings.
The West End production, directed by Trevor Nunn and choreographed by Gillian Lynne, opened on April 17, 1989 at the Prince of Wales Theatre, where it ran for 1,325 performances. The original cast included Kevin Colson, Ann Crumb, Michael Ball, Kathleen Rowe McAllen and Diana Morrison. Sarah Brightman, Barrie Ingham, and Michael Praed were among the replacements later in the run. Roger Moore was due to star in the production but dropped out.
The Broadway production, with the same creative team and many of the original London cast, opened on April 8, 1990 at the Broadhurst Theatre and closed on March 2, 1991 after 377 performances and 22 previews. Brightman and John Cullum joined the cast later in the run. The reviews were lackluster and New York Times critic Frank Rich wrote in a negative review "Whether Aspects of Love is a musical for people is another matter." When the musical closed, the entire $8 million investment was lost, which, according to the New York Times, made it "perhaps the greatest flop in Broadway history."
In 1991, a "chamber" version of the show with Keith Michell was mounted in Canada. It subsequently toured in America and a similar production was staged in Australia. Aspects of Love was produced in Japan, the Philippines, Hungary, Finland, and Denmark as well.
A new UK tour began on 31 August 2007, the first production in 15 years. Starring David Essex as George Dillingham, the production was directed by Nikolai Foster, and musically directed by Andrew J.Smith. The tour opened at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle upon Tyne, and toured for 36 weeks through 8 December 2007.
Following the UK tour, the musical played a limited engagement at The Joburg Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa from May 22 to June 28, 2009. The touring production was re-directed by Nikolai Foster and starred Samantha Peo, Robert Finlayson, Angela Kilian and Keith Smith.
A London revival will run at the Menier Chocolate Factory from July 15 to September 11, 2010, directed by Trevor Nunn.