Sir Andrew Lloyd `Idol’

According to “American Idol,” Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is responsible for some of the most “important” musicals of all time.

Wow. That’s pretty big. Step aside, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Back of the bus, Stephen Sondheim. The man who brought us Starlight Express and Catsis assuming the position of importance.

It’s undeniable that Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice helped Broadway take the next post-Hair step toward a more contemporary, rock-influenced sound with Jesus Christ Superstar. But with shows such as Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, Lloyd Webber’s two biggest hits, popular shouldn’t be confused with important.

Lloyd Webber was the “mentor” on Tuesday’s “American Idol” as the remaining six contestants trotted out shiny Lloyd Webber show tunes in the hope of making it to the Top 5.

I know who would make it into my bottom two:

1. Jason Castro (right), whose inability to speak in sentences or use actual words during the brief interview segment makes me think he’s not much brighter than his dreadlocks. Who else but a dim bulb would choose to sing “Memory” from Cats, probably the most popular, most over-sung show tune of the last 25 years? He didn’t have the voice for it, he didn’t make a dramatic connection, and he didn’t make an original arrangement (the way Israel Kamakawiwoʻole did with “Over the Rainbow” and which Castro cribbed in its entirety a few weeks back) that was more suited to his laidback style.

2. Brooke White stopped the orchestra then started again. Oops. Second time she’s done that this season, and it’s one time too many. She sang the Oscar-winning “You Must Love Me” from the movie version of Evita. It was a dramatic attempt (she sure displayed drama hands) but not successful. It’s not a great song by any means. She should have done a tango-infused “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”

The rest of the kids did OK. Sayesha Mercado (above) sizzled with a lousy song — “One Rock ‘n’ Roll Too Many” from Starlight Express (not exactly a font of fantastic tunes). She showed personality and sex appeal, and the judges agreed she’d be great on Broadway. No question. Somebody make some calls.

Carly Smithson got to rock it a little with “Jesus Christ Superstar” and did a screechy good job. David Cook turned “The Music of the Night” from The Phantom of the Opera into something that wasn’t boring. He didn’t rock it out, as he has with other songs in the last few weeks, which was an interesting choice. He also mentioned that he grew up doing musical theater. Makes me like him even more. The last few notes of the song were thrilling.

And little David Archuleta, for me, was the one to beat because he was the only one to make one of ALW’s songs contemporary. Archuleta’s version of “Think of Me” from Phantom came across as something that could be on the radio right now. It actually sounded a lot like what the British boy band Boyzone did with “No Matter What” from Lloyd Webber’s Whistle Down the Wind.

There was a lot of talk about how difficult it would be for the Idols to perform show tunes because show tunes are so complicated, and judge Simon Cowell (left with Sir Andrew) has already shown his disdain for the “Broadway” sound (which he lumps in with the sound of cruise ships, cabaret and theme parks). But Lloyd Webber isn’t complicated. He has melodies, that’s for sure. But wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the Idols would do with the songs of Stephen Sondheim? Or Michael John La Chiusa? Or Jason Robert Brown? Or Ricky Ian Gordon? Or Adam Guettel?

Now that would be a show tune challenge I’d like to see.

Sucked into the `Idol’ maw

I knew there’d be a theater connection eventually so I could write about it here.

A point of pride for me the last seven years or so was that I had never so much as seen an episode of “American Idol.” It was hard not to know every detail of the show, even without watching it, because it is treated as big news by every news outlet imaginable (except maybe Horse & Rider).

But this season, under the influence of a loved one, I got sucked in and I have even — please don’t judge — voted more than once in the past few weeks.

If you don’t know the “Idol” way, they try to liven things up by having “mentors” come in. The first one this season was Dolly Parton, and when the Idols sang her songs, the results were generally better than you might expect. This week was Mariah Carey, and the boys, surprisingly, outshone the girls singing Ms. Carey’s songs.

Next week, the mentor is Andrew Lloyd Webber, which means that the six remaining finalists — David Archuleta, Jason Castro, David Cook, Sayesha Mercado, Carly Smithson and Brooke White (I did that from memory — somebody save me) — will be singing SHOW TUNES! Never mind that they’ll also be dealing with the weirdness that is Sir Andrew. Remember when he “mentored” on the Grease casting/reality show “You’re the One that I Want”? Honestly, I thought maybe he was a high-functioning autistic man. And remember how generally awful the young contestants were singing his songs? And those were show kids trying out for a musical. I’m nervous about these Idol popsters and the show tunes.

But I’m hoping David Cook (my fave at the moment) sings “Gethsemane” from Jesus Christ Superstar.

And may I just be petty and say how very happy I am that Kristy Lee Cook (KLC — The Colonel as they say on Television Without Pity) has moved on?

Here’s a little something from YouTube to tide us (notice how I say us assuming that since I’m watching, everyone is) over until next Tuesday. It’s David Archuleta, a young man from Utah with a beautiful voice, sort of butchering “For Good” from Wicked.