Tim Rice: Voice of a musical generation | Theatre | Entertainment


Yet over recent years, their friendship has been beset by rumours of a rift, which has seen them mainly heading in separate directions with their respective careers. Now Sir Tim has finally set the record straight. And while he insists that the two are still good friends, he reveals there is little chance of them ever writing a musical together again.

“We’ve got a couple of ideas, which might need the odd song, but I don’t see us sitting down to do a massive mega-musical again,” he says. “It would create a certain amount of interest, but I don’t think it’s wise to do it just for the sake of it. And it’s five or ten years of your life. Well, add ten years to my life and I probably won’t be around.

“We’re in touch – we went to see the panto at the London Palladium recently – and we did a couple of songs for The Wizard Of Oz which is on tour and we may do another song for it before it comes to the Palladium next year.

“But Andrew is very busy doing Cinderella on Broadway, and I’ve got quite enough on my plate as it is. There’s talk of a Joseph movie and Aida, which I did with Elton John on Broadway, will hopefully come to London at the end of the year.”

More imminent though is Tim’s new show Circle Of Words – a play on the hit single Circle Of Life from Disney’s The Lion King that he wrote with Sir Elton John.

The show features Tim himself, alongside The Duncan Waugh Band & Singers.

“They perform some of the songs that I’ve written over the years and I introduce each number and tell the story behind it,” Tim explains.

“How it happened, a little bit about the person I wrote it with and everything that enabled that song to be a hit, or not. I also reveal the original lyrics of some of them.”

With the tour starting early next month, Tim is hoping he will be fit in time, having had his right hip replaced just a week ago.

“I did say to them, are you sure this is fine so close to the start, but you’ve got to grab the dates when you can and it was getting quite uncomfortable,” he explains.

“I’ll go on stage with a stick if I have to – the show must go on!”

Now 78, Tim has enjoyed an illustrious career. Knighted for his services to music in 1994, he has won countless awards and collaborated with a host of top musicians, from Abba’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus to Elton John and Alan Menken.

But it is his partnership with Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber for which he admits he will always be best remembered.

After teaming up in the late 1960s they went on to write three successful hit musicals, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita.

However, the working relationship didn’t always run smoothly.

“We had a few ups and downs,” Tim concedes. “We were working on a show called Jeeves, which was meant to be the follow-up to Jesus Christ Superstar.

“But after a few months, I felt it wasn’t good enough. We didn’t actually have a row, although Andrew was probably a bit miffed that I wanted to abandon Jeeves and I was a bit miffed that he didn’t immediately want to go and do Evita, which I thought was a better idea.”

Following Evita, the duo finally did go their separate ways. While Andrew went off to create Cats and Phantom Of The Opera, Tim began work on Chess. “Cats didn’t need a lyricist – it was TS Eliot’s poems set to Andrew’s music, and then he got into Phantom, by which time I was working on other ideas with other people,” Tim explains.

“There was no, ‘That’s it, we’re not working together again’. We just drifted apart. Away from work Tim is devoted to his seven grandchildren – the offspring of his children Eva and Donald from his marriage to Jane McIntosh.

The marriage unravelled in the 1980s when Tim’s affair with Elaine Paige – Evita’s leading lady – became public knowledge.

He also has a 23-year-old daughter, Zoe, from his relationship with artist Nell Sully and another daughter, Charlotte, seven, from a brief affair with playwright and art historian Laura-Jane Foley.

The grandchildren, he proudly explains, have all inherited his passion for music and frequently get together as a band to entertain the family, sometimes even performing their grandfather’s tunes. But he admits with a wry smile, that despite his worldwide fame, none of them are what you might call starstruck.

“Luckily, they like most of the things I’ve done – I’ve never had any grandchild come up to me and say something wasn’t any good. But while they’re not unimpressed, they’re not impressed either!”

  • For information and tickets for An Evening With Tim Rice: Circle Of Words With The Duncan Waugh Band & West End Singers, visit nlp-ltd.com/tim-rice



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