It's an old problem for people in the entertainment industry who've had a smashing success: where do you go from up?
Tim Rice was contemplating that notion in the early 1970s, having written the lyrics for “Jesus Christ Superstar,” a musical that came out of nowhere. Not a single theatrical producer in England was interested in the show until sales of the album exploded and became a worldwide hit. “Tough act to follow,” Rice says modestly. “And everybody assumed, including me, that we were one-hit wonders.”
What followed for Rice was a string of musicals that generated billions of dollars. “Evita.” “Beauty and the Beast.” “Aladdin.” “The Lion King.” If you have ever belted out your own version of “Circle of Life” or “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” you're singing lyrics he wrote.
Now in his early seventies, Rice is looking for another hit, a musical version of the novel “From Here To Eternity.” It premiered in London, was performed last summer in upstate New York and just finished a run at Ogunquit Playhouse. Rice flew over from England to see the production, and even though he's a lyricist, he says the lyrics are by no means the heart of a musical. “The key thing, I think, is to get the story right. That's more important than anything else.”
What Rice had heard about the production in Maine left him encouraged. “I feel that we are moving upwards all the time in the right direction,” he says. “I'm hopeful that in two, five, ten years time it will be recognized on Broadway or London.” Better yet, on both.