'Spider-Man' a big mistake for U2 boys, claims Rice
Musical legend offers sympathy after show gets critical mauling
Published 13/03/2011 | 05:00
Tim Rice, one of the legends of musical theatre, has revealed how he thinks rockers U2 shouldn't have branched out into his territory with their currently much-troubled Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark.
And Rice, who shot to fame in the 1970s with co-writer Andrew Lloyd Webber on musical theatre hits such as Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, knows exactly how it feels to be slammed by the critics on Broadway.
His own musical, Chess, which opens here later this month, was a massive flop when it hit Broadway in 1988 and had to be shut down after a very short run.
"I think there's a huge, huge difference between music theatre and rock music, which is maybe the problem with Spider-Man. They're very different genres of music and I honestly don't think you can do both. I'm also very wary of technical problems like they've been having. Things can very easily go wrong when you're relying on a lot of special effects and gimmicks."
The latest news from Broadway is that Spider-Man is no longer being directed by Julie Taymor, that Bono and The Edge are writing new songs for it, and the official opening date has been postponed until early summer. There is also the possibility of it shutting for two-to-three weeks while new songs are worked in and a new director takes over.
Tim added: "I've heard about the hard time they've all been having over there. I worked with Julie Taymor on The Lion King show with Elton John. It's pretty rough when you're being attacked by the critics like that and things are going wrong on you. Yes, I would have a lot of sympathy for the two guys (Bono and The Edge). And for Julie now."
And Tim feels that the new version of Chess, which opens in the Grand Canal Theatre on March 22, is infinitely superior to the one that the powerful New York critics closed down back in 1988. It also has precious little in the way of special effects.
"To be honest, that production wasn't very good. In fact it was terrible! It probably deserved to flop. The West End version was far superior."
After Dublin, Chess is going to Italy, then Canada and then, he hopes, into the West End for a good long run. Tim is also hoping that ABBA stars Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson, who wrote the show with him, will join him in Dublin for opening night.
"They still have an interest in it, after all it led on to their Mamma Mia show." Ironically, it was Julie Taymor who suggested the idea for the show based on their songs to them.
Rice, 67, who has three children, divides his time between homes in London and Cornwall. He is still close to Bjorn and Benny and Elton John, but apparently not so with his original writing partner Andrew Lloyd Webber.
"Did we fall out? No actually, we just decided to take our own separate paths in musical theatre as it were! But we didn't fall out."
He is a very rich man after the massive success all around the world of his numerous musicals, but he refuses to stop working, even though he is now a pensioner. Outside of work, his other interest is cricket, and he's still reeling after Ireland's magnificent defeat of England in the Cricket World Cup in India.
"My current project is a new musical called From Here To Eternity. I'm producing it and writing the lyrics. We already have a great score by a guy called Stewart Brayson. That's taking up a lot of my time at the moment."
Although he doesn't like to brag about it, mild-mannered Rice has a sideboard laden down with awards and statuettes. These include three Oscars, four Tonys, six Grammys and a dozen Ivor Novellos. He also has a knighthood and a star on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.