Podcast Episode 19 Transcript – Tim Rice

Ken: You’re listening to the Producer’s Perspective Podcast. This week, the show is sponsored by Hand to God, the most Tony-nominated new American play on Broadway. The New York Times calls Hand to God “Flat out hilarious” and “A true tour de force” and The Huffington Post raves “It’s the best play of the season.” For tickets, visit Telecharge.com. And now, on with the podcast.

Ken: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the Producer’s Perspective Podcast. I am Ken Davenport and boy, oh boy, do I have a good one for you today. Usually I record my podcasts with my guests sitting just a few feet away from me, but I am recording this podcast via Skype because my guest is thousands of miles away from me, across an ocean in jolly old England, and that guest is none other than the Academy Award-winning, Golden Globe Award-winning, Tony Award-winning and Grammy Award-winning lyricist, Sir Tim Rice. Welcome, Tim!

Tim: Thank you, Ken.

Ken: Usually, at this point in the podcast, I’d list some of the shows that my guest has been associated with, but in Tim’s case I thought it would be fun to just list some of the lyrics that he has written. Like, oh, I don’t know . . . “Don’t cry for me, Argentina” . . . “What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s happening” . . . “I can show you the world.” I mean these are some of the most iconic and identifiable lyrics in the canon of musical theater history. We’re talking shows like Joseph, Evita, Chess, all of the Disney stuff, Aladdin, Lion King, etc. Tim has got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, he’s in the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and, yes, you heard me correctly. He is Sir Timothy Rice because he was knighted by Helen Mirren. Okay, he was actually knighted by Queen Elizabeth II but you get The Audience joke. So, Tim, as a young lad, did you dream about being a lyricist? How did this all happen?

Tim: I don’t think I ever thought about writing songs as a career until I was doing it. It came about by accident. I was trying to sell a tape of myself singing in a desperate attempt to become a pop singer in the swinging ’60s. And nobody liked the voice but, in order to sell my obviously not very good voice, I wrote one or two songs, tunes as well as words, and, to my amazement, one record company liked one of the songs and they recorded it with one of their groups. It wasn’t a hit but it made me think, “Maybe I should stick to songwriting, rather than trying to be a singer.” And then, through doing that, through writing pop songs, I met Andrew Lloyd Webber, who was doing a similar sort of thing but he was trying to write for the theater. He was 17, I was 20 I think, 19 or 20, and we were two struggling songwriters, each needing the other half, because I was better at the words and he was better at the music.

Ken: What was the first thing you wrote together?

Tim: It was a musical based on the life of Doctor Thomas Barnardo, who was a Victorian philanthropist, very well known in England, setting up the Barnardo’s Homes. He may well be known in America as well, I’m not sure, but he was a do-gooder in Victorian times and set up this huge empire. I mean it’s an empire now. But he founded Dr. Barnardo’s Homes for orphaned children, which was a good thing to do. And we wrote this musical based on his life and it was really very influenced by Oliver!, the great Lionel Bart musical, and it was set in London in the nineteenth century and it had the aristocrats and the street urchins and the prostitutes with hearts of gold and everything. It was a bit too like Oliver! But it was the first thing we had a go at and it taught us we could write together, even though it also taught us we shouldn’t copy quite so blatantly.

Ken: Do you remember the first lyric that you wrote?

Tim: Yeah.

Ken: What was it?

Tim: The first lyric I wrote for one of my pop songs, I can remember that, but that’s perhaps not very interesting. But the first lyric I wrote with Andrew was a song in The Likes of Us sung by an auctioneer. The auctioneer’s lot number one was a parrot, and the first two lines I wrote to any tune of Andrew’s was by this auctioneer, who’s a very minor character in the show, and he sings, “Here I have a lovely parrot, sound in wind and limb. I can guarantee that there is nothing wrong with him.” The funny lyrics I found easier. I’m not saying, necessarily, that was a breakthrough in musical theater, but that particular song, called “Going, Going, Gone,” was actually quite funny. But some of the ballads, some of the love songs, I wasn’t so hot on at that time.

Ken: Tell me about the first big success you had, or the moment when you and Andrew were like, “Oh, we’re onto something here.”

Tim: It was strange because we had an agent and we were working on this musical with Barnardo and we really thought it was good enough to make it onto the stage. And certainly one or two things that are worse have made it into the stage, but it really wasn’t all that good and I think, if it had got on, it would have been a bit of a disaster and perhaps might have set us back. As it was, it didn’t get on. We had made a demo disc of it and the great benefit that Dr. Barnardo gave us was that a few friends heard this demo disc. And the reason we got going was that one of friends was a schoolmaster and he said, “While you’re waiting for your Dr. Barnardo musical to go to Broadway and West End and all that, which obviously it will any minute, while you’re waiting would you like to write something for my kids’ end of term school concert?” And he asked us to write something for his children. It was to be performed once in front of parents and the only carrot, the only lure we had, the only incentive, really, apart from the fun of doing something, was that it might appeal to educational music publishers and it could become something that schools would do. And the piece we wrote was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. And we did it at the school concert and it was a huge success and it was done again because it was so popular with the kids, and we realized that perhaps we’d done something slightly original, as opposed to the attempts to copy Lionel Bart, and it took some time to get professionals interested in it but we had a very good review, by sheer luck, in a major London newspaper because what we didn’t know was that one of the little boys in the choir . . . his father was the music critic of The Sunday Times and he reviewed . . . without being asked to, we didn’t even know he was there . . . one of the school concerts we did and said, “This is absolutely wonderful,” and, “Watch out for these two guys.” And as a result of that we got ourselves a proper manager who backed us financially and then we sat down with three years, in effect, to make it, because we had three years guaranteed pay from our agent/manager, David Land, and the first thing we did was Jesus Christ Superstar.

Ken: It’s amazing! I hear so many people struggling so much to get critics to see their shows and here you didn’t even know he was there and he helped launch your career. I love it.

Tim: We didn’t even try to get any critics because it was a school concert. What we tried to do was to get educational music publishers along to see Joseph, and they didn’t turn up. But as soon as they saw the review in The Sunday Times they were ringing us saying, “Can we hear this piece? We’d like to publish it.” So we were very lucky. Even if we’d asked the critic of The Sunday Times and other music critics, I doubt they would have come along to a school concert.

Ken: And that first musical you wrote. Did anything ever happen to it or did you both put it on a shelf?

Tim: Some of the tunes found their way into other shows. Looking back on it, I think the tunes were stronger than the music but even the tunes, Andrew would admit this, were a bit derivative in style. Not melodically, but in style they were very much a mishmash of Richard Rodgers and Lionel Bart, which is a pretty good mishmash to have. We did it for the first time at a small festival Andrew gave at his home in 2005, which was 40 years after it was written, and the British actor Stephen Fry acted as a narrator and I was in it. I was the auctioneer singing about parrots. We had a good West End cast. We did it as a bit tongue-in-cheek, and the audience loved it. It’s now available . . . you can get it on an album, it came out as a double CD . . . and it’s got a funny running commentary/narration in which half of the narration is about how the show was never quite finished and the other half is the actual plot of the show, so it’s an entertaining album. I would warmly recommend it. It’s called The Likes of Us and you could probably dig it up on Amazon. It has been done in a few schools since, one or two schools have done it, and I’ve been to see the odd production in a school and actually it works, it’s quite fun.

Ken: I smell a revival coming soon.

Tim: I don’t think it’s good enough to go to the West End. I thought that in 1966 but I don’t think it now.

Ken: Tell me about your process for writing lyrics. We hear all these things, some people are music first . . . lyrics first . . . what’s your process? “Oh, I have to write a song for,” I don’t know, “Mary Magdalene at this moment in her life.” What’s the first step for you?

Tim: Well the first step is to get the story right. The story is the key to any musical. I believe that very strongly. It’s even more important than the score. Really, with both Joseph and Superstar, we chose very good stories, which we didn’t write. We had to reconstruct them, but they were both wonderful stories, and therefore you had to get the detail of the scene as well. You’ve got to make sure that you know what the character has to say before you start writing a word and even before you start writing a note of the music. So the modus operandi for most of the shows I’ve worked on has been get the story right, get the scene right, know who’s in the scene and what they have to say. Then the composer does a tune knowing what the tune has to convey and then I write the lyrics to the tune. That’s more or less the way that’s always gone, except with Elton who famously likes the lyrics first. But, again, with The Lion King, which was the first time I worked on a major thing with Elton, the key thing was to get the story correct, and that took a long time because it was a new story and I was working on the story with the script writers, and I would then submit lyrics to Elton and then a tune would come back. But always the story has to be the key.

Ken: So most of the time you’re actually last? Lyrics are last?

Tim: Yes. So, for a while, I was the only person in the world who had heard “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina.” Briefly, but I took it to Andrew, he was the second person to hear it. But of course with Elton, if I send Elton the lyric, he’s the first person to hear the finished song and then he sends me a CD or an MP3 or whatever. In those days it was probably a cassette.

Ken: Let’s back up a little bit because there’s an interesting moment there . . . you said you were the first person, the only person in the world to ever hear “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” because you’re last. So the story comes, the tune comes, you write the lyrics “don’t cry for me, Argentina,” you sit down and you sing it, I assume?

Tim: Well I sing it to myself. Obviously that’s quite a difficult song to sing and also I’m the wrong sex for it, although quite a few blokes have had a go at it. The point is it’s just an interesting thought that, whenever I’ve written the lyrics to a tune, briefly I’m the only person in the world who’s heard the finished song. A lot of the finished songs aren’t very good and often I’m the only person who hears the finished song. But with something like “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” or “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” or “A Whole New World” I was, very briefly, the only person who heard the finished song, so that’s quite exciting, I suppose.

Ken: Do you know when you’ve hit it out of the park like that?

Tim: Not really. I think you know when something works, artistically, but whether or not it will work commercially is in the land of the gods. We never, for one minute, thought that “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina” would be a hit song outside the concept of the show. It was written as a scene in the show . . . it was not written as a single . . . and I think if we had tried to write a hit single for that scene it wouldn’t have been half as good. But we wrote a song which was really a political statement and, furthermore, an insincere political statement. It was almost meant to be a string of clichés put together with a beautiful tune. It’s rather like politicians, they try to make what they say sound fantastic but actually, if you analyze what they’re saying, it’s bollocks, usually.

Ken: Fascinating. I often say that the success of a writer is not only the writing itself but also choosing what projects to write. Early on in your career, how did you pick the shows? What was your process for this show versus this one or these ideas?

Tim: The idea is very, very important, obviously. When I met Andrew he was already beginning work on the Barnardo story so that was one I bought into quite happily, although in retrospect I don’t think it was a particularly good idea because it didn’t immediately have a brand image, as we say these days, and I think a show has much, much more chance of success if people know something about it before. Whether it’s based on a film, whether it’s based on a hit record, whether it’s about a famous person. So, to that extent, the story of Joseph and the story of Jesus were pretty good choices, they were great stories. Why we chose them, I don’t know. With Joseph, we were commissioned by a schoolmaster and we decided to go for something that would have appeal that wouldn’t date, that maybe other schools would do eventually, and that led us to history or the Bible and that was my favorite Bible story as a kid. And Superstar, I was always fascinated by the character of Judas Iscariot and originally the piece was really meant to be more about Judas than Jesus but in fact it’s about Jesus but seen through the eyes of Judas. Eva Peron, I just heard her life story, or a little bit of it, on a radio program. I didn’t really know very much about her but I thought, “Wow, this is a very interesting character.” I had heard about her, I knew she was Argentine, I knew she was dead, but I didn’t know much more and it was the fact that I was so intrigued by this radio program about somebody I didn’t know much about. I thought, “Well maybe this is a good idea for a show,” and it turned out to be. The Disney ideas, as a whole, were there, I mean that was part of Disney so it was their choices, but I’m happy to be a hired hand occasionally.

Ken: Tell me about that difference. Obviously you worked for lots of independent producers at the beginning of your career but then you started working for giant corporate behemoths like Disney. What’s the difference?

Tim: Well there’s an enormous difference in the fact that if it’s your baby from the start, like if you came up with the idea and if you can keep control of it before you bring in too many producers and directors and all of that, then you have much more control, as we did with Superstar and Joseph and Evita in particular. Because it was our baby, each of them we were working on, and nobody was that interested in telling us how to do it because nobody thought they were hits. And one of the best ways to avoid interference is to be unsuccessful, or at least to be waiting for success. Once you become successful . . . and this is weird, it’s a paradox that I’m often baffled by . . . but the longer I go on in my career . . . and I’ve done alright, I’ve had quite a few successes . . . the more people tell me how to do my job. When you’re working with a big company like Disney and it’s their bat and ball, frankly you have to go along with it. But in the end you can usually prevail. I remember “Can You Feel the Love Tonight,” I had so many people trying to rewrite that one. And in the film of Evita there were people trying to change things all the time and you just say, “Well hang on, it’s worked so far. Why do you need to alter it?” You’ve got to have a bit of confidence and occasionally fight changes but sometimes people are right; you have to admit the ghastly possibility that you might not be the only person who’s right. But it’s much more satisfying, I think, in a way, to run your own shooting match, but of course you haven’t got that protective shield or that sort of financial cushion if things go wrong if you’re bearing the brunt of it yourself.

Ken: The more successful you get the more people tell you how to do your job. I love that.

Tim: Absolutely, that’s so true. See, the thing is, people don’t think you’ll be successful. I think even after Superstar people thought we were one hit wonders, or two hit wonders if you counted Joseph, which was coming up on the rails at that point. So when we said we were doing a thing on Eva Peron nobody said, “Right, guys, here’s a theater, let’s get going,” they just let us get on with it. We did the album in England, of the entire piece, with this great orchestra and singers and everything, and we did what we wanted. We didn’t have to worry about a director or a producer or anything. When the album was a big hit in England, and “Argentina” was a big hit song, then we got other people on board, but it was difficult for them to make too many changes because the record had been so successful without them. I mean there were some changes made for the stage show of Evita, and I think correctly, just one or two songs were changed. But Superstar was unchanged from the original album. But everything else I’ve done, to a great extent, has been mucked around with by others, and sometimes profitably.

Ken: One of the things I love about looking at all of the shows that you’ve done is that you’ve worked with such a variety of composers, from Andrew Lloyd Webber to Alan Menken to Benny and Björn to Elton John.

Tim: Well I’ve been very lucky.

Ken: Which one’s your favorite? Tell us, tell us now!

Tim: Well I have a soft spot for the guy who wrote the tune for my very first song . . . me! They’re all great, they’re all different. You can only work with people that you admire. It would be tough for me to say that you automatically like everything they do, and they won’t like everything you do, but you’ve got to work with somebody who you think is pretty good at their job or else it ain’t going to happen. But I shall leave a letter to be opened 50 years after my death, so you might just be around, and I will say, “Actually the one I liked working with best of all, the one with the greatest talent was . . . da-dum!”

Ken: Are there young composers and lyricists that you admire today? Are there people that you look at and go, “Boy, that’s something”?

Tim: Well I’ve always had a lot of heroes but, as with most people, my heroes tend to be older than myself. There are not that many people who are older than myself around these days, but the people I admired, who obviously started out in the serious musical theater field, are the obvious ones like Alan Jay Lerner, Lerner and Loewe, Rogers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, all this lot, and Sammy Cahn. And in the pop world people like Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Chuck Berry, great lyricists, Bob Dylan of course. But your question was probably more interesting. Who do I like coming up now? I’m not sure. It sounds sort of ungracious of me. You do get some very interesting shows but there haven’t been all that many hit songs from some of the shows lately, even if the show is great. There are some shows that I really want to see that have just opened on Broadway which I’m going to see in the next couple of months or so, and there have been wonderful shows I’ve enjoyed enormously like Book of Mormon or The Producers, very funny shows. They’re brilliant evenings out, great comedies, and they are, of course, good musicals, but they’re not musicals in the sense of the stuff that Andrew and I wrote, I think. They may be better, for all I can say, but it’s difficult. I’m from a tradition where the score often has to play an integral part.

Ken: Do you have a favorite lyric of your own?

Tim: It’s difficult. I’ve certainly got quite a few I wish I hadn’t written.

Ken: What’s your least favorite, then? Let’s start with that.

Tim: Well there are pretty terrible lyrics in Superstar. There’s this one quite funny one where one of the lepers sings, “See my tongue, I can hardly talk,” which, logically, if you think about it, should be, “Shh mhh tong, cn hdly tlk,” and that line usually went to somebody who only had that one line in the show, so he or she would really belt that line beautifully, like Placido Domingo at his peak, and I think that’s not really logical, is it? “See my tongue, I can hardly talk!” Well, actually you’re talking rather well, what’s your problem? So that’s a pretty bad line and I think we changed it to, “See his tongue, he can hardly talk,” so it was some bloke talking about his mate. There are one or two bad rhymes that I wouldn’t do now in Joseph and Superstar, rhyming “time” with “mind” or even inHeaven on Their Minds,” one of my favorite songs, it’s, “all your followers are blind, too much heaven on their minds,” that’s not really good. But in rock music . . . and Superstar is rock, people forget that, if you listen to the original album it’s definitely a rock album . . . accurate rhyming isn’t always essential but I think in musical theater it is, so some of those early rhymes I’m a little bit nervous about. I was asked this question, about my favorite lyric, the other day on the radio in England and I came up with one of the ones I like which is Scar in The Lion King. His song isn’t remembered as well as some of the others but he has a great couplet I always like, “A shining new era is tiptoeing nearer.” I always liked that.

Ken: I agree, that’s a good one. If I was very quiet there, listeners, it was because I was suppressing my laughter.

Tim: I was very serious.

Ken: That is a fantastic comment on your least favorite lyric. I was telling someone that I was doing this podcast with you and they said, “Ask him about Chess! Because I think I’ve got an idea on how it can work.” Chess is one of those great musicals that’s admired by so many, including me, but some reason has never quite achieved commercial success. Why do you think that is? Can it work?

Tim: It’s a complicated story and the perceived wisdom is that the story is no good and the songs are great. I would say this, wouldn’t I? But I think the story, actually, is complex, but one of the problems is that, with a lot of the wonderful music that Benny Andersson came up with, orchestrally and chorally, it’s very hard to hear the words because you’ve got choirs singing. You’ve often got a lot of key plot things sung by big choirs. There’s a wonderful sequence where all the great chess champions of all time have their names and dates called out and it sounds beautiful but nobody really knows what’s happening. And the opening song, “Merano,” and another key song, “The Story of Chess,” it’s terribly hard to make out what they’re saying. And I’ve always said the way to make Chess work on stage is to have subtitles or surtitles like they do in opera. I think that would make a lot of difference and I think that would work for a lot of shows. I often go to the theater and see a musical and I think, “Great, but I can’t quite make out all the words,” and it’s easy to assume because you know the words, as you wrote them, if it’s one of my own shows, it’s very easy to assume everybody can hear every lyric clearly. But they can’t. It’s very hard to catch all of the lyrics first time around unless it’s a very clearly sung solo number. Having said that, I agree that the story of Chess, the plot, needs to me make crystal clear, but I think a lot of that would be cleared up by having the lyrics crystal clear. I mean your friend is welcome to have a go!

Ken: He’d love to do it. I’d love to do it. I remember going to Lincoln Center to watch the original on video there and just saying, “God, there’s got to be a way, there’s got to be a way!”

Tim: It has been successful in some places. It was quite successful in London. The first time out, it ran for three years and it would have run for longer if we hadn’t, unfortunately, had to spend a lot more money on it than we intended because we had to change directors halfway through, so we were kind of paying for two shows for the price of one. No, hang on, one show for the price of two, which is not the way to go.

Ken: Speaking of the West End and Broadway, what do you see as the big differences between the two?

Tim: Well I think the big difference, really, for me, is the audience. In England we’re much more laid back and we don’t leap up and down and cheer as much as they do on Broadway. Sometimes I think Broadway audiences are almost too enthusiastic. The chap selling the programs gets a standing ovation sometimes, but in England I think we’re often too quiet and audiences are a little wary of revealing what they think. So I think somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic there’s the ideal audience, who are neither too extravagant nor too quiet. So that, I think, is the main difference. I would have said, 15 or 20 years ago, that London dancers weren’t quite up to the standard of Broadway dancers. And the concept of somebody who, in musicals, could sing, dance and act, that was rarer in England when Andrew and I started out, but it’s not true now. There are some wonderful performers in England who, I think, can match the wonderful performers on Broadway.

Ken: What would you say to a young 20 year old who was interested in writing pop songs or musical theater songs now? What advice do you have for the young writers of today?

Tim: Well I don’t know too much about the current pop scene. I try to vaguely keep tabs on it but it seems to me that pop songs these days, a lot of them, are constructed rather than written, so you get nine people taking credit for a song which seems, to me, ludicrous, really. I wouldn’t know how to advise people. I think it’s either something you can do or you can’t, as far as the theater is concerned. A good tune is hard to beat. You asked me earlier about promising young composers. Well, of course, the one I should have mentioned is the man I’ve been working with on my most recent show, Stuart Brayson, who I think has a great gift for music and a great gift for melody, and I’m hopeful that From Here to Eternity will make its mark in America, and indeed again in Britain. It didn’t quite make it first time in London, but I think we made one or two mistakes which were certainly not in the music. The music is very strong and powerful. But as to how to give advice to people, I don’t know. If you’re writing, the key thing, I would say, is get a great story, get an original plotline and get a story that maybe means something to people, not necessarily just taking a recent hit movie or something, but taking a story that people can relate to almost before they’ve seen the show. That’s a help.

Ken: My next question was to ask you about From Here to Eternity and what you are working on next, so tell us a little bit more about the next steps for that piece.

Tim: Well I’m also, at the moment, working on some songs with Alan Menken for the new live action version of Beauty and the Beast, which is a return to working with my chums at Disney, which is fine, I’m enjoying that very much. But From Here to Eternity was a musical I wrote with Stuart Brayson, book by Bill Oakes, and we put it on in London and it ran for six months which was, frankly, not as good as we’d hoped. There were some great things in it, not least Stuart’s music, and a great story, James Jones’ wonderful book, From Here to Eternity, which became a film with Frank Sinatra and Burt Lancaster, but a long time ago. 1953, the movie. Everybody said to us at the time, particularly Americans who came to see the show said, “Why haven’t you done this in America?” and, in a way, that would have been the logical place to have opened it, because it’s an American story about GIs in Hawaii just before Pearl Harbor was attacked. But we were all Brits and we felt that if we went over to America and tried to do it there, apart from the logistical problems, it’s going to be so easy, unless we are absolutely perfect, for people to say, “Why are these Brits doing this American story?” And I think what we should have done . . . in effect the London production has been the most expensive workshop of all time, so I hope we will get what was wrong with it right for New York, and indeed for America. We’ve had offers already, firm offers, to tour it, to put it on both here in England and in America, so I think it’s good enough to work and it would be a great show if we could just get the other bits right and I wish, really, strongly, that we’d opened it out of town in England, that we’d worked out or found out what was wrong with it, but not in the West End. It’s very hard to change things once you open a show on Broadway or on the West End and you’re in the full glare and you’ve got to put it on every night, you’ve got huge costs, you’ve got a cast that you, quite rightly, shouldn’t muck around with too much, you shouldn’t make too many changes for their sake. Once you’ve opened in the spotlight it’s very hard to change and I very much wish that we’d done something with From Here to Eternity out of town. I think if we’d opened it in America straight away and not quite got it right, that would have finished the show. I don’t think it could have come back to England. But I’m genuinely very confident about it and we’re doing a reading workshop in New York very soon, in June, and I hope from that we’ll get some interest, which we’ve had, some interest from producers, performers, the team we need, so I’m taking it step by step.

Ken: Okay, the last question for you today, which is very fitting because I’ve been calling this, with other people, the genie question, and of course you wrote lyrics to this show. I want you to imagine that the genie from Aladdin comes down and says, “Tim, you’ve written some amazing things and your contributions to the world of musical theater and motion pictures have been amazing. Therefore I’m going to grant you one wish and you can change anything you want about Broadway, the West End, theater writing in general. With the snap of a finger I will change whatever you want. Whatever keeps you up at night or drives you crazy.” What would be that one thing you want your genie to change?

Tim: Well it may sound trivial but I think I would like to have programs in London free like they are on Broadway. The programs in British theater, particularly for musicals, are an absolute rip-off. You usually can’t get a program unless you fork out £10-15 for a glossy souvenir program. Not many people really want a glossy souvenir program unless it’s been a fantastic evening. Next time I do a show in the West End, if there is a next time, I will make sure that programs are free Playbill-type program is included, because it’s such a great relief in New York. Alright, the theater seats are not cheap, but you walk into a theater and you get given a program. You haven’t got to fork out, try to find your dollar bills, you haven’t got to find loose change, and that really makes a big difference to your evening. While I’m at it, actually, the other thing which I loathe on Broadway . . . it hasn’t yet affected London . . . but those hideous cups that you now drink from. I would rather ban drinking. I don’t think people should drink during a show, but if they are going to they should be allowed to take in a civilized champagne glass, alright, made of plastic, but you’ve got these things and it’s like Fort Knox trying to get into them. I’m sure they are incredibly unhygienic and they are hideous things to drink out of and sipping wine through one of those things is a revolting experience, so London should avoid that from New York and should be inspired by New York’s free programs. That’s what my genie would do.

Ken: Free programs and no more sippy cups, says Sir Timothy Rice. Thank you so, so much for being with us today. You know, Tim has actually written an autobiography which I’m going to include a link to so that you can learn much more about his incredibly long and incredibly valuable career. Thank you again, so much, and for all you listeners out there, thank you for tuning in.

Tim: Thank you, Ken. A pleasure.

Ken: You’ve been listening to the Producer’s Perspective Podcast, hosted by me, Ken Davenport, with special guest Tim Rice. This episode was sponsored by Tony-nominated play Hand to God. New York Magazine says “Hand to God is irresistible, intelligent and heartbreaking. It’s Broadway’s unlikeliest new must-see play.” Get tickets to Hand to God at Telecharge.com.

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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.