Lloyd Webber, Rice lose their touch in London as musicals close early

Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:04pm EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - Two of the biggest names in British musicals, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, will close their latest shows early at the end of March, in a blow to the former partners' efforts to succeed separately in London's West End.

Lyricist Rice and composer Lloyd Webber, who collaborated on such hits as "Evita", "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat", have suffered mixed reviews for their latest productions.

Lloyd Webber's "Stephen Ward", which takes its name from an osteopath who was a central figure in the Profumo sex scandal in Britain in the 1960s, has been playing to half-full houses for the last month according to some reports.

It will close on March 29 after a run of just four months, a statement released by its producer said on Wednesday. On the same day, Rice's "From Here to Eternity", based on the 1951 James Jones novel about life at a Hawaiian army base in the run-up to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941, will also shut, after five months.

"I think the West End is giving a very clear message, a rather vulgar, cynical sort of money-grubbing message, to Tim Rice and to Lloyd Webber that it's time these two singles got together again," Sunday Telegraph theatre critic Tim Walker told Reuters.

"They've both fallen foul of the Ides of March and it is really theatreland I think saying, 'Look, you're perfect as a pair, you work well as a couple but we're not that bothered about you in a lot of your single ventures'".

Since their early success the two have mostly gone their separate ways. They did collaborate on a production of "The Wizard of Oz" in 2011, but Rice later said their collaboration was over.

He has had separate West End success with productions such as "Chess" and "The Lion King", while Lloyd Webber scored a hit with "The Phantom of the Opera", though other productions have not done as well.   Continued...

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber speaks during the German game show "Wetten Dass" (Bet it...?) in Salzburg, March 27, 2010. REUTERS/Kerstin Joensson/Pool