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Tim Rice (b. 1944) was considering a legal career when he met Andrew Lloyd Webber (b. 1948) in 1965. They began collaborating when Lloyd Webber was still a student, with Rice contributing lyrics for Lloyd Webber’s music. There first collaboration was the least well known: The Likes of Us was not even performed until 2005. The musical tells the somewhat Dickensian story of an ambitious man who finds his life course changed by a chance encounter with two homeless children.
The first Lloyd Webber and Rice production to have a public performance was a 20-minute pop oratorio, first performed at a London school, Colet Court School, in 1968, having been commissioned by the head of the music department there. Later lengthened to 30 minutes, it was sung at Westminster Central Hall, and further lengthened to 35 minutes, it was performed at St. Paul’s Cathedral in November of that year. Its final form was not reached until the 1970s, when Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat had now become a full musical theatre production.
There are a number of ways in which one could measure the popularity of this Lloyd Webber and Rice production. It was the number one album in the UK for two weeks of 1991. More than 20,000 amateur theater groups and schools have staged productions of it. The show appeals to those interested in the Bible story it is based on, as well as those who appreciate the wide-ranging musical styles and the twentieth century take on the themes of coming of age and forgiveness.
In between the long-term development of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Lloyd Webber and Rice created their third production, Jesus Christ Superstar, a rock opera that began as a concept album in 1970 and became a film in 1973. On stage, it was one of the longest running British works of musical theater. The work tells a fictionalized version of the life of Christ through songs, notably “Everything’s Alright,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” and “Superstar.” It aroused concern and condemnation from both Christians and Jews.
Jesus Christ Superstar opened on Broadway in 1971 and ran for 18 months. It has received many other international productions, and was released as a film in 1973 and again in 2000. The 1973 film won a BAFTA award for Best Soundtrack and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring Original Song Score and/or Adaptation. The 2000 film won an Emmy in the Performing Arts category.
Evita, the last Lloyd Webber and Rice musical, is a musical biography of Eva Perón, wife of Argentinian President Juan Perón. Like Jesus Christ Superstar, it began as a concept album. It has had successful follow-ups as musical theater productions on Broadway and the West end and as a film. It won 7 Tony Awards and the Best New Musical Olivier Award in 1978. The 1996 film won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song and the corresponding Golden Globe for Best Original Song – Motion Picture.
Aside from rejoining to produce the musical Cricket in 1986, Lloyd Webber and Rice each went on to collaborate with others after Evita. Lloyd Webber has since been involved in productions such as Cats and The Phantom of the Opera. Rice has been involved in several Disney Productions, working with Alan Menken and Elton John in works such as Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, and Aida.