Credit: Sir Tim Rice

Musical theatre legend Sir Tim Rice shares his adventures at sea

Author: Lesley Bellew

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On an emotional European cruise aboard Seabourn Encore, Sir Tim reveals his love of travel – and why he can’t rely on a warm welcome in Bangkok.

Lyricist Sir Tim Rice is one of the all-time legends of musical theatre.

His shows with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber include worldwide smash hits such as Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar, and he is one of only 17 artists to win the complete set of awards – Emmy, Oscar, Grammy and Tony.

He also loves cruising, and his onboard show An Evening with Tim Rice is a hugely popular attraction on Seabourn ships.

On some voyages, Sir Tim introduces the show himself, and he was on fine form during Seabourn Encore’s comeback Mediterranean cruise this spring – the first outing for both the ship and its illustrious guest since the two-year Covid hiatus.

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"I can’t quite believe this is the first time I’ve been out of the UK since 2020,’ says Tim. ‘It’s so great to be travelling again – especially to Portugal, a country that I’d never visited before.

"I made the most of an extra day in Lisbon, as Seabourn Encore’s Captain David Bathgate decided to let the winds across the Atlantic drop off a little before we headed down to the Canaries for some more sunshine.

"I really enjoyed exploring the city under blue skies, seeing the cathedral and Cristo Rei, the Christ statue, as well as finding some rather nice restaurants. I will certainly be coming back."

Portugal's timeless capital, Lisbon, rewards a visit. Credit: Shutterstock
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Much as he relished the chance to explore ashore, Tim says he is also impressed by Encore’s "marvellous" crew, and the excellent dining options on board.

"Every time I sail on a Seabourn ship, I realise they’re just the right size – not too big, yet with all the mod cons."

A keen globetrotter, Sir Tim reveals that many of his most famous works have been inspired by the sights he’s seen on his travels.

"The great thing about having good fortune in musical theatre is that you get invited to see productions across the world," he explained.

"Over the years, that has given me ideas for shows and lyrics. For example, when Andrew Lloyd Webber and I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar in Iceland in 1972, I became fascinated by the Boris Spassky versus Bobby Fischer world chess championship that was then taking place in Reykjavik."

Sir Tim sailing onboard Seabourn Encore. Credit: Seabourn

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"It was not only the drama of the matches that gripped me, but the underlying battle between East and West.

"It also reminded me of the meeting between Premier Khrushchev and President Kennedy over the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and, well, the story went from there. That’s where the idea of Chess came from.

"I also travelled to Bangkok – but unlike the Chess song [One Night in Bangkok], I went for about three nights. I found the city fascinating; the traffic was like one big chess game. I have never been there for an actual holiday, although I think One Night in Bangkok got banned in Thailand!"

Tim traces his love of travel back to his childhood. After the Second World War his father worked for the famous de Havilland aircraft company as their Far East representative, so when Tim was 10, he and his family lived in Japan.

Spectacular palaces and temples abound in Bangkok. Credit: Shutterstock

"We sailed out there by boat and came back by plane, which stopped everywhere so we saw lots of different countries," he remembered.

"Travel must be in my genes – at school, I was very keen on anything to do with geography, maps and the solar system.

"My brother lives in South Africa and has driven right across Africa in a Jeep, and my other brother lived in Japan for many years.

"There is obviously something about our family – we do not like staying in one place!"

Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was released in 1968. Credit: Sir Tim Rice

The colourful story behind a hit show

Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber made their musical debut 54 years ago in 1968 with Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. But that now famous title was in serious doubt almost until the curtain rose on the first performance.

The problem was the word Technicolor – a trademark owned by the film company of the same name, whose lawyers wrote to the young duo forbidding them to use it.
Sir Tim takes up the story…

"Technicolor goes back to 1893 and has been at the forefront of film technology ever since, so as two totally unknown guys we had no power to argue. However, we did have an agent who wrote back and said, 'OK, we’re going to call the show Joseph and his Amazing Eastman Dreamcoat.'"

Eastman was a competitor to Technicolor so they quickly replied saying they would rather we said Technicolor, but we had to credit.

An Evening with Sir Tim Rice is an exclusive partnership with Belinda King Creative Productions in collaboration with Seabourn Cruises.