Tim Rice calls for shows to cut back on previews

Tim Rice. Photo: Helen Maybanks.
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Tim Rice has called for the length of preview periods on theatre shows to be reduced, claiming producers are now viewing them as “super-rehearsals”.

The Jesus Christ Superstar lyricist told The Stage he would like to go back to the days when a show had one dress rehearsal that was open to the public before officially opening.

He said it could be considered a “gimmick” not to have any previews, and revealed that his attempts to convince producers on some of his shows to do this had always been rejected.

“I am sure if you went back to the days of My Fair Lady they would have had one public dress rehearsal and that is it. And in a way I would like to go back to that,” he said.

Rice added: “Now you have people tweeting and blogging immediately, so you may as well regard your first preview as your opening night, because you are going to get reviews.”

Rice’s new show, From Here to Eternity, began previews on September 30 at the Shaftesbury Theatre. It opens officially on October 23, which means it will have had more than three weeks of previews.

Rice said he was not criticising this decision, claiming that it was in line with other productions.

But he said: “If you now have 20 previews, you will regard 19 of them as super-rehearsals, which is fine, except you are being watched by thousands. I remember suggesting on more than one show over the years, ‘Let’s not have any previews’. But no one agreed with me. If you could do that, however, it would be a great gimmick – no previews, just opening night.”

For a full interview with Tim Rice, see this week's print edition of The Stage or subscribe to our digital edition here.