Tim Rice Returns To West End After 13 Years
Sir Tim Rice is making his return to the West End with a new musical called From Here To Eternity - his first original show in 13 years.
But the lyricist will be competing for audiences with his old writing partner Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, who also has a new show opening in December.
From Here To Eternity stars talent show winner Darius Campbell and is a love story set on an army base in the months leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941.
The show is based on the book of the same name by James Jones.
"This is quite a grown-up musical, but there's a lot of humour in it," said Rice.
Lloyd Webber's new show is set in the 1960s and retells the events leading up to the suicide of Stephen Ward, after whom the musical is named.
He was the man who introduced model and alleged call girl Christine Keeler to war minister John Profumo.
Speaking at the launch of Stephen Ward, Lloyd Webber said: "This show doesn't really deal with the Profumo affair except in a very brief way.
"What this is really, is a story about how the establishment came together to find a scapegoat for a whole range of things."
The musical masterminds have fallen out and reunited several times over the years.
Together they have scored some of the most popular and commercially successful musicals of all time, including Joseph And The Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita, and Jesus Christ Superstar.
Asked whether there was any chance of the pair working together again, Lord Lloyd Webber told Sky News: "I don't think he (Tim Rice) sees himself able to work with me again.
"But I wish him the very best of luck. He's a great lyricist and that's all I have to say."
Rice said: "It's unlikely we'll work together again because, well, it's unlikely I'll do another show after this one.
"But I said that after the previous one."
There is no suggestion that the timing of the two shows is anything more than coincidence and both men insist there is no rivalry.
But with the proliferation of "Jukebox musicals" that have pop music as their score, such as Let It Be or We Will Rock You - the question is whether Rice and Lloyd Webber still have pulling power.
Theatre critic Mark Shanton believes both men will be feeling a certain amount of pressure.
"Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice created their three biggest hits when they were very young men - before they were 30," he says.
"So of course 30 or 40 years later the stakes are quite high for them to come up with the goods again."
Stephen Ward opens on December 20 at the Aldwych Theatre.