by Jeff Loeb, Associate General Manager
I am not one who is overly impressed with celebrities that visit the theatre. The seat you are sitting costs the same whether you are famous or not and either you have a ticket for a seat or you don’t. So it came as a shock to me that I became excited to find out that Sir Tim Rice was to receive his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame directly in front of the theatre. You have to understand that Sir Rice wrote what my family considers to be the two best musicals of all time. "Evita" and "Jesus Christ Superstar."
(Moment of silence in honor of these two shows, please)
It was every Saturday while starting to do our weekend cleaning that we would put on one of the two albums and turn the stereo up loud enough to hear over the vacuum. There was nothing like vacuuming to the overture of "JCS" with those cymbals crashing. Is it even fair to say that my sister and I loved doing chores then?
Jump forward to recently when I am told that Sir Tim Rice will be receiving his star directly in front of the theatre lobby and that we are to host a small private reception for him prior to the event in our lobby. In past when events like this have happened there are usually 20 or so people affiliated with the person and the only interaction between us and the person is to welcome them and coordinate any additional last minute needs. That day I was surprised when Sir Rice showed up with three other people and we walked inside the theatre, just the four of us.
Sir Rice was all excited to be in the theatre and started asking questions about its history. I am a historical theatre nut and was more than happy to recount stories about the theatre. Wait, I was having a conversation with Tim Rice. Didn’t he need to coordinate the logistics of his star ceremony, practice his speech, use he restroom? I certainly would have to step into the men’s room if I were about to receive a star on the walk of fame.
Then something happened that stopped my heart. Sir Rice looked to me and said, “Wouldn’t it be great to do 'Chess' here?” Now mind you they had recently completed a concert version with Josh Grobin, Adam Pascal and Idina Menzel in London and I have dreamed that a tour of "Chess" would happen and we would have the good fortune of presenting the show. In full cardiac arrest he followed that up with “Jeff, what do you think about the idea of doing 'Chess' here?”
Are you serious? I thought to myself. Sir Tim Rice is asking me what I thought about the prospects of his show in our theatre. Was I really having a conversation about this show with the man who could make it happen? I composed myself and calmly I replied, “I think 'Chess' would be a very well received by our audiences.” Sir Rice added “I would love to see the show in this theatre.”
We chatted for about 20 minutes until the ceremony happened. At the end, I was standing out on the side walk and turned to go inside to my office when I heard over my shoulder “Jeff, Jeff” and there was Sir Rice walking briskly over to say thank you for taking care of him. He was genuine, he was warm and he was very charming. That meeting is one that reminds me how thankful I am to be working here at the Pantages Theatre. I relish in the special moments we create for our patrons and once in a great while, those moments are my very own.