Elice was born and bred in New York City, where he attended public elementary, junior high, and high schools. He was the salutatorian graduate of Francis Lewis High School in Queens, New York (class of 1973). He earned a BA from Cornell University, an MFA from the Yale Drama School, and in 1980-81 was a Teaching Fellow at Harvard. He is a charter member of the American Repertory Theater. From 1982–1999, Elice was copywriter, producer, creative director and eventually executive vice president of Serino Coyne, Inc., an entertainment advertising agency in New York. From 1999–2009, he served as creative consultant to Walt Disney Studios. His civil partner was actor Roger Rees. They married in 2011 and remained together until Rees' death, from brain cancer, on July 10, 2015. Elice's memoir of Rees' life and their much-admired partnership of more than thirty years, called "Finding Roger," is published by Kingswell.
Elice with Marshall Brickman wrote the book for the Broadway musical Jersey Boys, which received a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk nomination for best book for a musical in 2006. With Roger Rees, he wrote the popular thriller, Double Double, which has been translated into 16 languages.
He wrote Leonardo’s Ring (London Fringe, 2003) and Dog and Pony (New York Stage and Film, 2003). Elice was creative director at Serino Coyne, Inc. (1982–2000), where he produced advertising campaigns for more than 300 Broadway shows including A Chorus Line and The Lion King. He has been a creative consultant for Walt Disney Studios from 1999–2009.
In 2008, he co-wrote Turn of the Century with Marshall Brickman. The show was directed by Tommy Tune and premiered at The Goodman Theatre in Chicago in September 2008.
Elice collaborated with Brickman once again, this time writing the book for the musical, The Addams Family. After a successful run at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts Oriental Theatre in Chicago, The Addams Family opened on Broadway on April 8, 2010, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, starring Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth as Gomez and Morticia Addams.
He wrote Peter and the Starcatcher, based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, which opened in California in 2009 and played off-Broadway in 2011. The play moved to Broadway, opening at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre on April 15, 2012. Peter and the Starcatcher received nine Tony Award nominations, more than any new American play in the history of the Tony Awards. On June 11, 2012, the play won five Tony Awards. The play enjoyed a successful tour throughout North America in 2013–14.
His most recent collaboration with Brickman was for the film of Jersey Boys, directed by Clint Eastwood and released by Warner Brothers in June 2014. Brickman and Elice wrote the screenplay, adapted from their book for the stage musical.
A new musical, Dog and Pony, with book by Elice and music and lyrics by Michael Patrick Walker, had its world premiere at The Old Globe in San Diego in June 2014, starring Nicole Parker, Jon Patrick Walker, Heidi Blickenstaff, Beth Leavel and Eric William Morris, directed by Roger Rees.
Source:2006 Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical: Jersey Boys (Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice) – Nomination
2006 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical: Jersey Boys (Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice) – Nomination
2006 Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical: "Jersey Boys" (Book by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice) - Winner
2012 Tony Award for Best Play: Peter and the Starcatcher (Written by Rick Elice) – Nomination
2012 Tony Award for Best Original Score Written for the Theatre: Peter and the Starcatcher (Written by Rick Elice [for lyrics]) – Nomination