The widely anticipated nationwide tour of Jesus Christ Superstar has been abruptly cancelled. The original Andrew Lloyd Weber rock opera began its run on Broadway in 1970 and became an instant pop-culture classic. It also spawned the hit song I Don’t Know How To Love HIm. Three years later the film adaptation, directed by Norman Jewison was released.
Fast forward to April of this year. A nationwide tour of a new revival of Jesus Christ Superstar was announced at a press conference in New York City. The stars of the production were present at the conference, including: Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child, Ben Forster who starred in the leading role of Jesus Christ Superstar in a 2012 revival, former punk-rocker John “Johnny Rotten” Lyndon, NSync’s J.C. Chasez, and Brandon Boyd.
Dubbed The Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular; Options Clause Entertainment LLC, an affiliate of S2BN Entertainment, suddenly announced that the tour had been cancelled. No explanation was given. No statement has been issued by the producers. However. lead actor Brandon Boyd took to Twitter and spewed out an interesting tweet noting that he’d just gotten fired from Jesus Christ Superstar. He noted that he wasn’t alone because all of the other cast members were also fired. He confirmed that it was true that the tour had been cancelled.
The anticipated tour was scheduled to embark on its nationwide trek in New Orleans on June 9. The production company has noted that all purchased tickets will be refunded, but no indication was given for an alternate date for the revival. There remains no clue as to why the producers have abruptly cancelled the new Jesus Christ Superstar national tour.
The shows producer, Michael Cohl never spoke in detail about the financial backing for the tour. He did however, note that in order for the production to remain on the road, they would need to bring in several hundred thousand dollars per each performance. Cohl, a former strip club owner, is also one of the producers behind the infamously debacled and then successfully revamped production of New York’s Spider-man Turn Off The Dark. Perhaps with this experience behind him, he can recognize the tell-tale signs of a production that is not yet ready, but this does not coincide with Boyd’s “fired” tweet.
The rock-opera is fashioned from the biblical turbulent times of Jesus Christ, and his relationship and Judas which eventually lead to Jesus’ crucifixion. The original 1970 production was deemed an instant classic and still remains a signature production and reflection of that by-gone era of turmoil and regeneration. This was the time of Haight-Ashbury hippies (some of whom may have resembled the popular image of Jesus Christ), the bloody Kent State protest of the war in Vietnam, the Beatles Let It Be album, and the still on-going civil rights movement.
In this new production King Herod was to be portrayed by Johnny Lyndon. Michelle Williams was to portray Mary Magdalene. Brandon Boyd was to play Judas. JC Chasez was to play Pontius Pilate, and Ben Forster would have starred as Jesus Christ.
The Jesus Christ Superstar stage production is just one of two hit musicals with biblical themes composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The second was Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. There has also been no statement from Andrew Lloyd Webber regarding the sudden cancellation of this much anticipated nationwide tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Commentary by Janet Walters Levite