Well, that didn’t last long — in April, a 50-city North American arena tour was announced for a production of ’70s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, featuring a grab bag of irrelevant musicians in leading roles, including Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd, former Destiny’s Child Michelle Williams, *NSYNC’s JC Chasez, and the Sex Pistol’s Johnny Rotten. If that lineup wasn’t weird enough, what happened next is even weirder. The tour was set to start in New Orleans on June 9 and the performers have been rehearsing for months. However, on Friday when the cast went in for rehearsal, they were told the show was no longer going to run.
The New York Times story on the tour’s cancellation reads like a lesson in sketchy business practices. The whole tour was orchestrated by promoter Michael Cohl, who was also behind the troubled and unprofitable Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark and A Night With Janis Joplin, which was also cancelled at the last minute. In an e-mail to the newspaper, he cited low ticket sales and a lack of interest as the reason for the cancellation. However, Ed Rubinstein, an executive at a company that helped book some of the shows on the tour, said that “everything seemed to be moving alone fine” and that sales were “decent.”
The cast obviously isn’t happy that they wasted months of their lives on a tour that isn’t going to run — ensemble casts in London and the US both posted photos with their middle fingers up to protest the last minute cancellation. Ben Forster, who was set to play the lead role, was especially upset: “For me, it was the American dream about to happen,” Mr. Forster told the NYT. “What’s that Miley Cyrus song, ’Wrecking Ball’? I feel like someone just came in and took a big wrecking ball to the ’Jesus Christ Superstar’ tour.”
Johnny Rotten was also very opinionated on the matter: “I had a run-in with the alleged promoter in New York. I didn’t like him and I instinctively didn’t trust him.” He said that the Cohl’s disregard for the months they spent rehearsing was “devoid of human contact” and that “the excuses are going to have to be phenomenal.”
Let’s mourn that we’ll never get to see Rotten play King Herod, Williams play Mary Magdalene, Boyd as Judas, Chasez as Pontius Pilate. Rest in peace, Jesus Christ Superstar.
[Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty.]