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John Lydon-starring Jesus Christ Superstar US tour cancelled

By | Published on Monday 2 June 2014

John Lydon

An all-star production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, which was due to begin a 51 date tour of the US later this month, was abruptly cancelled on Friday. Low ticket sales were cited as the reason for the decision.

As previously reported, amongst the cast were Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams, Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd, JC Chasez of The Backstreet Boys and the one, the only John Lydon.

The show’s producer Michael Cohl, the veteran tour promoter who also worked on U2’s ill-fated Spiderman musical, told The New York Times: “It became obvious the shows were in trouble, but we tried until the last moment to give it every chance to turn around. In the end, it just did not make business sense to continue, and we didn’t want the cast to endure playing to disappointing audiences”.

That sales were low to the point of potential disaster was seemingly information that was kept from the cast until the last minute, with many of the performers involved expressing surprise at the cancellation of the tour. Ben Forster, who has been playing Jesus in the touring show elsewhere since winning a competition in 2012, tweeted: “I am so devastated. I’m sorry to everyone who got tickets and flights. Who ever fucked it up I hate you. But I forgive you, I’m Jesus… well I was”.

Brandon Boyd announced the news to his fans, saying: “I got fired from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ today… but so did the rest of the cast so we’re all sad together. Yeah, it’s true. Tour cancelled”.

Meanwhile, some of the 70 supporting cast members rehearsing in London and preparing to travel to the US posted this photo.

Cohl said that money spent on the show prior to its cancellation amounted to “eight figures”, suggesting that actually going ahead with it would only have increased losses further and that everything possible had been done to avert this situation. However, Forster told NYT that promotion of the tour had not been up to much, particularly noting how few radio and TV appearances he or the rest of the show’s stars had done – something you would expect to be a high priority for a touring show that was hitting venues of up to 20,000 seats.

John Lydon, who was to play King Herod in the show, told NYT that he and his fellow cast members had been rehearsing for months “devoid of human contact”. Commenting on Cohl, he added: “I had a run-in with the alleged promoter in New York. I didn’t like him and I instinctively didn’t trust him. The excuses are going to have to be phenomenal. All that Mr Cohl had to do was ring me up, and I’d have lent him $5”.

Asked what he might do to fill the new hole in his schedule, Lydon claimed: “I’m going to be doing the ballet next”.