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’Jesus Christ Superstar’ cancels American tour

By MARK KENNEDY
Associated Press
Theater Jesus Christ Superstar
Evan Agostini - Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
At a press briefing, singer John Rotten Lydon throws bananas at the media, while JC Chasez, Michelle Williams and Brandon Boyd look on.

NEW YORK A new arena version of “Jesus Christ Superstar” starring punk rocker John “Johnny Rotten” Lydon and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child has canceled its 54-city tour just days before its launch in New Orleans.

The performance at Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena on June 11 is canceled.

Producers pulled the plug on the project Friday without explanation.

The tour was to start June 9 at Lakefront Arena in New Orleans and include stops in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix, Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, New York City, Boston and Philadelphia.

Producer Michael Cohl, who was also a lead producer on the ill-fated, aerial-effects laden “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” declined to talk about the tour’s financing when it was unveiled in April, but he said the new show’s total costs were in the “eight figures” and needed to pull in “several hundred thousand dollars” each night to keep it on the road.

It was to star Lydon as King Herod, Williams as Mary Magdalene, Brandon Boyd of Incubus as Judas and JC Chasez of `N Sync as Pontius Pilate. Ben Forster, the winner of the U.K.’s prime-time contest show “Superstar,” was to play the son of God.

The guitar- and keyboard-driven rock musical, which debuted on Broadway in 1971, includes such songs as “What’s the Buzz?” `'Superstar,” `'Everything’s Alright” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”

The musical dramatizes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the unrest caused by his preaching and popularity, his betrayal by Judas, the trial before Pilate and his ultimate crucifixion. It marked an early collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, who also created “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Evita.”

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