Sunday, January 22

Sir Tim Rice Opposes ITV Show to Cast Jesus Christ Superstar

Sir Tim Rice is in strong disagreement over the ITV show which Lord Lloyd Webber has launched this week  to find someone to play the lead in Jesus Christ Superstar  for an arena tour later this year. They originally wrote Jesus Christ Superstar as an album in 1969 which became a hit a West End musical in 1972.

The Lord previously found stars for West End productions of The Sound of Music, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Oliver! and The Wizard of Oz on BBC talent shows,

Sir Tim who wrote the musical's lyrics has called the search to find the next Jesus as "tasteless", "tacky" and "relentlessly downmarket".

Sir Tim said that Lord Lloyd Webber had ignored his requests not to cast a new production of the musical via a television contest and said: "I've had several meetings with Andrew and said that I don't want this done, but now it appears it's been signed and sealed.  Andrew wants to rehash things all the time, but I really don't think Superstar needs that tasteless reality television treatment. Those shows are relentlessly downmarket, which is fine if the show is a lightweight bit of fluff. I am fully behind an arena show, but I just don't think you need another television series to do that."

Sir Tim said that the musical's religious and political themes could become a source of ridicule in a television talent show with the judges telling hopeful contestants: "You could be Jesus"

He said: "It opens up a lot of opportunities for spoofs and I think it would be ill-advised to have people voting for who should be Jesus. It's just possible that it might be the most sophisticated, tasteful show hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but I doubt it. It sounds tacky and I really don't think Andrew should do it."

Sir Tim also added that he is prepared to veto the winning contestant "They can't cast the show without my approval. I have the right to veto casting so if Andrew casts it on TV and I didn't like the person, I could say so." He has also written to ITV, saying he "does not feel comfortable with the concept of the show".

While there has long been speculation about tensions between them they have always been careful to stress their amicable relationship. Lord Lloyd Webber said in a recent interview: "There has never been a feud. We have been great friends for a very long time."  They worked together in 2010 on two new songs for a West End production of The Wizard of Oz.

Regional auditions for Jesus Christ Superstar will begin next month and the programme will air every night for three weeks on ITV1 during June and July.

Lord Lloyd Webber declined to comment on Sir Tim's concerns.

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