The cancellation of what would’ve been a truly bizarre production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar is now the subject of a lawsuit between the Really Useful Group — Webber’s production company — and Michael Cohl, the main promoter behind the failed adaptation, The New York Times reports.
Boasting a borderline surreal cast of the Sex Pistols‘ Johnny Rotten (King Herod), ‘N Sync’s JC Chasez (Pontius Pilate), Destiny’s Child Michelle Williams (Mary Magdalene), Incubus‘ Brandon Boyd (Judas) and British reality show winner Ben Forster (Jesus), the new production was abruptly canceled at the end of May before the 51-city North American arena trek could even start. At the time, Cohl cited poor ticket sales as the primary reason, saying, “It just did not make business sense to continue.”
In a new statement, the Really Useful Group said they’ve been trying to recoup the costs of the late cancellation out of court, but now had “no option but to proceed with legal action to recover its costs associated with the project and in turn, satisfy outstanding payments to suppliers and contractors.”
Really Useful group chief executive, Barney Wragg, went on to note the success of the sell-out U.K. arena tour of Jesus Christ Superstar in 2012 and 2013 (which also starred Forster in the titular role), as well as an ensuing trek through Australia. He said the company was “hugely disappointed to be let down in this way particularly taking into account the impact (both personal and financial) that it has had on the many people who have put so much hard work into this project.”
The Jesus Christ Superstar suit is yet another bit of bad luck for Cohl, who also produced the disastrous, unprofitable Broadway run of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, as well as a recent Janis Joplin musical, A Night with Janis Joplin, which was canceled ahead of its off-Broadway opening at the Gramercy Theater.