"'Jesus Christ Superstar' always really was a rock show," the
Grammy Award-winning British composer added.
British actor Ben Forster, who plays the title role, said the
tour "is my American dream about to come true."
Brandon Boyd, lead singer of the American rock band Incubus;
Grammy Award-winner Michelle Williams of pop group Destiny's
Child; and ex-'N Sync singer JC Chasez round out the cast. John
Rotten Lydon, former frontman of the punk rock group the Sex
Pistols, is also part of the cast.
Webber, Rice and concert promoter Michael Cohl are backing the
arena tour of the musical, which was first performed in the
United States in 1971.
Webber said the story of Jesus Christ is ubiquitous and timeless
in Western culture.
"People have been writing about Jesus in particular, and Bible
stories in general, for hundreds of years," he added. "It's
always relevant, I think."
The arena show will rely heavily on video elements, staging that
would have been almost impossible a few years ago because of the
limitations in video technology.
It comes on the heels of successful productions in Britain and
Australia in recent years. While Cohl wouldn't divulge costs of
the tour, he indicated it cost more than $10 million to launch,
saying the cost was in "eight figures."
"Superstar" was originally an album produced by Webber and Rice
in September 1970. As Billboard's top pop record in 1971 it sold
7.5 million copies, outperforming George Harrison, John Lennon
and Led Zeppelin, according to Cohl.
(Editing by Patricia Reaney and Leslie Adler)
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