Superstar composer Lloyd Webber has previously used the reality-television format to find stars for West End productions of The Sound of Music, The Wizard of Oz, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Oliver! The television audience ultimately votes for their favorite performer to take on leading roles in the respective productions.
As previously reported, Tony and Olivier Award-winning composer now is planning a reality competition that will search for an actor to play Jesus in an arena tour of Superstar. Pop singer Nicole Scherzinger is reportedly being sought serve on the judging panel for the series and to also play Mary Magdalene. The role of Judas may also be cast through the competition.
"I really don't think Superstar needs that tasteless reality television treatment," Rice told the Telegraph. "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."
Rice has also contacted U.K. television channel ITV1, which will air the program this summer, stating that he was not comfortable with the show's format.
"They can't cast the show without my approval," Rice said. "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."
Meanwhile, the acclaimed Stratford Shakespeare Festival production of the rock opera, directed by Des McAnuff for a 2011 run in Ontario, will begin Broadway performances March 1 at the Neil Simon Theatre. The production is not connected to the planned U.K. arena revival.