By Kenneth Jones
19 Dec 2001
McCoy Rigby Entertainment, the Nederlander Organization and the Really Useful Group are planning a new 2002-2003 national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar using elements of the recent Broadway production, producer Tom McCoy told Playbill On-Line.
The Nederlanders and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group approached McCoy about collaborating on a tour of the famed Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice retelling of the last days of Christ. McCoy said he felt the militaristic aspects of Gale Edwards (flop) production on Broadway in the 2000-2001 season would be a hard sell on the road, particularly following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America.
"All those machine guns and 'Nazis' on stage and a lot of the blood and bumping and grinding —I'm not sure it served the a purpose of the show so well," McCoy said. "I felt that it would not work whatsoever [on tour]."
The new production will premiere in the commercial season at McCoy's La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in California in fall 2002 and then tour for a year. La Mirada theatre was the launchpad for the hit revival of Peter Pan starring McCoy's wife, Cathy Rigby.
Director Gale Edwards is not available to stage the tour. Her assistant director, Kevin Moriarty, will take on the job and make adjustments to the show's concept, while still "honoring" her version, McCoy said. Expect it to be a kinder and gentler Jesus Christ Superstar, more in the tradition of the U.K. staging by Edwards. McCoy said the Broadway version was more explicitly violent and sexual than the U.K. production.
"Especially since Sept. 11 what we can't do is have a bunch of guards on stage with machines guns," McCoy said. "It's the wrong message at the wrong time. It needs to be a more joyful experience."
Also in fall 2002, McCoy Rigby Entertainment is partnering with NETworks to send out a 10-month national tour of Seussical, the Musical, starring Cathy Rigby as The Cat in the Hat. Writers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty are rewriting and reconceiving some of the Broadway show, which had wide audience appeal despite missteps that led to it flopping in New York. Christopher Ashley is expected to direct.