'Jesus Christ Superstar' Promoter Blames Tour Cancellation on Low Ticket Sales

6:41 PM PST 05/31/2014 by Devon Maloney, Billboard
Joan Marcus
"Jesus Christ Superstar" on Broadway

Michael Cohl said many of the dates only sold at half-capacity: "In the end it just did not make business sense to continue."

Following news Friday night that the star-studded, multimillion-dollar production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar arena tour had been abruptly canceled, the tour's promoter, Michael Cohl, has explained that as suspected, the ax fell because ticket sales weren't cutting it.

"It became obvious the shows were in trouble, but we tried until the last moment to give it every chance to turn around," Cohl, the former Live Nation chairman and veteran Rolling Stones promoter told The New York Times Saturday. The 1970 rock opera -- the production of which Cohl cited earlier this year as costing somewhere in the "eight-figure" range -- needed to make "several hundred thousand dollars" at each of its 18,000- to 20,000-seat arena stops, but sales just didn't meet expectations; many of the dates only sold at half-capacity.

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"In the end, it just did not make business sense to continue, and we didn’t want the cast to endure playing to disappointing audiences," said Cohl.

This latest production of Superstar was to feature a celebrity cast, including Incubus's Brandon Boyd (Judas Iscariot), Destiny's Child's Michelle Williams (Mary Magdalene), the Sex Pistols' John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon (King Herod), and 'N Sync's JC Chasez (Pontius Pilate). The cast had no knowledge of the cancellation and had been rehearsing all the way up until Friday morning, when they were informed of the news. The notice posted last night on the show's website states that all tickets will be refunded.

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.

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