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Legal fallout begins for scrapped North American arena tour of 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

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NEW YORK — The abrupt cancellation of this summer's North American arena tour of "Jesus Christ Superstar" is apparently not being forgiven.

The Really Useful Group, the London-based production company of "Superstar" composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, said Tuesday that it was taking legal action against music and theatrical producer Michael Cohl for the "unilateral decision" to scuttle the tour, which was to star punk legend John "Johnny Rotten" Lydon and Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child.

In a statement, The Really Useful Group said it "has 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."

Cohl's S2BN Entertainment had no immediate comment Tuesday.

The tour was to start June 9 in New Orleans and include stops in Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis, Phoenix, Seattle, Las Vegas, Denver, New York City, Boston and Philadelphia.

It was to star Lydon as King Herod, Williams as Mary Magdalene, Brandon Boyd of Incubus as Judas and JC Chasez of 'N Sync as Pontius Pilate. Ben Forster, the winner of the U.K.'s prime-time contest show "Superstar," was to play the son of God.

The guitar- and keyboard-driven rock musical, which debuted on Broadway in 1971, includes such songs as "What's the Buzz?" ''Superstar," ''Everything's Alright" and "I Don't Know How to Love Him."

Cohl, who was also a lead producer on the ill-fated, aerial-effects laden "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," declined to talk too much about the tour's financing when it was unveiled in April, but he said the new show's total costs were in the "eight figures" and needed to pull in "several hundred thousand dollars" each night to keep it on the road.


Follow Mark Kennedy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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