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Tim Rice calls Jesus Christ Superstar plans 'tacky'

As Jesus Christ Superstar prepares for a return to Broadway, lyricist Tim Rice has lashed out at his former creative partner Andrew Lloyd Webber's plans to find a saviour for a new UK production of the musical through reality television.

In an interview, Rice called the project to cast the Jesus for a British arena tour of the musical through an ITV1 program "tasteless" and "tacky".

"It opens up a lot of opportunities for spoofs and I think it would be ill-advised to have people voting for who should be Jesus," he told the Daily Telegraph this week.

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"It's just possible that it might be the most sophisticated, tasteful show hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, but I doubt it."

Rice, who also collaborated with composer Lloyd Webber on Evita, noted that he had veto power over the casting of Jesus Christ Superstar and might exercise it if he doesn't like who wins.

In recent years, Lloyd Webber has found leads for London productions of The Wizard of Oz, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Oliver! through a series of televised talent contests.

The composer and producer also exported this format to Canada – in 2008, Elicia MacKenzie won the role of Maria in a Toronto production of The Sound of Music via the CBC television show How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?

While Lloyd Webber and Rice are at loggerheads over this UK production of Jesus Christ Superstar, they have both given their seal of approval to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival production of the show headed to Great White Way in March.

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Theatre critic

J. Kelly Nestruck is The Globe's theatre critic. More

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