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EXTRA LETTER: Andrew Lloyd Webber's Notes After The First Rehearsal of Jesus Christ Superstar

April 9th, 1971

OK gang, let’s not get downhearted, there were a lot of positives to take away from tonight’s rehearsal. But I do feel we need to make a number of changes before the opening.

On consideration, I may drop the song ‘Crossing Up the Ritz’. I’m beginning to realise that it doesn’t make sense. I know this is something of a fantasy but top hats and crucifixions are an odd combo.

I know I instructed you all to play it ‘free and easy’ but we really need to tone down the foul language. I counted 14 ‘fucks’ and, inexplicably, 11 ‘shit nips’ during the Last Supper alone.

Mary Magdalene, you have to take the performance WAY down. Your sexy noises are completely drowning out the orchestra at certain points. And much less tongue waggling.

Might lose the ‘burning bush’ gag. It gets a laugh, but it really is very vulgar.

Can anyone remember why Pontius Pilate shouts ‘Surf’s up, dude!’ at the end of his scene? It suddenly seems incongruous.

We don’t have to turn water into Vimto any more. The deal fell through.

Still loving Jesus’ catchphrase of ‘Thanks Dad!’ but perhaps tone down the eye-rolling and fist shaking towards heaven.

I’m really starting to have my doubts about the whole latke eating competition sub-plot, even though it does have the best songs (‘Fried Potato Mama’ etc)

We’ll give the robot one more chance, but if it malfunctions again, I feel we’ll have to drop it completely. I’ll write an extra song to cover his dance number. Something about Lent.

I think it is common knowledge that Jesus was a carpenter, so perhaps we don’t need to bother with all the sawdust and the constant carrying of a bandsaw.

Unless I can muster up a stronger middle eight, I may have to abandon ‘Me-ssiah, You-ssiah, We All Siah, For You Sire’.

I still love the whole ‘practice crucifixion’ scene with the pantomime horse. But Bernie Delfont popped in during rehearsal and was incredibly disturbed by it. He said it was the most chilling thing he’d seen on a stage in 40 years of show business. I don’t know what

we’ll do with all the fake blood and urine. If anyone has any ideas, let me know.

Judas still sounds really sarcastic. He can be a bit sarcastic, but not all the time. He’s coming across as something of a dick.

I’m worried we’ll be accused of jumping on the ‘Hair’ bandwagon with all the gratuitous full-frontal nudity. Might need to run up some costumes after all. And I fear the whole ‘tit measuring’ sequence might be slightly too ‘Oh Calcutta’.

Everything needs to be gayer. At least 15% more I’d say.

Finally, I think we may have to forego the whole resurrection finale, as the winch just doesn’t work. Our Saviour’s genitals get chafed every time. He’s supposed to look serene, which is difficult to do when he’s constantly shouting, “OWWWWW, my BALLS!”

Ok, that’s all for now. That last run-through was a good, solid six and a half hours. So we may need to pick up the pace a little. I can always play the piano a bit faster if necessary.

Best, ALW

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