So the St. Petersburg Rock Opera was staging a production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar at the Philharmonic in Rostov in southern Russia — until some neighborhood busybodies
complained that the musical presented a distorted image of Jesus Christ.
“A probe is under way, and subsequently the appropriate decision will be taken,” a spokesperson for the Rostov prosecutors told the Interfax news agency.
NTV television said ticket sales had been stopped pending the outcome of the probe.
“We are shocked that someone has demanded that the musical be cancelled,” an employee of the Philharmonic told the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily. “We will be told on Monday whether it is going ahead.”
The employee said the show had already been performed in Rostov five times and had been sold out on the last occasion.
The complaint, sent by 18 local residents to the prosecutors and theatre, said that the “image of Christ presented in the opera is false from the point of view of Christianity”, local media reported.
“As it stands, the work is a profanation,” it added.
Godspell, sure, but come on …
What’s weird is that Superstar has actually been quite popular in Russia since it was first performed in the days of the old Soviet Union. In fact, a representative of the Orthodox Church in the region pretty much told the press: “Don’t blame us.”
“The so-called Orthodox activists are expressing only their own opinion which is not shared by the Church,” Igor Petrovsky, spokesman for the Church in the Rostov region said, quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda.
He said many priests and believers had been grateful to hear the musical in the 1980s when it was first performed in the atheist Soviet Union and “hear something nice and beautiful about Christ.”
The relationship between the church and the state in Russia is a complicated one, so it’s unclear on what legal grounds the court would find the theater group “guilty” of — blasphemy? — if the Church says, “No, it’s not.”
Safe to say that everyone’s been on edge ever since the Lady Parts Ruckus ruckus. At least the ambassador to Libya was not murdered. Sure, box office suffered, which in the West is far worse, but I’m sure this will work its way through the justice system in a timely and rational manner in the best tradition of Russian jurisprudence. So expect everyone involved to suddenly “disappear” one day.
IN OTHER NEWS: Facebook unfriends false likes, a sentence that no rational person should ever have to write.