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Lloyd Webber & ITV team up to search for Superstar

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Andrew Lloyd Webber and ITV have confirmed they are teaming up for a new series titled Superstar, to hunt for an actor to play the lead role in a forthcoming stadium tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.

The new series will follow a similar format to Any Dream Will Do, How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria?, I'd Do Anything and Over the Rainbow - which were all broadcast on the BBC.

Jesus Christ Superstar, Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1970 follow-up to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, was the clear favourite in a 2010 Whatsonstage.com poll as the musical that voters would most like to see cast via television next.

Some 57% of voters avidly watched the most recent series, Over the Rainbow, and of those, 62% said it not only made for great television entertainment but also made them want to see the resulting stage show, reinforcing recent Society of London Theatre (SOLT) research on the benefits of the “Saturday night TV effect”.

Superstar is being billed as “television's first 'school of rock', helping talented singers achieve their potential”. Lloyd Webber hopes the British public will help him discover “an extraordinary new voice to fill the country's largest arenas”.

Nationwide search

Auditions will take place across the country from February to March in London, Dublin, Belfast, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff. In a similar format to fellow ITV show X Factor, wannabe stars will perform on stage in the hope of impressing the casting panel for a place in the final live shows.

Lloyd Webber, who will lead the panel, said: "It is the public who lead the casting process and they've got it absolutely right four times already. It's been wonderful to see the careers of so many of the contestants blossom, so it will be especially fascinating to see who the public chooses as their Superstar."

Elaine Bedell, ITV's director of entertainment and comedy, added: "We are asking ITV viewers to help us find a new superstar - in every sense of the word. We're looking for the kind of performer who can fill arenas - and produce a rocking performance to match."

The winner will lead the cast when the stadium tour kicks off at the O2 Arena later this year – making it the first Lloyd Webber TV-cast show to open outside the West End.

The composer said: "Presenting a new, 2012 version of Jesus Christ Superstar for arenas is truly exciting. Some of the best performances of this show have been in rock venues and I'm thrilled to see the show return to its roots. ITV is providing the perfect platform for us to find a new, British Superstar."

The Lord needs a Lord

The last major London production of Jesus Christ Superstar, which tells of the political and interpersonal struggles of Judas Iscariot and Jesus, was at the Lyceum Theatre in 1997. The show includes hits such as “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, “Gethsemane” and “Superstar”, and has proved one of the most popular of the Lloyd Webber/Rice collaborations.

When rumours of the new casting show first emerged, Whatsonstage.com asked for suggestions for titles and themes on Twitter. This elicited a flood of titles ("Oh, Christ", "The Lords Needs a Lord") and catchphrases ("you could still be Jesus!", "you've been saved by the Lord") - and even suggestions that losing contestants might be subjected to lashes.


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