A Siberian theater triggered a storm Wednesday by canceling a staging of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” after a pro-Kremlin nationalist group condemned it as blasphemy.

The touring production by Saint Petersburg’s Rock Opera theater was due to open November 1 in the Musical Theatre of the city of Omsk, but the organizers canceled it this week following protests by conservative activists.

In a report from Omsk, Regnum news agency wrote Wednesday that the scandal “has prompted a major public reaction”.

It quoted art critic Vadim Klimov as saying: “Today you cannot say that Russia is a secular state.”

An obscure group called Family, Love, Fatherland had appealed to regional authorities to stop the staging and applied to hold a demonstration, accusing the long-running musical of “non-stop blasphemy” and “mockery of faith.”

The closure comes as relatively small numbers of nationalist activists with Orthodox beliefs are voicing their views more and more stridently, supported by some officials.

Amnesty International called the cancellation of the show “the latest example of interference in Russian cultural life by nationalist ‘activists’.”

The region’s culture ministry distanced itself from the decision to stop the show, with a spokesman saying the promoter canceled the show “for some reasons of its own,” RIA Novosti state news agency reported.

The Omsk diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church also denied any “interference” in the theater’s repertoire.

SourceAgence France Presse and al nahar
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