Majdanek - show called off
The museum at the former Nazi death camp Majdanek in Poland has canceled plans to host a production of "Jesus Christ Superstar," after criticism of the idea in news media, the director said Thursday.
Museum director Edward Balawejder said he had been persuaded by Lublin Musical Theater to host the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice rock opera after it pledged to perform it in a "respectful way," but then changed his mind after Polish newspapers reported objections from several Jewish figures.
"It was not a good idea, it did not take into consideration the relations between Christianity and Judaism," Balawejder told The Associated Press. "I decided that there will be no performance because we must stick to the message of the museum which is: truth, memory, reconciliation."
Piotr Kadlcik, leader of Poland's Jewish community, said he was "very happy" there will be no performance and called the cancellation a "voice of reason" but explained that the community, going through the Passover holiday, did not make any protests and only learned of the controversy from the Polish media.
"If Polish voices led to the cancellation, then they should be praised," Kadlcik told the AP. Former Israeli ambassador to Poland Shewach Weiss said on TVN24 television that the museum director has "made a mistake not out of ill will, but it has been set right now and we should move forward toward reconciliation and solidarity."
Museum officials say 230,000 people, including around 100,000 Jews, were killed during World War II in the camp, one of a network of extermination camps the Nazis set up in occupied Poland.
Director Jacek Boniecki of the theater in Lublin, eastern Poland, said his troupe's intention was to show the "universal tragic human fate" without any religious context.
"The monument is site of many international concerts, of prayers of many religions, and it is a neutral place," Boniecki said.
"Jesus Christ Superstar," Which debuted on Broadway in 1971, tells the story of the last seven days in the life of Jesus.
It was at that time criticized by some Christians as sacrilegious, while some Jewish groups complained it was anti-Semitic and showed most villains as Jewish. Boniecki said the project will be moved to another open-air site for a mid-July performance.