Patsy Cline
September 8, 1932 -
March 5, 1963

Y
~ Gone too soon ... but
what a legacy she left ~

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Thank you for visiting the   Website of Ellis Nassour's
Patsy Cline :

Honky Tonk Angel

For information about Patsy Cline or to E-mail comments:
PatsyHTA@aol.com
 
 
 

An Excerpt from:
ROCK OPERA :

THE CREATION OF JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
From Record Album to Broadway Show and Motion Picture
by ELLIS NASSOUR

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1973 Hawthorne Books; Copyright Renewed by Putnam Books;
All Rights Reserved; Used by Permission

For information on the 
Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment Collection 
at the University of Mississippi


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After a troubled rehearsal and preview period, 
Jesus Christ Superstar
exploded on Broadway :

   . . .      Then an enormous golden prop descended from the flies and opened into a fan as the cast came out for their curtain call.   The audience was on its feet, yelling and applauding. Clive Barnes, the [New York] Times critic, exited up the aisle just before the auditorium became a solid mass of screaming fans. The cast did an encore of "Superstar" and then left the stage. They did not come back, even though the applause continued.The cast quickly ran through the backstage area, put away their props, threw off their robes to wardrobe, and dashed scantily dressed, to the upstairs dressing rooms. The atmosphere was anything but religious -- there was joyous shouting, much slapping on the back, popping of corks, and an abundance of colorful language. Vereen was still perspiring, Fenholt looked totally exhausted, while Miss Elliman proudly exhibited several bouquets of roses.
     "Did you hear them out there?" she asked. "I thought they would never stop clapping. I thought they were going crazy!"  Rice and Webber went through the rooms congratulating everyone, followed by Stigwood and O'Horgan. Soon there was an overflow crowd of well-wishers and gapers clogging the hallways and the stage area below.  The crusty old stage doorman who had seen the shows come and go over the years had a comment for the evening: "The theater is sure changing. Anything goes. And I still hate opening nights!"  Just as the marquee lights went out, O'Horgan and Pressel, walking along Fifty-first toward Broadway on a sidewalk littered with protest leaflets, stopped in front of the theater to chat with friends.
     "Nice going, Tom," said one young man as he passed. O'Horgan turned, gave a wave, and said, "Thanks, man. Thanks!" Then as he turned to his friends he uttered, "I'm glad it's over!"     The next evening on the six o'clock news the ABC affliliate in New York (WABC-TV) showed several first-nighters being interviewed. "What did you think of the show?" quizzed the announcer. "Fantastic," said one lady.
     "Really lousy!" offered another bystander.  "Simply great," sighed Andy Warhol.
     "It's not like No, No, Nanette," answered one young woman.   Then Kevin Sanders gave his critique of the rock opera -- a repeat from the late night news show of October 12 -- and narrated footage of the opening night party. "This was one of the biggest and most colorful parties in Broadway history. They came in tails, felt, jeans, braless, in chic gowns, barefoot, even topless. The revelers at the party looked as if they had not undergone a religious experience." Closing the segment, Sanders noted the Jesus Christ Superstar was "drawing bigger houses than any church in town, and they're supposed to be telling the same story." He then turned the program back to Roger Grimsby, the anchorman, who gasped wryly, "I just can't get over their last supper!"  The post-premiere gala at the austere Tavern-On-The-Green was one of the most expensive parties ever held. And one of the wildest. And one of the most talked about.  Usually following a premier, a producer gives a "watch" party at Sardi's or another restaurant or nightclub for the cast, crew, backers, and close friends. There are drinks, some food, and lots of predictions and back-slapping.
      This all culminates in the television reviews on the 11 P.M. news and the early A.M. second edition newspaper reviews. Some producers and press agents even have "spies" in the New York Times and Daily News composing rooms or newsrooms who phone in the verdict). But the party for Jesus Christ Superstar was a bit different. It was a superspectacular in the truest sense of the word -- cost: a whopping $25,000!  There were motion picture camera and media reporters. Waiters, with every imaginable type of hors d'oeuvre, floated around the room. There was a rock band, two bars, and four separate buffet tables that included cold vegetable and gelatin salads, huge baked hams, roast beefs, casseroles, beef bourguignon,  mousses, assorted desserts, and champagne and wine. Another table was filled with cold jumbo shrimps, curries, fresh fruit and cheeses. One thousand guest were invited. 
     Stigwood and creators Rice and Webber were asked by a newsman of they were bothered by the protest of various religious organizations. Webber, looking a bit irritated, responded sternly, "Do I look bothered?" . . .

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New York, 1970 : Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber  with Ellis Nassour at album launch of Jesus Christ Superstar, which became a world-wide phenomenon.
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    "Told with wit and in a clear 
    narrative style. A fascinating,
    inside look..."

             ~  Publishers Weekly
Jeff Fenholt (foreground) 
           as
Jesus and  
Ben Vereen as Judas.
[ Credit: Hal Bucksbaum, MCA Records ]         [Credit: 1971 Roy Blakey; Used by Permission ]

                                                                                                                                                                  
   As they arrived at the gala, the authors were pleased with the cheers from the partygoers. "They should enjoy the hell out of this blast," commented an onlooker. "If they're not rich already, this one'll do it for them." Stigwood was asked by a reporter why he had backed the play. "The life of Christ, especially the last seven days, is very dramatic," he explained. "I knew it would make good theater." 
     "There's a lot of talk about the Jesus movement," the producer had said earlier, "but this music is so great, you could go and do a musical about Mohammed or Moses and it would still be a hit."     In that morning's New York Times Stigwood was quoted, "We're slightly sitting ducks. I wish we could  have started off humbly -- off Broadway. But that would have been insanity!"    "Like an army of extras for a Fellini movie," described Time magazine, "the guest turned out to nibble at hams decorated to resemble Indonesian masks and to dance until 4 A.M. to live rock. Transvestites right out of The Damned, complete with dark red lipstick and 1930s feather boas, shouldered their way slinkily past matrons from Westchester."    There was something for everyone. Girls danced with guys, girls danced with girls, and guys danced with guys. The booze flowed freely even after the mammoth buffet ran out. Some guests managed to get a drink, then sought the table to which they were assigned and, because of the rowdyness, ended up leaving a half hour after they arrived. The Tavern bouncers had strict instructions to admit no one without an invitation. It was the party of the year, and it seemed every gate-crasher in New York made an attempt to get in on the goodies.
    One young woman who wore gray velvet knickers was turned away by the doorman. "Don't you know
who I am?" she boiled, pulling out a newspaper in which her photograph was featured. "I starred in Andy
Warhol's last picture."
    The doorman replied coolly, "I don't care who you are, you must have an invitation." She pulled up her
blouse, revealing her breasts, and said, "Here's my invitation. Does this get me in?" To the waiting crowd's
amazement, the doorkeeper, hardly ruffled, stared right into her eyes, and, without quavering, said quite
emphatically, "No!"
    Some photographers gathered, and the girl did her little act for the cameras, then walked away with the
group with whom she had arrived. At the same time, Andy Warhol and entourage pulled into the parking
lot. Warhol had an invitation, but when he discovered it was good for only one and not for all his followers
and starlets, he promptly left. However, the girl with the tear-away blouse was able to impress someone
with her "invitation" because later she sat at a deserted table with a male friend stuffing herself with food and
wine, bare bosoms and all, as photographers stood on chairs and clustered around to record the memorable scene.
    It was an evening of wild costumes. Everyone was trying to outdo the other, with the men's clothes rivaling the women's. They came in green, purple, and maroon tuxedos -- patent leather slippers, suede boots, cowboy boots, spats, and chaps -- black tie, no tie, frilly lace shirts, and no shirts at all. Some threads were even reminiscent of biblical times.
    A very dignified lady, swathed in mink, eyed a fellow with a red mustache, leather headband, dress, and high heels and screamed, "That's got to be the bearded lady from the circus!"
    Then there was the guest decked out in a one- piece silk suit, black top hat, and a necklace of pearls; the curly-haired man in the beige net jumpsuit and nothing else; the barefoot bearded fellow in another jumpsuit open well below the waist; the guy in the rather conservative suit sporting earrings and a stars-and-stripes shoulder purse and a date on seven inch heels draped in a black ankle length see-through outfit that was sleeveless and slit open at both sides; and the chap in the thick horned-rimmed glasses and Sherlock Holmes cape whose sideburns formed his moustache -- or vice versa. Ben Vereen walked about the room accepting well wishes with a shepard's staff in his hand. Stigwood, in black tie, posed for pictures and talked with television newsmen. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice seemed amazed and mystified at the goings on.
     "It's unbelievable," exclaimed Rice. "What a mad crush. I've never seen anything like it. I had to explain who I was to get in!"     A woman at one table took a look at the party and said to her husband, "It looks like Sodom and Gomorrah!"
    Jeff Fenholt and his wife, Maureen, arrived just in time to grab the last remaining food. Yvonne Elliman was with her parents. Between nibbles at the food and sips of the drinks, the columnists and television reporters made the rounds of the principles interviewing and photographing them.
    Rice's family sat serenely at an extra large round table near the entrance. They seem surprised at all the hulla-baloo. Particularly beaming was Rice's grandmother, to whom he is quite close and devoted.
    "They've hear about all the attention Jesus Chris Superstar has been getting over here," Rice said, "but this is their first time to see for themselves. The 'Superstar' single got limited airplay in England, and the LP is an absolute dud. [by this time, English record sales had not even reached the 300,000 mark] We are just beginning to get some publicity at home. Only three weeks ago a friend of my mother's said, 'Wouldn't it be wonderful if Tim could make a living out of that song.' "
    "It's all a bit incredible," Rice said. "It has all gotten a bit out of hand -- this orgy, the Superstar buttons and pocket calendars, the pickets, the T-shirts, the pirated concert versions touring around purporting to be the real Superstar, and all sorts of royalties and cuts. We never thought it would go this far."
    By the time the eleven o'clock news rolled around, the crowd had thinned considerably. The band was gone, but the dancing continued to the accompaniment of records. A television set was turned on, and press agent Merle DeBuskey monitored the various network channels.
    The reviews were mixed . . .

 

For information on the 
Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment Collection 
at the University of Mississippi


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