Joseph cannot catch a break. First he was sold into slavery, then he was thrown in prison, and now, lyrics from the very musical based on his biblical journey have been butchered.
That’s right. A New Zealand festival called Artsplash, which involves thousands of elementary school students, is putting on a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the famed Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Turns out, someone decided to replace the original lyrics from the song “Close Every Door,” from “children of Israel are never alone” to “children of kindness are never alone.” As The Times of Israel originally reported, this change was brought to the attention of Rice, the musical’s lyricist, who told the company that he had not given permission to change the lyrics. He called it “a terribly drippy and meaningless alteration.”
The city council of Wellington, where the festival will take place in September, denied having an involvement with this change. Festival coordinator Mary Prichard explained that she didn’t think using the word “’Israel” would be problematic, but that they were trying to “keep life simple.”
"Children of Israel" has been changed to "Children of Kindness". Why opt to do a Jewish-themed song then remove the Jewish-themed lyric? pic.twitter.com/Ur3cdonprK
— Kate Dowling (@Kate_DowlingNZ) June 15, 2017
But then, things got hairier. After Rice accepted the Wellington City Council’s apology, the production team then cut “Close Every Door”—and two other songs from the show. “We always look to have music that covers and looks after kids from all countries, from all backgrounds,” Prichard said. “It was decided that small change of one word would be made. It’s obviously gone down like a lead balloon.” Rice was not having it.
— Sir Tim Rice (@SirTimRice) June 17, 2017
The Wellington City Council, which is a partial funder of the festival, responded with, “Apologies again—we’ve told the organisers (sic) today that the original songs must go back in the programme. This will happen!”
Prichard, who’s been with Artsplash for 30 years, later issued a lengthy apology on Facebook.
As TOI reported, “Stephen Goodman, president of the New Zealand Jewish Council, said the incident was a case of ‘people trying to be politically correct where it’s unnecessary to be so.'”