Joseph and the amazing disappearing Israel reference
The Wellington City Council has apologised to Sir Tim Rice after the word "Israel" vanished from song sheets featuring the renowned lyricist's work.
The printed lyrics – with a modified version of Close Every Door from Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – were prepared for this year's annual Wellington children's festival, Artsplash.
In song sheets distributed to Wellington schools taking part in Artsplash, the phrase "Children of Israel" was changed to "Children of Kindness".
The alteration was highlighted on Twitter by Kate Dowling, who asked: "Why opt to do a Jewish-themed song then remove the Jewish-themed lyric?"
* Israel missing from atlases sold to Middle East schools
* Sir Tim Rice: the nicest guy in showbusiness
* Anti-Semitism on rise in New Zealand, Jewish leader says
* Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat
* Students make a splash
The tweet prompted a "please explain" response from Rice, who said on Friday "Permission [was] not given" for the change.
He also described the change as "a terribly meaningless and drippy alteration".
Artsplash, held in September, is part-funded by Wellington City Council but council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council had no involvement in printing the lyrics and no idea why they had been changed.
However, the council also took to Twitter to apologise to Rice, telling him a "community coordinator made an error in judgement which we will rectify before the schoolkids perform in Sept. Sorry, we love your work."
That appeared to appease the multi-award-winning Englishman, who responded: "Many thanks. I greatly appreciate your generous and speedy correction."
MacLean said the council "could only speculate as to why someone had decided that the word 'Israel' should be expunged" from the festival lyrics.
Artsplash Coordinator Mary Prichard said organisers made the decision to remove the word Israel to "keep life simple" at a festival for primary school children.
But as a result of the complaints about the lyric changes, Artsplash had removed Close Every Door and two other Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat songs from its programme.
"It's not worth going there. It's not worth looking for trouble," Prichard said.
A community coordinator made an error in judgement which we will rectify before the schoolkids perform in Sept. Sorry, we love your work.— Wgtn City Council (@WgtnCC) June 16, 2017
"We always look to have music that covers and looks after kids from all countries, from all backgrounds. It was decided that small change of one word would be made. It's obviously gone down like a lead ballon."
The president of the Jewish Council, Stephen Goodman, said the lyric change was an example of "people trying to be politically correct where it's unnecessary to be so".
The Bible refers to Jacob's name being changed to "Israel" so the lines in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat – a musical about his life –were a literal reference to his children, Goodman said.
Many thanks. I greatly appreciate your generous and speedy correction. TR— Sir Tim Rice (@SirTimRice) June 16, 2017