I’m a bit late, I know, but I just saw Jesus Christ Superstar Live and it knocked my little socks off.
The NBC broadcast of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s rock opera aired Easter 2018 at 8 PM. Jesus Christ Superstar re-imagines the Easter story with Jesus as a superstar and Judas as his wary advisor. The Easter story goes like this: people love Jesus, Judas betrays Jesus, people turn against Jesus, Jesus dies. Despite your religious beliefs, you have to admit that the Easter story has one hell of a Dark Night of the Soul: Jesus’ fans and followers indict him to the slowest, most painful death possible, Judas hangs himself and Jesus’ disciples flee for their lives. Good thing everybody gets eternal life at the end. Jesus Christ Superstar is not a lighthearted, feel good romp. It is a passionate, emotional powerhouse.
Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice revolutionized musical theater. Jesus Christ Superstar was Andrew Lloyd Weber’s second musical. You can hear traces of Evita, Phantom of the Opera and even The Lion King in its score. The 1970 Broadway production spawned a very 70’s film in 1973.
The 2018 production brings the show to gritty life with a diverse cast (obviously) featuring the majestic vocals of John Legend, Sarah Bareilles, Brandon Victor Dixon, and others. Rory Powers dressed the cast in goth- punk rags and tats, with the higher- ups wearing stiff, structured garments. But my hat goes off to Jason Ardizzone-West’s production design.
Audience members surround the big, open stage, built on stilts over sand. Ragged tenements, gritty graffiti and forgotten frescoes border the stage. The last shot, where the fresco opens up to make a cross, took my breath away. The production has an eerie, post- apocalyptic vibe. Think Mad Max meets Lady Gaga’s “Judas”music video. I love it when artists compare the modern age to Ancient Rome. Take heed, people.
Miss the broadcast? Watch in on Hulu. More services will likely offer Jesus Christ Superstar Live as it gets older.
I looked up these things while watching the show. Here they are for you, all in one place, in case you wondered the same things.
- “Overture” – Orchestra
- “Heaven on Their Minds” – Judas
- “What’s the Buzz?” – Jesus, Apostles
- “Strange Thing Mystifying” – Judas, Jesus, Apostles
- “Everything’s Alright” – Mary, Judas, Jesus, Women, Apostles
- “This Jesus Must Die” – Caiaphas, Annas, Priests
- “Hosanna” – Jesus, Caiaphas and Company
- “Simon Zealotes” – Simon and Company
- “Poor Jerusalem” – Jesus
- “Pilate’s Dream” – Pilate
- “The Temple” – Jesus, Ensemble
- “Everything’s Alright (reprise)” – Mary, Jesus
- “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” – Mary
- “Damned For All Time” – Judas
- “Blood Money” – Caiaphas, Annas, Judas, Choir
- “The Last Supper” – Jesus, Judas, Apostles
- “Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)” – Jesus
- “The Arrest” – Judas, Jesus, Peter, Apostles, Annas, Caiaphas, Ensemble
- “Peter’s Denial” – Maid by the Fire, Peter, Soldier, Old Man, Mary
- “Pilate and Christ” – Pilate, Soldier, Jesus, Ensemble
- “King Herod’s Song” – Herod and Company
- “Could We Start Again Please?” – Mary and Peter
- “Judas’ Death” – Judas, Annas, Caiaphas, Ensemble
- “Trial Before Pilate” – Pilate, Caiaphas, Jesus, Ensemble
- “Superstar” – Judas, Soul Sisters, Angels
- “The Crucifixion” – Jesus, Ensemble
- “John Nineteen: Forty-One” – Orchestra
Jesus- John Legend
Known For: Singing “All Of Me”; married to Chrissy Tiegen; playing the piano
Judas- Brandon Victor Dixon
Known For: Playing Aaron Burr in “Hamilton”; calling out Mike Pence at the November 2016 show. Just bask in the poetic justice of the same guy playing Judas AND Aaron Burr.
Mary Magdalene- Sara Bareilles
Known For: That song [I’m not gonna write you a] “Love Song”
Known For: The Exorcist, Rogue One, Broadway
Known For- Broadway: playing Javert in Les Miserables; being the first black actor to play The Phantom Of The Opera
That Blonde Guy That Jumps On Stuff (aka Simon Zealotes) – Erik Grönwall
Known For: Won Swedish Idol in 2009, performs hard rock/ heavy metal solo and with the band H.E.A.T.
Herod- Alice Cooper
Known For: Shock rock, looking like this:
Pharisee Annas- Jin Ha
Peter- Jason Tam
Known For: Broadway
Known For: Playing Song Liling, the female- originated role of an opera singer in Julie Taymor’s revival of Madame Butterfly