The eagerly-anticipated live-concert of Jesus Christ Superstar will arrive this Easter Sunday. Set to air on NBC at 8 PM (EST), the event will feature some of rock and pop music’s greatest talent including John Legend as the title character. Playing Mary Magdalene will be Sara Bareilles (Broadway’s Waitress) and Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas Iscariot. The cast will also feature Ben Daniels, Alice Cooper, Norm Lewis, and Erik Gronwall. Jesus Christ Superstar – Live in Concert will be directed by David Leveaux and Alex Rudzinski. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will serve as executive producers, as well Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice and Marc Platt.
Jesus Christ Superstar tells the story of the final week of the life Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of his disciple and ultimate betrayer, Judas Iscariot. Featuring a celebrated rock score by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics), Jesus Christ Superstar started out as a 1970 rock opera concept album. Its popularity soared and it wasn’t long before the piece was being shaped into a Broadway musical under the direction of Tom O’Horgan, premiering at Broadway’s Mark Hellinger Theatre on October 12, 1971. It ran for 711 performances.
Jesus Christ, Superstar features many well-known Webber/Rice songs including “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Heaven on Their Minds,” “Gethsemane,” “Everything’s Alright,” “Simon Zealotes,” “King Herod’s Song” and the infectious title number. The musical was turned into a film in 1973. 1977, 2000, and 2012 brought Broadway revivals of Jesus Christ Superstar. The 2000 stage production was filmed and aired on the PBS series Great Performances.
Live musical theatre events have become a trend in recent years, with The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz, Hairspray, Grease, and A Christmas Story among the titles that have come to the small screen. An announced, but postponed, production of Bye Bye Birdie starring Jennifer Lopez appears to still be in the works.
Mark Robinson is the author of the two-volume encyclopedia The World of Musicals and maintains a theater and entertainment blog at markrobinsonwrites.com