Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert on NBC
John Legend, Brandon Victor Dixon, Sara Bareilles & Alice Cooper will star in the live television special.
"What's the Buzz", musical fans? Well, our TV recommendation for this Easter weekend is, of course, the highly anticipated, star-studded Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, which is scheduled to air live on NBC from 8pm ET on Easter Sunday, April 1.
With legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber celebrating his 70th Birthday last week, it seems only fitting that he should be honored with this live television special of his 1970 landmark musical. The concert staging of Jesus Christ Superstar Live has garnered wide interest throughout the United States largely due to the casting of some of the music industry's top performers, so here's a quick rundown of a few of the principals hoping to prove their Superstar worth...
John Legend - The Academy Award and 10-time Grammy Award-winning singer is taking on the title role of Jesus and the gargantuan "Gethsemane" number. Mr. Legend has made a few forays into the world of acting over the course of his career, most notably playing the role of Keith in the hit movie musical "La La Land". He picked up an Oscar in 2015 for "Best Original Song" for the much-celebrated track "Glory" from the film "Selma" and he has released a total of six studio albums to date. Although yet to make a debut as a performer on the Great White Way, Mr. Legend obviously takes a keen interest in theatre, co-producing the off-Broadway productions of 3 MICS and Turn Me Loose and even winning a Tony Award last year as a producer on Manhattan Theatre Club's revival of August Wilson's Jitney. And if that wasn't enough, Mr. Legend also penned the song "(I Guess I) Miss You" for Broadway's favorite sponge, SpongeBob SquarePants, currently playing at the Palace Theatre.
Sara Bareilles - No stranger to Broadway, the Tony & six-time Grammy Award-nominated singer/songwriter is taking on the iconic role of Mary Magdalene and fans simply cannot wait to experience her rendition of the standard "I Don't Know How to Love Him". In the theatre community, Ms. Bareilles is best known for her Tony-nominated score for Broadway's hit musical Waitress, still wowing audiences at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. She even made her Broadway debut, assuming the lead role of Jenna from original cast member Jessie Mueller from March through to June in 2017, and played a return engagement from January through to March 11 this year. She has released a total of five studio albums to date, including "What's Inside: Songs from Waitress", and her Grammy nominations include "Song of the Year" in 2009 for "Love Song" and "Album of the Year" in 2014 for "The Blessed Unrest". And, oh yeah, like John Legend, she also wrote a song for SpongeBob SquarePants and it goes by the name of "Poor Pirates".
Alice Cooper - The two-time Grammy-nominated Rock legend will be putting his gothic spin on the role of King Herod, come April 1, and we are most intrigued to see what director David Leveaux will muster up for "King Herod's Song". Mr. Cooper also recently turned 70 years old and has enjoyed a multi-decade-spanning career in the music industry, releasing a grand total of 27 studio albums which led to an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. And who could ever forget his hilarious appearance in the 1992 hit comedy "Wayne's World"?... We're not worthy!... We're not worthy!
And, of course, when it comes to performing a top musical live for television, these titans of the music industry need to be backed up by some seasoned Broadway professionals:
Brandon Victor Dixon - The two-time Tony Award-nominated performer slips into the pivotal role of Judas Iscariot and receives the gift of the musical's most recognisable number "Superstar". Known to TV audiences for his role as Terry Silver on "Power", Mr. Dixon is well-established on the Broadway scene, earning his first Tony Award nomination in 2006 for originating the role of Harpo in The Color Purple. He has since starred as Berry Gordy in Motown The Musical, as Aaron Burr in Hamilton and earned a second Tony nomination in 2016 for his portrayal of Eubie Blake in Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed. Off-Broadway he has also starred as Haywood Patterson in the Vineyard Theatre's premiere of The Scottsboro Boys, as Tom Collins in Rent at New World Stages and, most recently, in Signature Theatre's 2017 production of The Red Letter Plays: F**king A.
Also look out for Tony Award nominee Norm Lewis as Caiaphas, Tony Award nominee Ben Daniels as Pontius Pilate, and Jin Ha (who recently made his Broadway debut as Song Liling in M. Butterfly) as Annas.
Jesus Christ Superstar began its life as a rock opera concept album with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, which was released in 1970. The Broadway premiere officially opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on October 12, 1971 and went on to earn 5 Tony Award nominations in 1972, closing after a grand total of 724 performances. It has been revived three times on the Great White Way - in 1977, in 2000, and, most recently, in 2012. The story follows the conflicted relationship between Jesus and Judas Iscariot during the final week of Jesus' life, leading to the crucifixion.
Check out these official production photos that are sure to whet your appetite for Sunday's live television special...
The New York Theatre Guide wishes you all a very pleasant Holiday weekend and happy viewing! Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert airs this Easter Sunday, April 1 from 8pm ET on NBC.
(Photos by Virginia Sherwood / NBC)