Jesus Christ Superstar

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Jesus Christ Superstar
Jcs us cover.png
Album cover for the 1970 American release of Jesus Christ Superstar
Music Andrew Lloyd Webber
Lyrics Tim Rice

2017 Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Jesus Christ Superstar is a 1970 rock opera with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. The musical started as a rock opera concept album before its Broadway debut in 1971. The musical is mostly sung-through, with little spoken dialogue. The story is loosely based on the Gospels' accounts of the last week of Jesus's life, beginning with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem and ending with the crucifixion. It depicts political and interpersonal struggles between Judas Iscariot and Jesus that are not present in the Bible.

A rock opera is a collection of rock music songs with lyrics that relate to a common story. Rock operas are typically released as concept albums and are not scripted for acting, which distinguishes them from operas, although several have been adapted as rock musicals. The use of various character roles within the song lyrics is a common storytelling device. The success of the rock opera genre has inspired similar works in other musical styles, such as rap opera.

Andrew Lloyd Webber British composer

Andrew Lloyd Webber, Baron Lloyd-Webber is an English composer and impresario of musical theatre. Several of his musicals have run for more than a decade both in the West End and on Broadway. He has composed 13 musicals, a song cycle, a set of variations, two film scores, and a Latin Requiem Mass. Several of his songs have been widely recorded and were hits outside of their parent musicals, notably "The Music of the Night" and "All I Ask of You" from The Phantom of the Opera, "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar, "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" from Evita, "Any Dream Will Do" from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and "Memory" from Cats. In 2001 The New York Times referred to him as "the most commercially successful composer in history". Ranked the "fifth most powerful person in British culture" by The Daily Telegraph in 2008, the lyricist Don Black stated "Andrew more or less single-handedly reinvented the musical."

Tim Rice British lyricist and author

Sir Timothy Miles Bindon Rice is an English author and lyricist. He is best known for his collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, with whom he wrote Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita; with Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson of ABBA, with whom he wrote Chess; for additional songs for the 2011 West End revival of The Wizard of Oz; and for his work with Alan Menken on Disney's Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and the musical King David. He also worked with Elton John on Disney's The Lion King, the musical Aida, and DreamWorks Animation's The Road to El Dorado and Ennio Morricone.


The work's depiction offers a free interpretation of the psychology of Jesus and other characters. Much of the plot centers on Judas, who is dissatisfied with the direction in which Jesus is steering his disciples.

Contemporary attitudes, sensibilities, and slang pervade the rock-opera's lyrics, and ironic allusions to modern life are scattered throughout the depiction of political events. Stage and film productions accordingly contain many intentional anachronisms.

Anachronism chronological inconsistency

An anachronism is a chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of persons, events, objects, or customs from different periods of time. The most common type of anachronism is an object misplaced in time, but it may be a verbal expression, a technology, a philosophical idea, a musical style, a material, a plant or animal, a custom, or anything else associated with a particular period in time that is placed outside its proper temporal domain.


Act I

Judas Iscariot, a member of the Twelve Apostles, voices concern over Jesus's rising popularity and the negative repercussions that it will have, criticizing Jesus for accepting his followers' unrealistic beliefs ("Heaven on Their Minds"). While Judas loves Jesus, he believes that he is just a man, not God, and worries that his following will be seen as a threat to the Roman Empire, which would severely punish Jesus, his associates, and possibly all Jewish people. Judas's warning goes unheeded, as Jesus's followers have their minds set on going to Jerusalem with Jesus. When they ask Jesus for information about his plans for the future, Jesus refuses to give them any, since whatever will happen is determined by God ("What's the Buzz").

Judas Iscariot one of the original Twelve Disciples of Jesus Christ, known for betrayal of Jesus

Judas Iscariot(; Biblical Hebrew: יהודה‎, romanized: Yehûdâh, lit. 'God is praised'; Greek: Ὶούδας Ὶσκαριώτης) was a disciple and one of the original Twelve Disciples of Jesus Christ. According to all four canonical gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane by kissing him and addressing him as "rabbi" to reveal his identity to the crowd who had come to arrest him. His name is often used synonymously with betrayal or treason. Judas's epithet Iscariot most likely means he came from the village of Kerioth, but this explanation is not universally accepted and many other possibilities have been suggested.

Jesus Central figure of Christianity

Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.

Roman Empire Period of Imperial Rome following the Roman Republic (27 BC–476 AD)

The Roman Empire was the post-Roman Republic period of the ancient Roman civilization. Ruled by emperors, it had large territorial holdings around the Mediterranean Sea in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. From the constitutional reforms of Augustus to the military anarchy of the third century, the Empire was a principate ruled from Italy, homeland of the Romans and metropole of the empire, with the city of Rome as capital. The Roman Empire was then ruled by multiple emperors and divided in a Western Roman Empire, based in Milan and later Ravenna, and an Eastern Roman Empire, based in Nicomedia and later Constantinople. Rome remained the nominal capital of both parts until 476 AD, when Odoacer deposed Romulus Augustus after capturing Ravenna and the Senate of Rome sent the imperial regalia to Constantinople. The fall of the Western Roman Empire to barbarian kings, along with the hellenization of the Eastern Roman Empire into the Byzantine Empire, is conventionally used to mark the end of Ancient Rome and the beginning of the Middle Ages.

Recognizing that Jesus is irritated by the badgering and lack of understanding from his followers, Mary Magdalene tries to help Jesus relax. Judas does not like how it looks, though he does not object to her being a prostitute. It seems to Judas that Jesus is contradicting his own teaching, and he worries that this apparent lack of judgment will be used against Jesus and his followers ("Strange Thing Mystifying"). Jesus tells Judas that Mary is with him now, and unless Judas is without sin he should not judge the character of others. Jesus then reproaches the rest of the apostles and bitterly complains that not a single one of them truly cares if he comes or goes. Mary Magdalene tries to reassure Jesus while anointing him with oil ("Everything's Alright"). Judas angrily insists that the money spent on oil could have been used to help the poor. Sadly, Jesus answers that they simply do not have the resources to end poverty, and that they should be glad for what comforts they have, including himself; therefore, he warns Judas that he will be sorry when Jesus is gone.

Mary Magdalene Follower of Jesus

Mary Magdalene, sometimes called simply the Magdalene or the Madeleine, was a Jewish woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the apostles. Mary's epithet Magdalene most likely means that she came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

In a religious context, sin is a conscience (consciousness) that makes man act in transgression against divine law. In Islamic ethics, Muslims see sin as anything that goes against the commands of Allah (God). Judaism regards the violation of any of the 613 commandments as a sin.

Anointing of Jesus

The anointing of Jesus’s head or feet are events recorded in the four gospels. The account in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12 has as its location the city of Bethany in the south and involves Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The event in Luke features an unknown sinful woman, and is in the northern region, as Luke 7 indicates Jesus was ministering in the northern regions of Nain and Capernaum. The honorific anointing with perfume is an action frequently mentioned in other literature from the time; however, using long hair to dry Jesus's feet, as in John and Luke, is not recorded elsewhere, and should be regarded as an exceptional gesture. Considerable debate has discussed the identity of the woman, the location, timing, and the message.

Meanwhile, Caiaphas, the High Priest of Israel, assembles the Pharisees together at the Sanhedrin to talk about Jesus and his disciples. According to the Pharisees, Jesus's growing following consists of Jews unwilling to accept the Romans as their rulers, and the priests believe that Jesus may come to be seen as a threat to the Roman Empire, and to the priesthood's integrity; if the Romans retaliate, many Jews will suffer, even those who are not following Jesus. Caiaphas then concludes that there could be great bloodshed and suggests that they kill him for the greater good, and the Pharisees concur upon his decision ("This Jesus Must Die"). As Jesus and his followers arrive exultantly in Jerusalem, they are confronted by Caiaphas, who demands that Jesus should postpone the parade, which Jesus says would be futile and change nothing, and he proceeds to greet the happy Israelites instead ("Hosanna"). As the crowd cheers him on, they suddenly ask Jesus if he would die for them. To this, Jesus visibly reacts with concern. Then, one of his apostles, Simon the Zealot, suggests that Jesus lead his mob in a war against Rome and gain absolute power ("Simon Zealotes"). Jesus rejects this suggestion, stating that none of his followers understand what true power is, nor do they understand his true message ("Poor Jerusalem").

Caiaphas Office of High Priest

Joseph ben Caiaphas, known simply as Caiaphas in the New Testament, was the Jewish high priest who, according to the gospels, organized a plot to kill Jesus. He famously presided over the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus. The primary sources for Caiaphas' life are the New Testament and the writings of Josephus. Outside of his interactions with Jesus, little else is known about his tenure as high priest.

High priest was the title of the chief religious official of Judaism from the early post-Exilic times until the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE. Previously, in the Israelite religion including the time of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, other terms were used to designate the leading priests; however, as long as a king was in place, the supreme ecclesiastical authority lay with him. The official introduction of the term "high priest" went hand in hand with a greatly enhanced ritual and political significance bestowed upon the chief priest in the post-Exilic period, certainly from 411 BCE onward, after the religious transformations brought about by the Babylonian captivity and due to the lack of a Jewish king and kingdom.

The Pharisees were a social movement and a school of thought in the Holy Land during the time of Second Temple Judaism. After the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE, Pharisaic beliefs became the foundational, liturgical and ritualistic basis for Rabbinic Judaism.

Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, has a dream in which he meets with a Galilean (in the form of Jesus) and then receives all of the blame for the man's violent and mournful death, predicting the rise of Christianity ("Pilate's Dream"). Jesus arrives at the Temple in Jerusalem and finds that it has become a haven of sin and debauchery as it is being used for selling everything from usury and weapons to prostitutes and drugs; angered by this, Jesus drives everyone out ("The Temple"). A group of lepers begin to chime up to Jesus for healing. Even though he heals some, their number increases, and he is overwhelmed. Unable to solve everyone's problems, Jesus screams at them to heal themselves until he finds Mary Magdalene by his side, laying him to rest ("Everything's Alright (Reprise)"). While Jesus is asleep, Mary acknowledges that she is unconditionally in love with him, unlike any man she has known before, and it frightens her ("I Don't Know How to Love Him").

Pontius Pilate was the fifth Prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, from AD 26–36

Pontius Pilate was the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judaea, serving under Emperor Tiberius from AD 26/27 to 36/37. He is known for adjudicating on the trial and crucifixion of Jesus.

Generically, a Galilean is an inhabitant of Galilee. The New Testament notes that the Apostle Peter's accent gave him away as a Galilean. The Galilean dialect referred to in the New Testament was a form of Jewish Aramaic spoken by people in Galilee from the late Second Temple period (530 BCE) through the Apostolic Age (c. 100 CE). Later the term was used to refer to the early Christians by Roman emperors Julian and Marcus Aurelius, among others.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers.

Conflicted, Judas seeks out the Pharisees and promises to help them arrest Jesus, believing that he is acting with unselfish motives and that Jesus himself would approve if he knew those motives ("Damned for All Time"). Sustaining his testimony, Caiaphas and Annas ask that Judas reveal the location of Jesus so that the authorities can apprehend him. In exchange for the information, Judas is offered thirty pieces of silver as a fee so that he can assuage his conscience by using the money charitably ("Blood Money"). Judas decides that it would be better to turn Jesus in before his popularity leads to the deaths of him and his followers, Judas included. He reveals that on Thursday night, Jesus will be at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Act II

At what Jesus knows will be the Last Supper, he pours wine and passes bread for his apostles ("The Last Supper"). Very aware of the ordeal he faces, he is stung when the others pay little attention to him; he remarks that the wine might as well be his blood and the bread his body, alluding to (and anticipating) the Christian doctrine of the Eucharist. He asks them to remember him when they eat and drink; he predicts that Peter will deny him three times in just a few hours and that one of them will betray him. Judas, believing that Jesus already knows, admits that he is the one and angrily accuses Jesus of acting recklessly and egotistically. Claiming he does not understand Jesus's decisions, he leaves to bring the Roman soldiers.

The remaining apostles fall asleep, and Jesus retreats to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray ("Gethsemane"). He admits to God his doubts, fears, and anger; that he is tired and has done all he can. He asks if any of it has meaning and implores God not let him suffer the horrible death that portends for him. He feels disillusioned with his quest as the Messiah, does not understand what it has achieved, and wishes to give up. Receiving no answer, Jesus realises that he cannot defy God's will, and surrenders to God. His prayer ends with a request that God take him immediately, before he changes his mind.

Finally, Judas arrives with Roman soldiers and identifies Jesus by kissing him on the cheek ("The Arrest"). While Jesus is being arrested, his apostles attempt to fight the soldiers, but Jesus tells them to let the soldiers take him to Caiaphas. On the way, a mob (acting like—and sometimes represented as—modern-day news reporters) asks Jesus what he plans to do, but Jesus declines to comment. When Jesus is brought to trial before the Sanhedrin, Caiaphas demands to know if he is the King of the Jews, and Jesus responds that that's what they say he is. This answer is affirmative according to Jewish custom, and that provides enough justification for the Pharisees to bring Jesus to Pilate. Meanwhile, Jesus's apostle Peter is confronted by an old man, a soldier and a maid, and Peter denies to each that he knows Jesus ("Peter's Denial"). Mary asks Peter why he denied Jesus, and Peter responds that he had to do it in order to save himself. Mary wonders how Jesus knew that Peter would deny him three times.

Later, Pilate asks Jesus if he is the King of the Jews. Jesus gives the same answer that he gave Caiaphas. Since Jesus is from Galilee, Pilate says that he is not under his jurisdiction and sends him to King Herod ("Pilate and Christ"). As Jesus is dragged away, the chorus asks where Jesus's power has gone. The decadent and flamboyant King Herod attempts to persuade Jesus into proving his divinity by performing miracles, offering to free him if he complies ("King Herod's Song (Try It And See)"), but Jesus ignores him. Herod decides that Jesus is just another phony messiah and angrily sends him back to Pilate. Meanwhile, Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the apostles remember when they first began following Jesus, and wish that they could return to a time of peace ("Could We Start Again, Please?"). [1]

Later, Judas is horrified upon beholding Jesus's harsh treatment by the authorities. Wracked with guilt, Judas expresses regret to the pharisees, fearing that he will forever be remembered as a traitor. Caiaphas and Annas assure him that what he has done now will save everyone and that he should not feel remorse for his actions. Judas recognizes that God chose him to be the one to betray Jesus, and that he has been used as a pawn. He curses God for manipulating him, and in a final attempt to detach himself from his destiny, he commits suicide by hanging himself from a tree ("Judas's Death").

At Jesus's trial, Pilate interrogates Jesus into revealing the whereabouts of his kingdom, but is cut off by a bloodthirsty mob which demands that Jesus should be sentenced to death by crucifixion. In spite of the mob's behavior, [2] Pilate remembers the dream that he had about the mob and the unjust execution of Jesus. He tells the mob that, while Jesus should be imprisoned, he does not deserve to die. Pilate demands that the crowd give him a reason to condemn Jesus, and the mob answers that Jesus is a blasphemer and has defied the Roman Empire. However, after revealing Jesus as nothing more than a pathetic human being, Pilate calls the crowd hypocrites, as he knows they hate Roman rule. Even so, he decides to satisfy their bloodlust by having Jesus flogged, counting thirty-nine bloody strokes ("Trial Before Pilate (Including The Thirty-Nine Lashes)"). Pilate, clearly disturbed by the whole ordeal, pleads with Jesus to defend himself, but Jesus says weakly that everything has been determined by God, and Pilate cannot change it. Even more outraged by Jesus's words, the crowd still calls for Jesus's death, informing Pilate that he has his duty to keep the peace. Finally, he reluctantly agrees to crucify Jesus to keep the crowd from getting violent, calling Jesus a self-destructive martyr before changing his mind and seeing him as an innocent puppet.

As Jesus's crucifixion awaits, he is haunted by the ghost of Judas, who taunts him and questions why Jesus chose to arrive in the manner and time that he did, and if what happened to him was really part of a divine plan, but Judas's questions go unanswered ("Superstar"). After reciting his final words and commending his spirit to God, Jesus slowly dies on the cross ("The Crucifixion"). In the end, the Apostles and Mary, mourning the death of their fallen saviour, reflect on the impact he has had on their lives ("John Nineteen: Forty-One").

Principal roles

Character Voice type Description
Jesus Christ tenor (A2–G5)Title role, leader of the twelve disciples, called the "Son of God" and the "King of the Jews."
Judas Iscariot tenor (D3–D5)One of the twelve apostles of Jesus; concerned for the poor and the consequences of Jesus's fame.
Mary Magdalene mezzo-soprano (F3–E5)A female follower of Jesus who finds herself falling in love with him.
Pontius Pilate tenor (A2–B4)Governor of Judea who foresees the events of Jesus's crucifixion from beginning to aftermath in a dream and finds himself being presented with that very situation.
Caiaphas bass (C2–F4)One of the main antagonists of the show. High priest who sees Jesus as a threat to the nation.
Annas countertenor (G2–D5)
The other main antagonist of the show. Fellow priest at the side of Caiaphas who is persuaded by Caiaphas into seeing Jesus as a threat.
Peter baritone (A2–G4)One of Jesus's twelve apostles; denies Jesus three times upon the night of Jesus's arrest to save himself.
Simon Zealotes tenor (G3–B4)One of Jesus's twelve apostles; urges Jesus to lead his followers into battle against the Romans.
King Herod baritone (C3–G4)The King of Galilee; Jesus is brought to him for judgment after first being taken to Pilate.


2 flutes, clarinet, 2 bassoons, 2 saxophones (one tenor), 6 horns, 4 trumpets, 2 trombones, drum set, percussion set, 6 guitars (1 acoustic, 2 electric, 4 bass), 5 pianos, electric piano, 3 organs, positive organ, and strings. Additional vocals are provided by a choir, a children's choir ("Overture"), and other singers ("Superstar"). [3]

Musical numbers


    The songs were first written and conceived as a concept album, before the musical was created and staged. [4] On the original album, the part of Jesus was sung by Ian Gillan, with Murray Head as Judas, Michael d'Abo as King Herod, Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene, and Barry Dennen as Pilate. In July 1971, the first authorised American concert of the rock opera took place in front of an audience of 13,000 people at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's Civic Arena with Jeff Fenholt singing the role of Jesus, Carl Anderson as Judas and Elliman repeating as Mary Magdalene. [5]

    Original Broadway production

    The musical opened on Broadway on 12 October 1971, directed by Tom O'Horgan, at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. It starred Jeff Fenholt as Jesus, Ben Vereen as Judas and Bob Bingham as Caiaphas. Dennen and Elliman played the roles[ which? ] that they had sung on the album. Kurt Yaghjian was Annas.[ citation needed ] Anderson replaced Vereen when he fell ill, and the two performers later took turns playing the role. The show closed on 30 June 1973 after 711 performances. The production received mixed reviews; the bold casting of African-Americans as Judas was lauded, but reviewer Clive Barnes from The New York Times said, "the real disappointment was not in the music ... but in the conception." [6] [7] The show was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Score, but won none. Lloyd Webber won a Drama Desk Award as "Most Promising Composer", and Vereen won a Theatre World Award.


    The Broadway show and subsequent productions were condemned by some religious groups. Tim Rice was quoted as saying "It happens that we don't see Christ as God but simply the right man at the right time at the right place." [8] [9] Some Christians considered such comments to be blasphemous, the character of Judas too sympathetic and some of his criticisms of Jesus offensive. [10] The musical's lack of allusion to the resurrection of Jesus has resulted in criticism similar to that of fellow musical Godspell , which also did not clearly depict the resurrection.

    At the same time, some Jews claimed that it bolstered the antisemitic belief that the Jews were responsible for Jesus' death by showing most of the villains as Jewish (Caiaphas and the other priests, Herod) and showing the crowd in Jerusalem calling for the crucifixion. [11] [12] The musical was banned in South Africa for being "irreligious". [13] A 1972 production of the play was banned in the Hungarian People's Republic for "distribution of religious propaganda". [14]

    Other 1970s and 1980s productions

    Paul Nicholas in Jesus Christ Superstar Paul Nicholas Allan Warren.jpg
    Paul Nicholas in Jesus Christ Superstar

    Superstar opened at the Palace Theatre in London in 1972, starring Paul Nicholas as Jesus, Stephen Tate as Judas and Dana Gillespie as Mary Magdalene. It was directed by Australian Jim Sharman. This production was much more successful than the original production on Broadway, running for eight years and becoming the United Kingdom's longest-running musical at the time. Dmitri Shostakovich attended this production in London just before his death. He regretted that he could not have composed something like it; he lauded especially a rock band underpinning full symphonic strings, brass and woodwind. [15]

    One of the earliest foreign productions was a five-day run in Sweden at Scandinavium in Gothenburg, opening on 18 February 1972 and playing to 74,000 people (a record at the time). Starring as Mary Magdalene was Agnetha Fältskog. On 16 March 1972 an oratorio version was performed at Memorial Drive Park in Adelaide, South Australia as part of the Adelaide Festival of the Arts. [16] This was followed in May by the first full Australian production, at the Capitol Theatre, Sydney, later moving to the Palais Theatre in Melbourne. [17] Sharman again directed, and the cast included Trevor White as Jesus, Jon English as Judas, and Michele Fawdon (1972–1973) and Marcia Hines (1973–1974) as Mary Magdalene. Hines was the first black woman to play the role. Other cast members included Reg Livermore, John Paul Young, Stevie Wright, and Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock, who met during the production and subsequently formed the band Air Supply. The production ran until February 1974.[ citation needed ] In June 1972 the show opened in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in Atelje 212 theatre, in adaptation by Jovan Ćirilov. [18] The role of Jesus Christ was played by Korni Grupa vocalist Zlatko Pejaković, the role of Mary Magdalene by Azra Halinović and the role of Pontius Pilate by Branko Milićević. [18] The premiere was directly broadcast by Radio Television of Belgrade. [18] Bora Đorđević and Srđan Marjanović, at the time little known musicians, also participated as members of the choir. [19] [20] The production was praised by the Yugoslav public. [18]

    In 1973, the show opened in Paris at the Théâtre de Chaillot in a French adaptation by Pierre Delanoë. The title role was sung by Daniel Beretta, and Mary Magdalena was Anne-Marie David. The critics were unimpressed, and the production stopped after 30 performances.[ citation needed ] In the same year, Noel Pearson produced the show at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, Republic of Ireland, with Luke Kelly giving a critically acclaimed performance as King Herod. [21] In 1974, first Spanish-language production ran in Mexico with the title "Jesucristo Super Estrella". Julissa played Mary Magdalen. The musical was seen in 1974 in Peru and Singapore. [22]

    Robert Stigwood launched two road touring companies in 1971 to cover North America, with Robert Corff and Tom Westerman as Jesus, respectively.[ citation needed ] The first major US National Tour, however began In 1976, managed by Laura Shapiro Kramer. The tour continued until 1980. In 1977, the show had its first Broadway revival, running from 23 November 1977 to 12 February 1978. It was directed by William Daniel Grey, with choreography by Kelly Carrol and starred William Daniel Grey as Jesus, Patrick Jude as Judas, and Barbara Niles as Mary Magdalene. [23] Regional productions followed.[ citation needed ]

    In 1981, Emilio de Soto directed an English-language version in Venezuela, with 163 actors.[ citation needed ] From 1982 to 1984, an Australian production toured Australia and South-East Asia, directed by Trevor White, who also reprised his role of Jesus. The cast included Doug Parkinson as Judas and Marcia Hines (reprising her role as Mary Magdalene).[ citation needed ]

    1990s and 2000s

    The North American touring revival of Superstar in 1992 starred Neeley and Anderson reprising their respective Broadway and 1973 film roles as Jesus and Judas, receiving positive reviews for their performances. This production also starred both Dennis DeYoung as Pilate, and Syreeta and Irene Cara sharing Mary Magdalene. Originally expected to run for three to four months, the tour ended up running for five years. Original cast replacements to this tour included Christine Rea as Mary Magdalene, Jason Raize as Pontius Pilate and Simone as the Maid by the Fire and understudy for Mary. In 1994, a New Zealand production starred Darryl Lovegrove as Jesus, Jay Laga'aia as Judas and Frankie Stevens as Caiaphas. Also in 1994, a stage version titled Jesus Christ Superstar: A Resurrection was performed in Atlanta, Austin and Seattle featuring Amy Ray as Jesus, Emily Saliers as Mary Magdalene and Michael Lorant as Judas.

    In 1996, the musical was revived in London at the Lyceum Theatre and ran for a year and a half. Directed by Gale Edwards, it starred Steve Balsamo and Zubin Varla as Jesus and Judas, and Joanna Ampil as Mary Magdalene and Alice Cooper as King Herod. The production was nominated for a Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival but did not win. It was followed by a UK tour. This production was revived on Broadway at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 2000, starring Glenn Carter as Jesus and Tony Vincent as Judas. It opened to mixed reviews and ran for 161 performances. [24] It was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical but did not win. In 2002, a national tour starred Sebastian Bach as Jesus and Anderson once again as Judas. Bach received mixed reviews while Anderson was again praised. In April 2003, Bach was replaced by Eric Kunze. Anderson left the show later in 2003 after being diagnosed with leukaemia and died in 2004. The tour closed shortly after Anderson's departure.

    In 2004 a year-long UK tour began, directed by Bob Tomson and Bill Kenwright. Carter reprised his role as Jesus, with James Fox as Judas. In 2005, a successful Scandinavian tour starred Australian Peter Murphy (Jesus), American Kristen Cummings (Mary), Englishman Jon Boydon née Stokes (Judas), Frenchman Jérôme Pradon (King Herod) and Australian Michael-John Hurney (Pilate). A US tour starring Neeley, reprising his role as Jesus, Corey Glover as Judas, and Christine Rea as Mary, began in 2006 and played for five years. A Chilean heavy metal version has played annually in Santiago since 2004. [25] In Boston, Gary Cherone portrayed Jesus in productions in 1994, 1996 and 2003 and Judas in 2000.


    A new production of Jesus Christ Superstar was mounted at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in Stratford, Ontario, in 2011. Directed by Des McAnuff, the cast starred Paul Nolan as Jesus, Josh Young as Judas, Brent Carver as Pilate, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene, Bruce Dow as Herod and Melissa O'Neil as Martha. This moved to La Jolla Playhouse later in the year and transferred to the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway in 2012, with Tom Hewitt taking over the role of Pilate. [26] Reviews were mixed. [27] [28] The revival was nominated for two Tonys: Best Revival and, for Young, Best Actor. [29] Neither award was won, but Young won a Theatre World Award. The revival closed after 116 performances and 24 previews. [30]

    Through a 2012 ITV competition TV show called Superstar , produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the UK public chose Ben Forster for the role of Jesus in an arena tour of the musical, beginning at O2 in September 2012. [31] [4] The production also starred Tim Minchin as Judas, Melanie C as Mary Magdalene and Chris Moyles as King Herod. [32] Lloyd Webber stated, "The funny thing is that Jesus Christ Superstar [as a rock concert] is what we actually intended it to be. When it is done in a conventional proscenium theatre production it feels shoe-horned in. That is why I wanted to do this." [4] The tour resumed in March 2013 in the UK, and an Australian leg of the tour commenced in Perth in May 2013. [33] Andrew O'Keefe played King Herod in Australia, with Jon Stevens as Pilate. Stevens had played Judas in an Australian arena tour in 1992. [34] [35]

    In 2016, celebrating 45 years since the musical debuted on Broadway, Jesus Christ Superstar returned to London at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre, directed by Timothy Sheader. The production won the BBC Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, [36] and a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival. [37] The production returned to the Open Air Theatre as part of the 2017 season, running from 11 August 2017 to 23 September. [38] Additionally, the Lyric Opera of Chicago hosted a run of the Regent's Park production from late April 2018 to late May 2018 and will tour the US from November 2019. [39] It will also return to London at the Barbican Centre from 4 July to 24 August 2019.

    Notable international productions

    2013 production in Rotterdam, Netherlands Project JCS.JPG
    2013 production in Rotterdam, Netherlands

    Two notable Jesuses were Takeshi Kaga, in the 1976 Japanese production, and Camilo Sesto in the 1975 Spanish production[ why? ]. Mary Magdalene was Rocío Banquells in a 1981 production in Mexico. A Czech version premiered in 1994 in Prague's Spirála Theatre and ran until 1998, with 1288 performances. [40] In the 2000s, a Venezuelan production ran for two years (2006–2008), directed by Michel Hausmann. A Spanish production produced by Stage Entertainment ran from 2007 to 2009, followed by long-running productions in Italy and Sweden (featuring Ola Salo) and Norway.

    Concerts of the show have been mounted in Vienna, Austria, since 1981, including one on Easter of 2015 starring Drew Sarich in the title role. [41]

    In 2010, an Australian production presented by Harvest Rain Theatre Company was directed by Tim O'Connor. Luke Kennedy appeared as Jesus, Naomi Price as Mary, Tod Strike as Judas, and Steven Tandy as Herod. A 2017 Professional Australian Production was staged at the Arts Centre Melbourne and starred Rob Mills as Jesus.

    A 2014 production in São Paulo, Brazil starred Igor Rickli as Jesus. Negra Li was Mary Magdalene. [42] A 2014 production in Lima, Peru, at the Sarita Colonia prison, as part of a rehabilitation program for inmates, received some press. [43] Eighty prisoners mounted the production, directed by inmate Freddy Battifora, who also played the role of Jesus. [44] The Catholic Church approved of the production. [44]

    Recordings and radio broadcasts

    The original 1970 concept album was very popular; its 1971 release topped the US Billboard Pop Albums. [45] The 1972 and 1992 Australian cast recordings were also both highly successful. [46]

    In 1994, a studio recording under the name of Jesus Christ Superstar: A Resurrection was released.

    A 1996 radio production for BBC Radio 2 starred Tony Hadley as Jesus, Roger Daltrey as Judas, Frances Ruffelle as Mary Magdalene and Julian Clary as King Herod; this production was re-broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra on 6 August 2016. [47]

    In May 2018, Aztec Records released a 1973 live recording of the Australian production; previous recordings of that production were released as "bootleg" copies. [48]


    A film adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar was released in 1973 and was the eighth highest-grossing film of that year. The film, directed by Norman Jewison, was shot in Israel [49] and other Middle Eastern locations. Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson and Yvonne Elliman were each nominated for a Golden Globe Award for their portrayals of Jesus, Judas and Mary Magdalene, respectively. Bob Bingham (Caiaphas) and Barry Dennen (Pilate) also reprised their roles. A new song, called "Then We Are Decided" and phrased as a dialogue between Caiaphas and Annas, was written and composed for this adaptation.

    A second adaptation was filmed in 1999, and released around the world on video in 2000 and 2001. [50] It starred Glenn Carter as Jesus, Jérôme Pradon as Judas, Reneé Castle as Mary Magdalene, and Rik Mayall as Herod, and was directed by Gale Edwards and Nick Morris. It was released on video in the UK in October 2000. [51] In the U.S. it was released on VHS and DVD in March 2001, and aired on PBS's Great Performances series in April 2001. [52] It won the International Emmy Award for Best Performing Arts Film in November 2001. [53] The style of the film is more like the stage version than the location-based 1973 adaptation, and it used many of the ideas from the 1996–1999 UK production. [50]


    On Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, NBC aired a live concert version of the show featuring John Legend as Jesus, Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene, Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, Alice Cooper as King Herod, Norm Lewis as Caiaphas, Ben Daniels as Pilate, Jin Ha as Annas, Erik Grönwall as Simon Zealotes and Jason Tam as Peter. [54]

    Principal roles and casting history

    Character Concept Album
    (1970) [55]
    (1971) [56]
    West End
    (1972) [57]
    (1973) [58]
    Broadway Revival
    (1977) [59]
    West End Revival
    (1996) [60]
    (2000) [61]
    Broadway Revival
    (2000) [62]
    Broadway Revival
    (2012) [63]
    UK Arena Tour


    Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

    (2016) [64]

    Live in Concert
    (2018) [65]
    Jesus Christ Ian Gillan Jeff Fenholt Paul Nicholas Ted Neeley William Daniel Grey Steve Balsamo
    Glenn Carter
    Paul Alexander Nolan Ben Forster Declan Bennett John Legend
    Judas Iscariot Murray Head Ben Vereen Stephen Tate Carl Anderson Patrick Jude Zubin Varla Jérôme Pradon Tony Vincent Josh Young Tim Minchin Tyrone Huntley Brandon Victor Dixon
    Mary Magdalene
    Yvonne Elliman
    Dana Gillespie Yvonne Elliman Barbara Niles Joanna Ampil Reneé Castle Maya Days Chilina Kennedy Melanie C Maimuna Memon Sara Bareilles
    Caiaphas Victor Brox Bob Bingham George Harris Bob Bingham Christopher CablePeter Gallagher
    Frederick B. Owens
    Marcus NancePete GallagherPhillip Browne Norm Lewis
    Pontius Pilate
    Barry Dennen
    John Parker Barry Dennen Randy WilsonDavid BurtFred Johanson Kevin Gray Tom Hewitt Alexander Hanson David Thaxton Ben Daniels
    Annas Brian Keith Kurt Yaghjian Jimmy Cassidy Kurt Yaghjian Steve SchochetMartin CallaghanMichael ShaefferRay Walker Aaron Walpole Gerard BentallSean KingsleyJin Ha
    Simon Zealotes John Gustafson Dennis BuckleyDerek James Larry Marshall Bobby London Glenn Carter Tony Vincent Michael K. Lee Lee Siegel Giovanni Spano Tim Newman Erik Grönwall
    Peter Paul DavisMichael JasonRichard Barnes Philip Toubus Randy MartinJonathan HartCavin Cornwall Rodney Hicks Mike NadajewskiMichael PickeringPhil King Jason Tam
    King Herod Mike d'Abo Paul Ainsley Paul Jabara Josh Mostel Mark SyersNick Holder
    (Alice Cooper in cast recording)
    Rik Mayall Paul Kandel Bruce Dow Chris Moyles Peter Caulfield Alice Cooper

    Awards and nominations

    Original Broadway production

    YearAward ceremonyCategoryNomineeResult
    1972 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Ben Vereen Nominated
    Best Original Score Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice Nominated
    Best Scenic Design Robin Wagner Nominated
    Best Costume Design Randy Barceló Nominated
    Best Lighting Design Jules Fisher Nominated
    Drama Desk Award Most Promising Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber Won
    Theatre World Award Ben Vereen Won

    1996 London revival

    YearAward ceremonyCategoryNomineeResult
    1997 Laurence Olivier Award Best Musical Revival Nominated

    2000 Broadway revival

    YearAward ceremonyCategoryNomineeResult
    2000 Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical Nominated

    2012 Broadway revival

    2012 Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical Nominated
    Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Josh Young Nominated
    Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Musical Nominated
    Outstanding Sound Design Steve Canyon KennedyNominated
    Theatre World Award Josh Young Won

    2016 London revival

    YearAward ceremonyCategoryNomineeResult
    2016 Evening Standard Theatre Awards Best MusicalWon
    Emerging Talent Tyrone Huntley Won
    2017 Awards Best Musical RevivalNominated
    Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalTyrone HuntleyNominated
    Best ChoreographyDrew McOnieNominated
    2017 Laurence Olivier Awards Best Musical Revival Won
    Best Actor in a Musical Tyrone HuntleyNominated
    Best Theatre Choreographer Drew McOnieNominated
    Best Lighting Design Lee CurranNominated
    Best Sound Design Nick Lidster for AutographNominated
    Outstanding Achievement in Music The band and company for creating the gig-like rock vibe of the original concept album of Jesus Christ SuperstarNominated

    Further reading

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