Sara Bareilles and John Legend go live for Easter Sunday
Don’t know about you, but I’ve been thrilled to see a revival of musicals that you can watch *outside* the theater--this time in live television broadcasts.
I’m a huge theater fan, and my friends are huge theater fans, but this next one somehow escaped us: This Sunday, NBC will present a live concert of Jesus Christ Superstar at 8 PM with John Legend, Sara Bareilles and Alice Cooper. Judas is played by Brandon Dixon, best known for Hamilton.
If you’re not familiar, the score of Jesus Christ Superstar is GORGEOUS.
It’s a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber (Phantom of the Opera) with a pretty cool history. You might want to spend a few minutes listening to the original 1970 concept album. It’s very much ‘of its time’, but you can expect the orchestrations from this Sunday might be modernized to better reflect today’s pop--in a preview interview clip, Lloyd Webber says it’s very important the show feel current to the time in which it’s performed.
As for plot: Wikipedia says the show is ‘loosely based on the Gospels’ accounts of the last week of Jesus’s life’. The opportunity for Legend and Dixon to show off their vocals this Sunday will be huge. The piece is full of giant, dramatic, lengthy rock ballads that aren’t always easy to sing, but sound great in the right hands--and seeing them done live is always way more impressive. The timing, of course, is perfect. Most of the live musicals we’ve seen over the past few years were done during the Christmas season, but this one was scheduled for Easter.
I’m especially excited to see a modern *cast*. The tour that came through Binghamton a few years ago featured Ted Neeley, who played Jesus in the 1973 movie. Although Neeley is pretty amazing (and always stays after the show to greet hundreds and hundreds of fans, which is also impressive), a modern-sounding pop opera needs modern voices that instinctively know how to make a song sound current.
This version is performed ‘in concert’, which is usually an excuse to spend less money on sets, although you can be sure there will likely be a bunch of choreography and fancy costumes. Let me know what you think after Sunday’s broadcast @JoshuaBernardNY.