John Legend to Play Jesus in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live
Whether or not it was the Power of Christ that compelled them to do it, NBC is elevating Grammy Award-winning musician John Legend (La La Land, Underground) to “Son of God” status as Jesus Christ in the network’s upcoming live musical remake of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert!.
Under the direction of famed British theater director David Leveaux, the Easter Sunday 2018 production also stars legendary rock star Alice Cooper as King Herod. Webber, Rice, Marc Platt, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron will serve as executive producers.
Having released five studio albums so far during his musical career, including 2016’s Darkness and Light, Legend has also been slowly venturing into dramatic acting. For his part, he sees his leading role in NBC’s production as an honor that he plans to do right by:
“It’s such a powerful, meaningful musical and I’m humbled to be part of this performance. We’ve already formed an incredible team, and, as we finish casting, I’m certain we will put together some of the greatest talents around to do this work justice.”
The original Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar starred Jeff Fenholt as Jesus of Nazareth, and ran from October 1971 through July 1973. Director Norman Jewison helmed a film version of the rock opera in 1973, starring Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson as Jesus and Judas, respectively; with both receiving Golden Globes nominations in 1974 for their performances. Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert! continues NBC’s most recent run of live musical specials, which has also included The Sound of Music Live, Peter Pan Live! and The Wiz Live!.
“We’re all overjoyed to have world-class musical artist and producer John Legend starring as Jesus. This score demands a singer with an amazing range and an actor with great depth, and there isn’t anyone better to bring this story to a new audience. His casting is also ground-breaking as the traditional image of Christ will be seen in a new way.” – Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment
From executive producers Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Marc Platt, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron comes NBC’s next live musical spectacular, the groundbreaking rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar LIVE!” Set during the final week of Jesus’ life, the story is told from the perspective of infamous betrayer Judas Iscariot. As more and more followers flock to Jesus, Judas grows concerned that Jesus is becoming arrogant and losing sight of his principles. So when Jesus attacks the money changers in a temple, Judas finally turns on his teacher, setting both on a path to tragedy. Originally conceived as a concept album that hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, the show eventually made its way to the stage in 1971 and garnered five Tony nominations in addition to winning a Drama Desk Award for Andrew Lloyd Webber. Now this globally celebrated classic comes to NBC in 2018 for a one-of-a-kind live staging on Easter Sunday that’s sure to amaze with jaw-dropping spectacle, an all-star cast of beloved recording artists and a fresh soundtrack featuring such hits as “Heaven on Their Minds,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “Superstar.”
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert! is set to air on Easter Sunday, April 1st and is produced by Universal Television, The Really Useful Group, Marc Platt Productions and Zadan/Meron Productions.
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