When it was announced that John Legend would be playing the title role in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert there was a collective sigh of relief that a singer with the right range would be playing such an iconic role. The production will screen on NBC on Sunday April 1 at 8pm Eastern Time and there could be no more perfect date for the show given that Easter Sunday falls on that date.
People Magazine were given the first look at the aesthetic of the show by costume designer Paul Tazewell as well as the first look at Legend as Jesus.
Tazewell said that Legend has an honest and open character which means it is quite easy for him to embody a messianic figure. Tazewell also said that Legend seemed to share the same of vision as Tazewell and director David Leveaux had for this new version of Jesus. Both Tazewell and Leveaux were keen to create an urban dystopic feel for the costumes which will create a juxtaposition to the “ancient architectural ruins which will inform much of the scenic design.”
Tazewell said that he was keen to create an original look for the costumes for the show and he hopes that the costumes will be different from other versions of the iconic 1970 Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice rock opera.
Whilst we knew that Legend would be playing Jesus Christ, and that Waitress writer and star Sara Bareilles playing Mary Magdalene, with Alice Cooper playing King Herod no further casting had been announced; in particular who would be playing the pivotal role of Judas.
Earlier today the full casting was announced by Playbill with a Broadway icon taking on one of the Pharisees. Phantom of the Opera star Norm Lewis will be playing Caiaphas, with fellow Tony nominee Ben Daniels taking on Pontius Pilate (who for me has one of the best songs in the show). Taking on the mammoth role of Judas is Hamilton alum Brandon Victor Dixon, Dixon played Aaron Burr in the Broadway production for over 12 months and it has to be said that this could be an inspired piece of casting. As a long time fan of Jesus Christ Superstar the choice of actor to play Judas is more important than who will play Jesus because we see the last week of Jesus’s life through the eyes of Judas. Jason Tam will play Peter, and Swedish singer Erik Gronwall will play Simon Zealotes.
Nazareth’s most famous son comes to NBC this Easter Sunday.
— NBC (@nbc) February 5, 2018
The new production will air at 8pm on Sunday April 1 on NBC, and will be performed live to an audience at Marcy Armory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. With Lord Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice one can only hope this production works as well as the recent Olivier winning production which ran for two consecutive seasons at London’s Regent Park Open Air Theatre.