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Jesus Christ Superstar Returns to the Stage

No, this isn’t a Google News Archive article…you are actually reading about Jesus Christ Superstar in the year 2012. This rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, loosely based on the gospels, but highly embellished to include details about political differences between Judas Iscariot and Jesus, not to mention plenty of over-the-top pop songs.

While the musical has been in production for quite a while (it played at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in Stratford, Ontario during early 2011, and then to La Jolla Playhouse in late 2011. The latest news is that the legendary musical will be moved to the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway, starting on March 22, 2012.

The musical features Paul Nolan as Jesus, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene and Josh Young as “Judas Iscariot. The director on board as early 2012 is Des McAnuff, with Lisa Shriver as Choreographer. If that’s not enough to make you stand up and sing then how about the latest plans for a musical? Yes, a third film adaptation is scheduled for release in 2014. The new movie will be directed by Marc Webb who previously directed (500) Days of Summer and the upcoming The Amazing Spiderman reboot.

In case you never saw the original Jesus Christ Superstar on stage or on the screen, just know that it is probably as unorthodox an experiment as you will ever see, and certainly the boldest biblical translation, even in this bizarre age of Harry Crumb-drawn bible graphic novels.

The musical incorporates 1970s slang and some very modern attitudes into the dialogue and music, and there are actually many ironic allusions to 20th and 21st century life. In fact, fans of the original 1973 movie may remember that many modern images were interspersed with the “passion play”, including a surfing Herod and a Roman army sporting purple t-shirts.

Regardless of satirical or religious themes, it’s hard to deny that this production has brought us some of the most beautiful music of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s career, including “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “Everything’s Alright.” In 2012, it may not be the end of the world, but it is the return of the Christ–or at least the musical hippie version on Broadway!

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