What’s the buzz, tell me what’s a-happenin’! NBC has chosen Jesus Christ Superstar as its next live musical, joining the ranks of The Sound of Music Live, Peter Pan Live, The Wiz Live, and Hairspray Live. The network had previously announced that a live production of Bye Bye Birdie starring Jennifer Lopez will air this December.
Jesus Christ Superstar is set to follow on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, with original creators Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice on board to produce, along with Marc Platt, Craig Zadan, and Neil Meron. Casting has yet to be announced, though NBC Chairman Robert Greenblatt has said that they are seeking "as many recording artists as possible to give proper voice to what is the original rock opera score."
If you’re unfamiliar with the musical, first performed on Broadway in 1971, think Godspell, but with a little more edge. Actually, a lot more edge. Or, if you’re unfamiliar with Godspell, think the Bible, and then add some rock 'n' roll. It may sound incongruous, but trust me, it works.
The rock opera, that had its humble beginnings as a concept album before making it to the stage, is loosely based on the four Gospels, focusing specifically on the last week of Jesus’ life and featuring such characters as Judas Iscariot, Mary Magdaline, Pontius Pilate, and King Herod. People who’ve never seen the show, or the 1973 film, might still recognize some of Webber and Rice’s tunes, like “Everything’s Alright,” “I Don’t Know How To Love Him,” and “Superstar.”
As a musical theater fan myself, I tend to think that every time a live musical is announced, and angel gets its wings. Past productions, on both NBC and Fox, have met with some mixed criticism, but anything that brings theater to the masses is okay by me. Not to mention, these shows have come a long way since NBC first boldly brought The Sound of Music to our screens three years ago, with the most recent Hairspray Live being the strongest yet, in my opinion. With not only one, but two, shows now scheduled, it’s nice to see this still relatively new tradition is being kept alive.