Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock opera musical that takes a deeper look into the days leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It has a strong focus on the relationship between Judas and Jesus and the friction between the two. It also shows the relationship of Mary Magdalene and Jesus and how she truly loved him but felt conflicted due to the views of the people in Jerusalem. Ultimately, Jesus is crucified as history says so. The musical was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Throughout its 40+ year run, it has adopted multiple adaptations including a concept album, films, Broadway musicals, and even Live TV Specials. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the multiple versions of this Rock Opera musical throughout the last 48 years.
Concept Album (1970): Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s idea for a rock opera were about to come true and very well known to the world when this concept album for a story on the passion of Christ was introduced. Although seen many times as controversial for its take on the sacred story, there is no doubt that it depicts the life of Jesus Christ in a fresh new way. The album was casted
Broadway Run (1971-1973): The concept album ultimately became a Broadway show and ran for 3 successful years. The production starred Paul Alexander Nolan as Jesus Christ and Josh Young as Judas.
Movie (1973): After a successful Broadway run, a movie was ultimately created to show this new version of Jesus’s last week alive to millions. But the idea of the film had come before the show. Barry Dennen who played Pontius Pilate on the concept album suggested that he should direct a film version of the album and 3 years later this idea was brought to life when Dennen was brought on to direct the 1973 film
Movie (2000): 27 years later the story of Jesus Christ Superstar was brought back into the publics eye. A film version was made for video. Andrew Lloyd Webber even describes this movie as what he originally envisioned for the film when he wrote the music 30 years prior.
Broadway Revival (2012): In the era of remakes that we are living it is no surprise that was an album, then a show, then a movie twice, was yet a show again. In 2012 a Broadway revival of the controversial musical had a Broadway run of a little over a year.
Live TV Special (2018): In 2017 it was announced that the story of Jesus Christ Superstar would be told YET AGAIN. But this time in the new and very popular way of presenting musicals. On television. The TV special aired on NBC Easter Sunday (how appropriate) and starred John Legend as Jesus Christ and the one and only Alice Cooper as King Herod. The special was a success and had high ratings regardless of it being a religious holiday that many Americans observe.
Even throughout these different adaptations of the same story, it is evident that the tale of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection is still relevant in our society today. Whether it be a movie, album, or show, the message is clearly being portrayed in a way that identifies and for some, it even resonates with them.