There are other reasons to watch, namely John Legend as Jesus, Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdelene, and Alice Cooper at peak Alice Cooper as King Herod, but you’ve got to see what Judas Iscariot is wearing.
This morning I attended a press junket for NBC’s upcoming Jesus Christ Superstar “live in concert.” Following the network’s tradition of staging and broadcasting live musicals, Superstar is aiming for more of a rock concert feel than a traditional Broadway vibe.
It sounds like there’ll be less strenuous choreography and more emphasis on an immersive crowd experience when the show takes place on April 1st at the Marcy Armory in Brooklyn. (Yes, that’s Easter Sunday, a bold move.)
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical about Jesus Christ and his companions began its life in the ’70s as a concept album and, quite frankly, staging has never been the main draw of Superstar—distinctive and emotive singing of the show’s well-known numbers like “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” is what you’ll come out of the experience remembering. (We were told by director David Leveaux that Bareilles’ take on that song will be a “revelation,” so, uh, no pressure, Sara.)
While the JCS Live in Concert creatives promise a rock concert experience complete with a sort of audience “mosh pit” surrounding the stage, they’re clearly aware that they’ll need to give all those watching eyeballs some interesting things to look at.
Choreographer Camille A. Brown is fresh off of the Once on This Island revival, and teased plenty of “social dance” as well as new spins on the material like a tribute to ’90s hip-hop with “What’s the Buzz?”. Costume designer Paul Tazewell created costumes for The Wiz Live! and is perhaps best known for his Hamilton designs.
Tazewell has gone all-in with his Judas Iscariot costume design and it is the primary reason that I will tune in to this event. While Jesus and Mary Magdalene’s costumes seem to be relatively simple garments that evoke their characters but with a modern look, Judas is here for this.
If you’re not familiar with Jesus Christ Superstar, the character of Judas Iscariot is more sympathetic and complex than you might imagine, and he has some of the best songs. (The musical, which has been controversial in certain stagings since its inception, was once criticized for “humanizing” Judas, but in my opinion it’s one of the most interesting parts about the show.)
He’ll be played here by Broadway vet Brandon Victor Dixon, who recently starred as Aaron Burr in Hamilton (in case you were wondering if he has the vocal chops—he does).
Judas appears to have his own silver-clothed (silver? Get it?) backup singers, and I am positive I’m going to be 100% Team Judas during this show (can’t wait for that #teamjudas hashtag).
Tazewell did mention that these designs are not yet in their final completed stages, but really, he doesn’t need to change a thing.
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