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Jesus Christ Superstar
Jesus Christ Superstar is a rock musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, lyrics by Tim Rice, and is loosely based on the Passion from The Life of Jesus in the New Testament. The music belongs to the sung-through subgenre, where songs are used even in the place of dialogues.
The musical was first released as a concept album in 1970 due to a lack of funds. The album’s success brought producers to premiere it on Broadway in 1971. Jesus Christ Superstar opened at the West End in 1972. It ran for eight years until 1980, to become one of the longest-running shows at West End.
The film adaptation of the musical was released in 1973 with the same title. It was shot in the Middle East and Israel, with Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, and Yvonne Elliman in the main roles.
The musical was adapted into another film in 1999, with Glenn Carter, Jérôme Pradon, and Reneé Castle playing the lead roles. This film won the Best Performing Arts Film at the International Emmy Awards in 2001.
Plot and Musical Numbers
Jesus Christ Superstar focuses on the psychology of Jesus and others, with Judas being the central character. It deals with how Judas was dissatisfied with Jesus. The musical has two acts with twelve songs in each.
The first act starts with Judas showing concern about Jesus’ ever-growing following and how this could threaten the Roman Empire. It ends with Judas accepting money to help the Pharisees arrest Jesus.
The second act starts with the famous Passover meal (The Last Supper). Jesus predicts that Peter will deny him thrice and one of his followers will betray him. The play ends with the crucifixion of Jesus and his body being taken down from the cross for burial. The title track of the concept album, Superstar, appears when Jesus is awaiting his crucifixion and Judas talks to him one last time.
The songs were initially written for an album rather than a musical and were sung by Ian Gillan (Jesus), Murray Head (Judas), Yvonne Elliman (Mary Magdalene), Michael d'Abo (King Herod), and Barry Dennen (Pilate). The lyrics deal with modern-day issues, sensitivities, and political events in an ironic tone.
The musical has been performed and revived on Broadway, West End, and other theaters over the years. It attracts an audience every time and has fans from around the world.