‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Set as NBC’s Next Live Musical

Jesus Christ Superstar NBC musical
Jane Hobson/REX/Shutterstock

NBC has selected “Jesus Christ Superstar” as the next live musical to head to the network, Variety has learned.

The show follows in the footsteps of NBC’s successful run of live musical events, including “Sound of Music Live,” “Peter Pan Live,” “The Wiz Live,” and most recently, “Hairspray Live.”

All of NBC’s former live musicals have aired during December as a holiday special. In contract, “Jesus Christ Superstar Live!” will air on Easter Sunday next year, April 1, 2018.

Based on the 1971 Broadway rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar Live!” will be executive produced by original creators Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, who will also provide music and lyrics for NBC’s show. In addition to the duo, musical vets Marc Platt of “La La Land,” plus Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, who have both worked with the network on past musicals, are also on board as executive producers.

No stars have been announced, but casting is underway and NBC is looking to cast authentic recording artists.

“As we continue to expand the profile of our live musicals, we are thrilled to be partnering with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to bring a new live staging of the iconic ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ to NBC,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment. “Casting has just begun, but we want to fill out this classic show with as many recording artists as possible to give proper voice to what is the original rock opera score.”

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“Jesus Christ Superstar” is based on the final week of Jesus’ life, and features other historical figures including Judas Iscariot, Mary Magdalene, Pontius Pilate, Caiaphas, Annas, Peter, Simon Zealotes, and King Herod.

The musical first opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway in 1971 and starred Jeff Fenholt as Jesus and Ben Vereen as Judas, and was nominated for five Tony Awards that year. Prior to making its way to the stage, the musical was originally conceived as a concept album that hit no. 1 on the Billboard charts. Since then, the show has been performed in nearly 20 countries and translated into 18 different languages. In the 46 years since its debut, “Jesus Christ Superstar” has been revived many times, including Tony-nominated runs in 2000 and 2012.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” is not the first religious-themed musical to head to the broadcast networks on Easter weekend. Last year, Tyler Perry brought “The Passion” to Fox, which was a partially live modern spin on the story of Jesus Christ’s last hours, though the one-night event garnered mixed reviews and did not bring in a large audience.

For NBC, the network now has a few live shows in deck in addition to “Jesus Christ Superstar” — a live adaptation of Aaron Sorkin’s “A Few Good Men” is expected to debut later this year, along with a live musical version of “Bye Bye Birdie,” starring Jennifer Lopez.

“Jesus Christ Superstar Live!” hails from Universal Television, the Really Useful Group, Marc Platt Productions, and Storyline Entertainment.

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    1. Judy Yescalis says:

      Saw Constantine Maroulis blow minds and break hearts of 10K people × 8 nights as Judas at the massive Muny outdoor amphitheater in St Louis this summer. Nothing but A++ reviews for this superb actor/singer in his favorite rock n roll role!! He would kill in NBC Live production!

    2. Stephanie Galinis says:

      Before writing the plot or script maybe they should try reading the four gospels. And last time I checked the story isn’t about Judas Iscariot he hung himself before Jesus went to the cross. Jesus never proclaimed to be a super star look at the people he hung at with. And Jesus was and is not about religion. Being apart of a religion means you have to do something to get into heaven. Jesus brought forgiveness and love and wants us to follow him before you do a play on him I suggest you read about him first

      • slfisher says:

        And Alexander Hamilton wasn’t multiethnic and didn’t speak in rap, but you know, that’s what makes theatre so interesting.

    3. slfisher says:

      Judas: Lin Manuel Miranda
      Jesus: Josh Groban
      Mary Magdalene: Lorde
      Herod: Neil Patrick Harris or Nathan Lane
      Pilate: Hugh Jackman
      Caiphas: Avi from Pentonix

    4. Z says:

      Tony Vincent should be the only choice for Simon Zealotes. Listen to his version of Poor Jerusalem. Astounding.

    5. Reyes Carranza says:

      To be clear. JC Superstar takes it’s plot from the New Testament of the Bible. However, I wouldn’t call it religiously based. Religion plays only the smallest part of this story. The lead character of this story is Judas. This is a story told from Judas’ perspective as a someone who does not believe in divinity of Jesus but rather someone who wants them all to tone it down before they are all destroyed.

    6. Janie Hyman says:

      After following the career of Adam Pascal (“Rent”, of course), and most recently seeing and hearing him perform in “Chess Concert” and “Something Rotten”, I’d like to see him in this if it is done well.

    7. Sarah says:

      yeah.. it sure feels like we need more religion right now. lmfao.

    8. Fred says:

      It’s rather ironic that they would choose Easter (a holiday which celebrates the resurrection) to stage a musical about Christ which does not have a resurrection scene, and which in fact ends with him still dead on the cross.

      • Paul says:

        I think you guys missed the last shot of the cross in front of the setting sun and in front of that a silhouette of a Shepard and his flock. Symbolism?

      • My thoughts exactly should air on Good Friday, not good thinking NBC. If they want to put it in the popular Sunday night slot, then air on Palm Sunday, which is around the beginning. Would be nice if they decide to extend the musical and add a resurrection scene, then would be perfect for Easter Sunday.

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