You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Remote Controlled: Stars Tell Backstage Tales of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Live’

Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera.

In  this week’s episode, Variety‘s managing editor of TV, Cynthia Littleton, talks with the stars of NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon.

Legend has received praise and plaudits for his work on NBC’s Easter night event telecast that originated from the Brooklyn’s Marcy Avenue Armory. But his most gratifying response came from the creators of the rock opera-turned-musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

“They were like, ‘Our show’s never been this well-reviewed,” Legend says, adding that for him it was “most important that Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice were happy.”

Legend, Dixon and Bareilles talk about the complicated rehearsal process for the show, with the key players coming in and out of rehearsal at different points while a team of stage pros worked out the staging, music and ensemble elements. The trio credit the work of directors David Leveaux and Alex Rudzinski, and exec producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.

“There had to be a certain amount of vision that we didn’t see in that rehearsal,” Legend says. “Once it all came together it made sense. For all those people to come together with a vision and make it happen I thought was really beautiful.”

Bareilles said the atmosphere on the big night in the cavernous Marcy Armory in Brooklyn, outfitted with an audience of more than 1,000, was a charged one.

“The air felt like champagne,” she says. “Walking into the (armory) that morning, everyone was so proud of the work that went into it. It was so buoyant. I kept feeling how much joy there was being poured into this.”

“Superstar” was a breakout moment for Dixon, the “Hamilton” alum who earned raves for his busy role as Judas. There was endless chatter online about Judas’ studded leather wardrobe, particularly a see-through vest that got a lot of attention during his big “Superstar” number. Dixon enjoyed his one-night-only turn as Judas but didn’t keep any of his wardrobe.

“It’s received a lot of love but it’s really not my look,” he says.

Dixon also delighted fans during the cast’s closing bow by flashing the Wakanda salute from the box office smash “Black Panther.” The idea to reference the groundbreaking black superhero movie came to Dixon the night before the live show, after he was given “bedazzled gauntlets” to wear for Judas’ final scene.

“Once I saw them I had a ‘Wonder Woman’ moment,” he says.

You can listen to this week’s podcast here.

New episodes of “Remote Controlled” are available every Friday, and you can find past episodes here.

More Music

  • Loretta Lynn

    Loretta Lynn Resting at Home After Hospital Stay

    Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera. In  this week’s episode, Variety‘s managing editor of TV, Cynthia Littleton, talks with the stars of NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon. Legend has received praise […]

  • Britney Spears in Las Vegas

    Britney Spears' Strange Vegas Residency Rollout Belies a Big Raise

    Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera. In  this week’s episode, Variety‘s managing editor of TV, Cynthia Littleton, talks with the stars of NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon. Legend has received praise […]

  • TV News Roundup: Showtime Drops Official

    TV News Roundup: Showtime Drops Official Trailer for 'Black Monday'

    Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera. In  this week’s episode, Variety‘s managing editor of TV, Cynthia Littleton, talks with the stars of NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon. Legend has received praise […]

  • Gabrielle CarterisWomen In Film Crystal and

    SAG-AFTRA Reaches Tentative Deal on Sound Recordings Contract

    Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera. In  this week’s episode, Variety‘s managing editor of TV, Cynthia Littleton, talks with the stars of NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon. Legend has received praise […]

  • Janet JacksonBillboard Music Awards, Show, Las

    NBC Announces Date for 2019 Billboard Music Awards

    Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera. In  this week’s episode, Variety‘s managing editor of TV, Cynthia Littleton, talks with the stars of NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon. Legend has received praise […]

  • Lil Peep’s Mother Talks About Opioid

    Lil Peep’s Mother Gets Deep About Opioid Crisis, Posthumous Albums at Intense Listening Event

    Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera. In  this week’s episode, Variety‘s managing editor of TV, Cynthia Littleton, talks with the stars of NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon. Legend has received praise […]

  • DANCE 'TIL DAWN -- Pictured: (l-r)

    'Dance Til Dawn' at 30: The Team Reflects on 'Unusual Casting Process,' #MeToo Relevance and DJ Dick

    Welcome to “Remote Controlled,” a podcast from Variety featuring the best and brightest in television, both in front of and behind the camera. In  this week’s episode, Variety‘s managing editor of TV, Cynthia Littleton, talks with the stars of NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon. Legend has received praise […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content