Not everyone watched NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live” on TV: More than 1,300 people made up the live audience that cheered on the show from the bleachers. Here’s what the telecast, which starred John Legend, Brandon Victor Dixon, and Sara Bareilles, was like from inside the event space.
1. Audiences were bused to the venue from a separate location.
Ticketholders were asked to convene more than two hours prior to showtime at the 1 Hotel in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn. Drinks and nibbles were served in the chic waterfront space before the crowd traveled by bus to the venue.
2. The show was broadcast live from an armory in Brooklyn.
NBC telecast the show from the Marcy Avenue Armory in Williamsburg, right at the junction of hipster Brooklyn and Hasidic Brooklyn — which made for an amusing juxtaposition for an audience arriving for a performance of “Jesus Christ Superstar” on Easter.
3. Marc Platt was the audience’s warm-up guy.
Platt, the superproducer of film (“La La Land”) and Broadway (“Wicked”) who was also one of the producers of the show, greeted the crowd just before the telecast and encouraged them to get into it. “If you’re moved to dance or stand up, please do so,” he told them. “You are part of the experience tonight.”
4. The mosh pit got tutored.
Also before the show, the front-row mosh pit got a little coaching on waving their hands in their air. It paid off in “Hosanna,” the song that had everyone waving their arms in unison.
5. The live crowd couldn’t understand all of the lyrics, either.
Viewers at home had a lot of complaints about the sound mix. It was also tough in the room, where audience members could always tell that the talented cast could sing — but half the time they couldn’t quite make out what anyone was saying.
6. The crew kept a close eye on that sand.
The stretches of sand along the edges of the stage needed constant maintenance. During commercial breaks, crew members with brooms swept stray grains back into place, and another one carrying a sprayer and what looked like a tank of water misted the sand to help keep it in place.
7. The bleachers always looked filled — even when they weren’t.
Audience members were encouraged to sprawl, manspread, or otherwise take up two seats when a neighbor took a bathroom break. That way, the crowd always looked packed.
8. No one likes to clean up glitter.
Jesus’ scene with the money-changers in “The Temple” left a lot of glitter on the floor. There was no TV magic to cleaning it up: Just a lot of crew members with brooms and giant dustpans, sweeping as fast as they could.
9. The show brought the audience to its feet three times.
The first spontaneous standing ovation came for Legend’s performance of “Gethsemane.” The next one came for Alice Cooper’s “King Herod’s Song” — and then there was “Superstar,” the full-cast number led by Brandon Victor Dixon, that had everyone on their feet before it was over.
10. Most people didn’t see Judas die.
Dixon, playing Judas, seemed to have a very dramatic death scene. The live audience wouldn’t know, because that sequence culminated on the back side of the set.
11. When it was all over, it was time to celebrate
After the curtain call, producers, crew and cast members congratulated each other onstage. Dixon, for instance, gave producer Neil Meron a big hug — and then, of course, they took a selfie together.