Special Event: Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
April 1, 2018 4:44 PM - Subscribe

Here's a thread to discuss NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert live while it airs! (And of course to chat about it afterwards, if you like.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (90 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Previously - Filthy light thief's terrific FPP
posted by oh yeah! at 4:57 PM on April 1, 2018


(Thanks oh yeah!)

EEEEEEEE this is giving me feels already.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:01 PM on April 1, 2018


John Legend seems to be taking it a little more straight ahead(/original cast recording) than the other leads, but so far I like what everyone's doing, and I like the staging.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:14 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


That was a great start. The closed captioning is lagging behind the singing a bit, which I guess is only to be expected from a live broadcast - I've seen the show before, but I'm not at 'can sing along to every number' level familiar with the lyrics, so I think I'll leave them on anyway.

Where is the venue?
posted by oh yeah! at 5:22 PM on April 1, 2018


OMG the costumes on Caiaphas and co. are AWESOME.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:23 PM on April 1, 2018


Caiaphas singing from the absolute basement, I love it
posted by Countess Elena at 5:23 PM on April 1, 2018


I saw Brandon Victor Dixon as Burr in Hamilton! Seems like a man in danger of being typecast, heh.
posted by merriment at 5:25 PM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


The blond one wanted to play Pilate I think
posted by Countess Elena at 5:25 PM on April 1, 2018


Caiaphas is the best
posted by Akhu at 5:26 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Here for musical theater Admiral Hux.
posted by merriment at 5:27 PM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I’m liking this more than I thought I would.
posted by grimley at 5:30 PM on April 1, 2018


I hope they are taking the break time to adjust the levels, the lead voices are not coming through as loud as the music
posted by Countess Elena at 5:30 PM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Happy to see Mykal "Reclaiming My Time" Kilgore in the production!
posted by TwoStride at 5:32 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Chrissy Teigen is live tweeting and, as usual, is a hoot.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:34 PM on April 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


My wife was super excited to spot Kilgore.

She's also never seen this before, but identified Simon as "the kind of white guy who isn't as good as ally as he thinks he is" before he even opened his mouth.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:37 PM on April 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


I AM HERE FOR THIS. (A bit late due to having to drive elderly relatives home from the Easter celebration and then an overtired tantruming child.) Commercial breaks are super jarring.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:42 PM on April 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


yeah I wish some company had sponsored the whole thing. Otherwise, this is extremely good.
posted by lalex at 5:44 PM on April 1, 2018


Commercial breaks are unexpected and really annoying. Allow it to play.
posted by grimley at 5:44 PM on April 1, 2018


Glitter is a fascinating choice for the moneychangers
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:46 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


I automatically cringe a bit whenever I see lots of glitter. What a pain to clean up!
posted by TwoStride at 5:47 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


John Legend was lacking a bit of conviction throwing the moneychangers out!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:47 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Glitter: the herpes of the craft world.
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:48 PM on April 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I hope the tech rehearsals confirmed the glitter isn't going to show up at inopportune moments in the rest of the show.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:49 PM on April 1, 2018


Coming in late... just got back home from Easter with the family...
I am definitely in the “I can sing along with EVERY SONG” camp!
Looking forward to the rest of this!
posted by bookmammal at 5:50 PM on April 1, 2018


I feel like John Legend's shirt neck keeps dropping a bit lower the longer this musical goes on. Even before all the lepers pulled at it.
posted by TwoStride at 5:51 PM on April 1, 2018


Happy to see Mykal "Reclaiming My Time" Kilgore in the production!

He was a highlight of the The Wiz Live before "Reclaiming My Time" went viral. It warms my heart when these live TV productions use the same people!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:52 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Legend has a gorgeous voice and presence but he’s lacking the edge of hysteria and exhaustion that Ian Gillan had. Not complaining, just observing
posted by Countess Elena at 5:52 PM on April 1, 2018


Oh God, the glitter. I'm completely distracted from Sara Bareilles' really rather thoughtful delivery of this old chestnut by all the sparkle!

Enjoyed the brief dip into Walking Dead territory earlier.
posted by merriment at 5:53 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yeah, he seems a fairly sedate Christ. I'm rolling with it though and Jesus is like the least interesting character in this whole joint anyway. Maybe he'll come off as less of a whiny snot later in the story. #teamjudas
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:54 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Maybe they're going to clean up the glitter during the commercials
posted by Akhu at 5:55 PM on April 1, 2018


OK—yes, these commercials are really abrupt and jarring. I do not want to think about buying a probiotic right now.
posted by bookmammal at 5:57 PM on April 1, 2018


Maybe they're going to clean up the glitter during the commercials

Isn't the nature of glitter that it can never be fully cleaned up? The actors are going to be finding it in their hair for weeks.

I'm not wowed by Legend so far - he's not bad, just, not electrifying.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:00 PM on April 1, 2018


John Legend is the guy they always have in these TV musicals, the big-name star that gets people to tune in, who's competent but isn't as good as the Broadway actors in other roles. (Still, I'm glad they went big for Judas, and famous for Jesus, since Judas is the more important role.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:02 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Not to be all shallow, but who's the hot Asian actor?
posted by TwoStride at 6:03 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


So where could someone pick up a coat like the Pharisees? Asking for a friend.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:04 PM on April 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Jin Ha, as Annas? Second pic here
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:05 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Eyebrows!
posted by TwoStride at 6:07 PM on April 1, 2018


Awwww, so young: Following the links from Eyebrows: Lin Manuael Miranda as Jesus Christ Superstar in College!
posted by TwoStride at 6:10 PM on April 1, 2018




John Legend cranked it up there, that was pretty good!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:23 PM on April 1, 2018


Yeah, I feel like he's still trying to get his head around the intersection of rock singing and musical singing and when to do what, and he needs to kind of stop thinking about it so much?
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:25 PM on April 1, 2018


(By which I mean I kind of sensed that he stopped thinking about it as he progressed through that number, and the result was really good.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:26 PM on April 1, 2018


Ha, thought we'd had our first big camera fuck-up, nice trick, producers.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:30 PM on April 1, 2018


Don't love the Pilate choices. But excited for Herod!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:39 PM on April 1, 2018


Nice work, Mr. Furnier.
posted by donpardo at 6:45 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Okay I think Alice Cooper was a teeny bit tentative during the Broadway singing parts, but he was awesome during the rock star parts and I loved every minute of his performance.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:46 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


I thought that was pretty great delivery from Alice, but he could have moved around more. He maybe is feeling his age in that.

I thought that “Could We Start Again, Please” is a weak number, but Sara Bareilles is so lovely here.
posted by Countess Elena at 6:51 PM on April 1, 2018


soren_lorensen: " Jesus is like the least interesting character in this whole joint anyway. "

Gethsemane is the only really good Jesus moment.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:53 PM on April 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Do we think the suicide went as planned?
posted by donpardo at 6:57 PM on April 1, 2018


Huh?
posted by oh yeah! at 6:58 PM on April 1, 2018


That was an extremely sanitized for TV hanging which I appreciate, although I sent Mini McGee (who was watching with me) to bed after Herod, I thought he didn't need to see Judas hang or the 39 lashes or the crucifixion.

He knows the story but he was getting hyper involved seeing it as a musical and was REALLY UPSET that Judas betrayed Jesus and kept talking about hiding Jesus under a catapult and then using the catapult to kill the Romans, etc.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:58 PM on April 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


trivia: an actor playing Judas has actually died during a production when the hanging harness malfunctioned

so I am looking forward to seeing Brandon back for his big number for more reasons than one
posted by Countess Elena at 6:58 PM on April 1, 2018


JCS was really the first time I ever actually heard the story of Christ's passion (not raised among Christians) when I was in middle school and then I went to Catholic high school and read the actual Bible and was real disappointed to find that actually Judas isn't the tormented hero of the story. I never understood why Judas is forever the bad guy because like... what else was going to happen? Jesus had to die on the cross for the sins of the world and the guy that made that happen is the bad guy? What gives?!
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:02 PM on April 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I never want to see a staged hanging. Never never never. Too easy to go wrong.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:07 PM on April 1, 2018


This Pilate is really all over the place for me and doesn't seem to have a through-line, and I don't like the staging of the 39 lashes.

(What motivated Judas? Is he flat evil, a tormented hero, a pissed off tool of God who recognizes he has no choice but doesn't want to? is a major preoccupation of Western literature and pops up for centuries on end.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:07 PM on April 1, 2018


That was pretty good! I'm looking forward to watching the first half of Act I that I missed.
posted by soren_lorensen at 7:20 PM on April 1, 2018


I'm glad they didn't cut to commercial before the crucifixion. Which I didn't totally love John Legend's interpretation of but I cut him some slack, it's one of the toughest bits to play. (Okay, flyaway cross was pretty cool.)

Sara Bareilles is my unexpected MVP! She really brought a lot of gravitas and emotion to the role, including when she was just in reaction shots. I knew Brandon Victor Dixon would be great, but Bareilles surprised me. Annas, I think, is the most underappreciated role, I love his bits (especially when in duet with Caiaphas).

My senior year in high school this was the musical my school put on, and I played bass in the pit orchestra. My left hand's fingers have been twitching this whole time because it's so deeply embedded in my muscle memory. I wore off the fingerprints on six of my fingers and had to superglue splits together because we rehearsed so much and the bass only stops during the actual crucifixion. (My HS is the one in the "Wait, this isn't Broadway?" award here, so we were pretty intense about musicals.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:21 PM on April 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


Bareilles really was great. I've only recently learned about her, and it delights me that this beautiful, graceful performer is also the one who wrote this song for the Spongebob Squarepants Musical.
posted by Countess Elena at 7:31 PM on April 1, 2018


That was insane. I'm so, so glad they staged this with a live audience. More live audiences please!
posted by lalex at 7:43 PM on April 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


As someone who firmly believes that Andrew Lloyd Weber is only capable of writing three enitrely good songs per two-hour musical, I really enjoyed this production. I thought the direction was (mostly) inspired; the cast was stellar and the ensemble held up, rather than overwhelmed the show. Most importantly, I think this was the best example of how to do a musical on television in the recent era.

Also, thank you to Brandon Taylor-Dixon for incontrovertibly demonstrating that this is Judas's show.
posted by CatastropheWaitress at 8:04 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


I agree with all of The Vulture's highs and lows review.
posted by TwoStride at 8:40 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Judas blew me away - I thought he was just fantastic. But wow, Alice Cooper didn't do it for me at ALL - I had high hopes for him but I was really disappointed. But loved everything else!
posted by Neely O'Hara at 8:54 PM on April 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


UUUGH

I fully ragequit during "Gethsemane" due to edit cuts that zapped no-response rests. My wife is actively mad at me. Honestly, I should have known by now.
posted by mwhybark at 9:55 PM on April 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Bareilles really was great. I've only recently learned about her, and it delights me that this beautiful, graceful performer is also the one who wrote this song for the Spongebob Squarepants Musical.

She's also written an entire musical of her own, "Waitress". She didn't originally perform in it, but she has since a couple of times.
posted by dnash at 5:29 AM on April 2, 2018


I enjoyed this. I'm not completely sold on Legend's performance -- it was a bit too internal and quiet -- but I also respect the choices he made with the role. His Jesus was more someone people projected other things onto, which yes, is the whole point of the character.

Everyone else was great. Bareilles really surprised me with her vulnerability and sweetness.

I think Alice Cooper was a bit of a missed opportunity. The number should've worked but it kind of fell flat for me. I agree that he was likely feeling his age, but the random dancers just made the whole thing feel a bit under-done.

I do think the production made a lot of inspired choices and I liked how much it felt like a stage production while still working for TV. Some bits were a little obvious but I liked what they did with it.

(My recording cut off before the curtain call ended so I'll have to find that later. I was left feeling so unfulfilled!)
posted by darksong at 5:37 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't like Jesus Christ Superstar (no character development, no humor) but I enjoyed this production. Great casting, great visuals, and a few great songs.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:20 AM on April 2, 2018


No idea why they called it an "In Concert" production- did they make cuts? It was fully staged and everyone was off book. If I don't see a music stand, it ain't a concert production.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:21 AM on April 2, 2018


If I don't see a music stand, it ain't a concert production.
Huh?
I'm guessing they mean "rock concert" hence the couple dozen of screaming fans at the front of the stage that they interacted with during several numbers.
posted by TwoStride at 7:46 AM on April 2, 2018


I thought that “Could We Start Again, Please” is a weak number, but Sara Bareilles is so lovely here.

I'm obsessed with how pretty that song is, and Sarah Bareilles gave THE performance. I don't believe that song can be any better than her version, feel free to @ me, I will take on all comers.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:31 AM on April 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


The version of this in my head is always the concept album, which doesn't have "Could We Start Again, Please," but Bareilles did a good enough job to make up for me not expecting it to be there.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:45 AM on April 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Granted I've only seen the movie version and never seen JSC staged, but I really didn't like this performance. I guess in my mind, the movie is more subversive(?) with the story. The temple scene in particular, where the movie has the money-changers and prostitution and Jesus comes in so enraged that he knocks over tables and throws stuff everywhere. The NBC version was "well, some folks covered themselves in glitter at a table and Jesus waved a chair." I understand they can't show the same destruction, but there wasn't the illustration of greed and depravity in a holy place I expected.

Another thing from the movie was the striking power difference between Jesus and his followers and the establishment. Again, I know the staged version can't fly a fighter plane over the production, but the guards in the movie had helmets and large guns (machine guns or assault rifles, I don't remember) and there was none of that that I saw.

I liked the updates with media and social media (camera crews, reporters with mics, and smartphones), I just wish they had updated other things. Like, I've actually seen an ATM in the lobby of a mega-church. And, you know, "religious" people being A-OK with a leader who has had several wives and is widely known to be unfaithful.

And maybe its just the current climate, but I found the "Jews are demanding we kill Jesus" to be kind of alarming. I know its in the actual story and the musical, but without getting the audience to somewhat examine their own role in the violence, greed, depravity, etc, it just felt ... wrong. I don't want to go too far here and call the staged version something on only one watch, but, yeah, that left a bad taste.
posted by Is It Over Yet? at 9:58 AM on April 2, 2018


A few years ago the person who normally organizes our Burning Man camp decided that he wanted to take a couple of years off. I wanted the camp to go forward and I am (if you will allow me to toot my own horn here) not entirely terrible at organizing and logistics, so I volunteered to step into his role.

I immediately discovered that 90% of my campmates were intensely capable in very narrow ranges of skills and almost entirely useless in regards to anything falling outside of that range. So it was difficult to get responses to even the most basic emailed questions and only about half of the camp got their dues to me in time and most of the people who had volunteered to help pack the camp truck did not show up until after the work was done and no one who had been told that it was essential to our departure plan that they have their gear broken down and ready to ship by departure time managed to do so and a shocking number of people forgot to bring basic survival necessities like food and water. On the other hand, if you needed a singer, photographer, pro domme, erotic hypnotist, romance novel cover model, small plane pilot or warehouse art installation carpenter, this group had you covered.

That is the good-natured snark of a jealous dude speaking; I am good at numbers and communication, but if I had enough artistic talent to make a living at it or could be professionally attractive I would do so in a minute. But still.

A few days before we were set to depart for the desert one of my campmates asked if it would be ok if his friend Norm camped with us. I had never met Norm and knew nothing about him other than that he was a friend of a friend, so saying yes felt like I was potentially adding a lit stick of TNT to the dozen chainsaws I was juggling, but at that point the situation already felt completely out of my control so I decided to give it my approval and hope for the best.

What I did not realize until seconds before he was introduced to me as I was setting up camp in the midst of a dust storm was that Norm was Norm Lewis. I did not follow Broadway particularly closely but I recognized him and knew who he was. At the time I knew him as Javert in Les Misérables, but over the course of that week I learned via various people approaching him that he had been in everything.

He turned out to be one of the most all-purpose capable people in our camp. Friendly, calming, always willing to lend a hand and someone that I could rely on to help when multiple people were melting down and needed attention simultaneously.

We were making breakfast midway through the week and Norm was entertaining us with a story about a performance that had gone wrong and he casually said "…and I got to the part where I sang…" and the next sound that came out of his mouth was a Broadway singer singing Javert as though he were on stage. When I try to describe his voice I can only come up with cliché: Rich. Deep. Melodious. Emotionally evocative. And it carried. People from other camps came over to talk to us about it.

And then he dropped back into his normal conversational tone like he had not just blown my mind.

As you can probably imagine, my Facebook feed right now is an avalanche of mutual friends going crazy over his performance as Caiaphas. I should ask him if they let him keep the coat.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:20 AM on April 2, 2018 [38 favorites]


I'm not completely sold on Legend's performance -- it was a bit too internal and quiet --

I think you mean "bad." "Bad" is the word you're looking for. John Legend is not an actor, and was just HUGELY shown up by literally everyone around him. "Gethsemane" is supposed to give us Jesus' long dark night of the soul--like, literally. It's a furious song, and he just sat there, shaking his shoulders up and down as if that were somehow emphasizing... something. I get that Legend's known for his falsetto/soft high, but that is the absolute worst choice for the high notes in that song.

I was so very disappointed in his performance, most especially because I loved pretty much every single other thing about the production--all of the rest of the cast, all of the musicians, the direction, the sets, the tech (yeah, there were some levels problems, but it's live and probably the tech was under-rehearsed and they never got to run it with a full audience, etc.) -- I thought it was amazing, but too bad about the bland, aimless Jesus. He was as exciting as a communion wafer.

Isn't there another "popular draw" singer right now who could have done a better job? Seriously?
posted by tzikeh at 11:12 AM on April 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


I agree with pretty much everything Tom and Lorenzo had to say about this production.
posted by merriment at 11:21 AM on April 2, 2018


I just had one of the least hateful treadmill runs in recent memory (why is it snowing in April 2?!) courtesy of NBC's YouTube playlist of last night's performances. I got all caught up on what I missed and ran real fast and had a hard time not singing along. So basically I need a fully staged rock musical a week to keep my workouts enjoyable is what I'm saying.

This morning I was listening to whatever version I have on my phone (I can't remember if it's Broadway or movie) and it just reminded me that no matter who is playing him, Jesus just sort of sucks and a great actor and vocalist can make him suck less but the way the show characterizes him I could never understand why he had even a follower let alone fifty thousand. In Act I he's just a platitude dispenser who secretly seems to hate everyone around him. In Act II Judas's and Pilate's exasperation is entirely reasonable (and Herod also). Which is just to say that if you're going to miscast/stunt cast your "lead" this is the show to do it in because all the other roles are a zillion times meatier.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:35 AM on April 2, 2018


If anyone wants to watch it again, you can do so right here thanks to Broadwayworld.com
posted by tzikeh at 11:42 AM on April 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


I agree with pretty much everything Tom and Lorenzo had to say about this production.

I don't agree with their take that this was the first good live musical- The Wiz Live was great, and Grease: Live was good.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:13 PM on April 2, 2018


Watching some Youtubes of the performances I got linked to Judas w/ Choir! Choir! Choir!. This guy's kinda talented, folks.
posted by DigDoug at 12:21 PM on April 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


I have a lot of thoughts. I really loved this musical as a teenager. I was still a good church girl at the time, though on my way to agnosticism, and I appreciated that Judas was sympathetic and that Jesus had moods and doubts.

I agree with the consensus that Legend's acting chops were just not up to the task. At all. He got a little better at the end, but I felt like he spent much of this production wandering around on the stage unsure of what to do with his arms and his face.

Brandon Victor Dixon was, however, fully up to the task. Damn.

Also, Norm Lewis. Damn. (AND THAT COAT.) I love the vocal interplay between Caiaphas and Annas and it was spot on here. Sara Bareilles was such a great surprise! I have always thought that Mary's part was underwritten, and she really filled it out and made the most of the character.

The apostles disappointed me a bit. I'm not saying that I want them to all wear matching outfits or anything, but I found it difficult to distinguish whether they were random fans of Jesus or part of the twelve -- and even once they were all together for the Last Supper I wasn't feeling it.

Actually, I guess I have some criticisms of how ensemble was used throughout. I thought a lot of the movement throughout was just randomly frenetic and could have carried more storytelling weight. In particular, that shift from adulation to angry mob. And I didn't understand why everyone was, like, red-rovering for the 39 lashes. That was weird staging that didn't work for me.

I liked Pilate a lot at first, but he was so amped that his conflicting feelings about executing Jesus got a little lost in the noise. Don't squander one of the few places where JCS has some explicit character development!

Alice Cooper. He was fine. It's the part that most cries out for stunt-casting. I actually would have liked him to ham it up more. Dancers were great, though.
posted by desuetude at 9:14 AM on April 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


> hat was an extremely sanitized for TV hanging which I appreciate, although I sent Mini McGee (who was watching with me) to bed after Herod, I thought he didn't need to see Judas hang or the 39 lashes or the crucifixion.

Yeah, I thought that the way they staged Judas's suicide provided a really effective gut-punch without needlessly showing violence. I do not want to see a staged hanging. (I especially do not want to see a black man hanged, I don't think I'm capable of fully divorcing it from lynching regardless of the context, and that would have been a weird distraction.)
posted by desuetude at 9:19 AM on April 3, 2018


OH! Can I ask about a small detail regarding Gethsemane? In the original album, my favorite favorite favorite thing is the tricky sharp that Ian Gillan does for "take this cup AWAY from me" (and other places in the song with that melodic line.) Was that just a quirk of his particular vocal performance? Is that the way it was originally written?

I feel like most other Jesuses handle that note in a more expected way and I'm always a little disappointed.
posted by desuetude at 9:30 AM on April 3, 2018


I have never really liked this show - I'm wasn't raised Christian, so the story never had a lot of resonance for me, and the musical style is not my favorite. Actually, I think I've only seen the movie, and only once, and it didn't leave much of an impression. But I watched this because I heard how good Brandon Dixon and Sara Bareilles were, and damn. Especially in the second act, Dixon was just so amazing. I can see how he must have been a phenomenal Burr. And Sara Bareilles took a really thin character and gave her a lot of gravitas. I like how she almost played her like the emotional Greek chorus.

I wasn't crazy about the staging/direction though. I couldn't tell how much of this was due to the staging/choregraphy or the editing, but it was often really hard to tell who was who and what was going on at any given moment. This is often a problem with musicals that are sung-through or mostly sung-through, and it doesn't help when the staging is confusing and the sound isn't great!

As for John Legend, well, the man's not an actor. But I found "Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)" and the Crucifixion scene really moving. He definitely comes across as a blank slate but I felt some real sympathy for him in this terrible, terrifying situation he was in.

I love this whole new-ish genre of live musicals. Some of them are terrible, most are mediocre, but I love that musical theater is getting so much love these days.
posted by lunasol at 1:01 PM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm only just getting to this now, but just the overture convinced me that I was right all along about these live productions absolutely needing the audience. The hair on the back of my neck stood up when Legend took the stage. While the iconic motif was part of it, the crowd going crazy made it so much better. The past Meron and Zadan productions that NBC aired felt so sterile. The audience really brings the production to life.

I'm only up to “I Don't Know How to Love Him,"” and I'm convinced this show blows all those others before it out of the water. Just outstanding.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:10 PM on April 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


The thing I love the most about this musical is that every character is given earned empathy. Everyone has motivations! And not just any, but good motivations! That's what I look for in a production: is every character presented for our compassion, as if they could have been the hero, if only circumstances were just a little different?

As much as I enjoyed this, it failed by my standard a bit. Pilate doesn't come across fully sympathetically. And the Pharisees--who do deserve sympathy, if you pay attention to the lyrics, but so rarely are staged as such--seemed a little too villainous.
posted by meese at 6:12 PM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Note - the complete show w/o commercials is up on Hulu now too.

I've been thinking about Alice Cooper as Herod, and while I did truthfully enjoy him, I also agree that it wasn't as powerful/campy/fun/strong as it could have been. So I've been brainstorming "icons" who might have made the role more awesome, and oddly enough, I keep coming back to Ringo Starr! It's not song with much range, so we wouldn't have to worry about him having to reach, and he certainly has the personality/charisma, name recognition, and history of being a goofball--plus he has acting "experience," as much as any of The Beatles do from their films.

(My first instinct was that Bowie would have walked away with the whole show, and then I remembered. Man, I hate that kind of remembering.)
posted by tzikeh at 6:23 PM on April 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would’ve liked to see Adam Lambert as Herod.
posted by epj at 7:58 PM on April 3, 2018


Now that I've finished watching this, I just wanted to come back and offer special praise for Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas. I found his performance extremely moving. Indeed, I choked up a couple of times there at the end and it was quite surprising to this bitter and jaded old sinner.

Looking back through the thread before posting, I see I'm not alone in thinking he was really great. Also, he gave the Wakanda salute during his curtain call and I am here for it.

I must admit that although I've seen the movie at least once or twice, and was of course familiar with the score, I didn't really remember the book very well. I'm always disappointed when a Jesus story concentrates on the Passion and leaves out the most important part, the Sermon on the Mount.

Anyway I really loved this and I'm very glad I made time to watch it. It was this, The Ten Commandments or King of Kings and I made the right choice.

Plus, as John Johnson said, "That's three hours of live musical theatre on primetime network television. That's a win."
posted by ob1quixote at 9:03 PM on April 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


The flying out of the cross was one of the most amazing pieces of stagecraft I've ever seen.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 2:54 PM on April 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


“The Resurrection of ‘Jesus,’” Julie Polter, Sojourners, 09 April 2018
posted by ob1quixote at 8:22 PM on April 10, 2018


“The Story of Jesus Christ Superstar” [15:12]Polyphonic, 18 April 2019
posted by ob1quixote at 2:52 PM on April 21 [1 favorite]


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