Something's Rotten about this 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

Written by Scott Mervis on .


Buried in the middle of the second paragraph of the press release about the touring “Jesus Christ Superstar” is this little bombshell:

“English singer-songwriter and lead singer in Public Image Ltd. (PiL) and Sex Pistols, John Rotten Lydon, will play ‘King Herod’.”

This is absolutely classic (!) starting with the dainty reference to Rotten as “English singer-songwriter.”

“I’m here to sing with the King of the Jews, who could ask for anything more?” the punk rocker says in the release.

His previous experience for this would be working with Malcolm McLaren — Jewish King of the Punks in England. (As for acting, he was most notably in the 1983 film "Corrupt" with Harvey Keitel, and you have to figure this is better than him playing a hippie in "Hair.")

Herod has all of one song in “JCS,” but Rotten is likely to draw an inordinate amount of the attention for this production.

The 50-plus city tour, which hits Consol Energy Center on Aug. 12, also stars Brandon Boyd of Incubus as Judas, ‘N Sync vocalist JC Chasez, as Pontius Pilate, Destiny’s Child Michelle Williams as Mary Magdalene and young Brit Ben Forster, who won England’s ITV Superstar competition in 2012, as Jesus. There will be more 50 cast and musicians on stage.

Andrew Lloyd Webber notes in the release: “Jesus Christ Superstar began life as a rock album...probably because nobody believed back in 1969 that you could present a stage musical about the last days of the life of Jesus Christ. I shall never forget its first live performance in the Civic Arena, Pittsburgh on July 12th 1971. Of course JCS subsequently became a legit theatre stalwart, but I, personally, have always hankered after seeing it again in the arenas where it started.”

Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan sang on the original album, but that first arena tour featured Jeff Fenholt (who became a Christian evangelist and claimed to be a member of Black Sabbath briefly in 1985) as Jesus, Carl Anderson as Judas, and Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene (the latter two also played in the film and Broadway versions).

Co-creator Tim Rice added: “In 1971 Andrew and I were thrilled by the first-ever Jesus Christ Superstar tour of the United States. We certainly did not imagine then that 43 years later we would be witnessing another America-wide tour of our first big hit show. We are delighted and grateful that enthusiasm for Superstar has been maintained over the years and this new production presents the work in its most powerful format — as a true rock experience.”

Boyd noted: “I grew up on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classics and never imagined I would be playing a role in one, let alone with such an incredibly diverse cast of players. Truly an honor!”

The tour kicks off on June 9 and runs through Aug. 17, so Pittsburgh is at the tail end.

We’ll have to hope that Jesus or one of his disciples doesn’t strangle the abrasive Rotten before they get here.

Me? I'm only going if this ends with an encore medley of Sex Pistols/'N Sync/Incubus songs.

Tickets details will be announced soon. American Express® Card Members can purchase tickets before the general public beginning Friday, April 4 at 10am local time. They range from $29.50 to $125 plus applicable fees and service charges. In addition, a limited number of Gold Circle tickets and Superstar Premium VIP packages are available.


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