Alice Cooper to Star in NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar

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In recent years, many TV networks in the U.S. have been airing live broadcasts of such popular musicals as The Sound of Music, Hairspray and Grease. The productions have featured such big-name performers as Carrie Underwood and Queen Latifah. Last May 10, when NBC announced it would produce a live staging of the iconic 1971 Broadway rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, no stars were attached to the event.

That changed on Dec. 8, when it was revealed that, in an inspired bit of casting, Alice Cooper would be starring as King Herod, in the live television broadcast to air on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018. The news was first revealed by The Hollywood Reporter.

Jesus Christ Superstar, with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, was originally conceived as a 1970 concept album with Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan as Jesus, Murray Head as Judas Iscariot, Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene and Mike D’Abo as King Herod. The recording hit #1 on the Billboard album chart, and eventually made its way to the stage in 1971. It is based on the final week of Jesus’ life.

On Dec. 19, NBC revealed that John Legend was cast in the titular role. Sara Bareilles stars as Mary Magdalene.

Back in May, Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment, said: “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.” Greenblatt told THR on Dec. 8: “Alice Cooper, whose theatricality is the stuff of legend, is the perfect rock star to play Herod in our live production.”

Listen to Cooper sing “King Herod’s Song” in 1996

British theater veteran David Leveaux will direct the production. No other cast members have been announced.

Related: Cooper will be joining his Hollywood Vampires bandmates Joe Perry and Johnny Depp on tour in 2018

Cooper’s most recent studio album, Paranormal, was released in 2017. On Dec. 13, he released a video for “The Sound of A.”

The 1971 musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway and starred Jeff Fenholt as Jesus and Ben Vereen as Judas. It was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Vereen. Lloyd Webber won a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Composer.

Since then, the musical has been considered a classic and has been performed in nearly 20 countries and translated into 18 different languages. There have been many revivals of Jesus Christ Superstar over the 46 years since its debut, including 2000 and 2012 Broadway versions that each earned a Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Musical.

Watch Murray Head perform the title track

Related: Our interview with Alice Cooper

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are icons of musical theater, with hits spanning six decades. Their other major works together are Evita (1976) and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1968).

With 18 musicals to his credit, Lloyd Webber is considered the most successful composer of musicals in history and has won numerous awards, including seven Tonys, three Grammys, and an Oscar.

His musicals also include Cats (1981), The Phantom of the Opera (1986), Sunset Boulevard (1993) and School of Rock (2015).

Lyricist Tim Rice is an Oscar, Golden Globe, Tony and Grammy winner. He has been nominated for five Oscars and won three for Best Original Song – from Evita for “You Must Love Me” (shared with Lloyd Webber), The Lion King for “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” (shared with Elton John) and Aladdin for “A Whole New World” (shared with Alan Menken).

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