Great Performances: Season 29, Episode 11

Jesus Christ Superstar (11 Apr. 2001)

TV Episode  -   -  Biography | Drama | Music
7.3
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A rock musical version of the Passion Play seen from the point of view of Judas.

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Title: Jesus Christ Superstar (11 Apr 2001)

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Glenn Carter ...
Jérôme Pradon ...
Judas Iscariot (as Jerome Pradon)
Renée Castle ...
Fred Johanson ...
...
Frederick B. Owens ...
Michael Shaeffer ...
...
...
Peter
Pete Gallagher ...
First Priest (as Peter Gallagher)
Michael McCarthy ...
Second Priest
Philip Cox ...
Third Priest
...
Apostle / Ensemble (as Matthew Cross)
Kevin Curtin ...
Paul Vickers ...
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Storyline

The Passion of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of Judas. This popular rock musical is based on the 1996 London/2000 Broadway revivals of the show, directed by Gale Edwards. Re-orchestrated and set to modern times, it is not the Superstar of the 70's but rather one for the 21st Century. Written by Anonymous

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11 April 2001 (USA)  »

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Trivia

Glenn Carter played Jesus as a political leader who let things get out of control rather than as a divine person. See more »

Quotes

Judas: You have set them all on fire. Heh! They think they've found their new messiah! And they'll hurt you when they find they're wrong!
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Connections

Featured in The 100 Greatest Musicals (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wow!
28 January 2004 | by (Bridgeport, WV) – See all my reviews

I had heard of Jesus Christ Superstar before from, of all people, an eight-year-old who was an avid fan, but the very title was enough to throw me off. Then, my sister's high school made the very gutsy decision to use it as their spring all-school musical. Her enthusiasm for it caught my interest. I listened to the London Concept soundtrack and loved it, then watched both this movie and the 1973 version. There is absolutely no comparison. As Jesus, Ted Neely (sp?) always seemed to be sleepy or something, except for his breaking up the marketplace in the temple. But Glenn Carter - wow. Not only can he express the torment of a man who knows that he was only born to die ("To conquer death, you only have to die"...who can forget that??), that his very best friends will deny and betray him, and that he might never get recognition for what he is about to do; he can also display such radiant joy that it is impossible not to smile with him. In the "Hosanna" scene, that gorgeous smile of his just shines with heavenly light - until the Israelites suggest that he die for them. His voice is lovely, but the true shining light in this production is Jerome Pradon's Judas Iscariot.

Usually portrayed as a villain, Pradon's Judas is disillusioned, irritated with Jesus for not doing something about his followers' misguided ideas, and torn between civic duty and love for his best friend. Some have described his voice as not up to snuff, but Judas is arguably one of the most complex characters in the history of theater. Consumed by confusion, anger, helplessness, and guilt, whose voice could NOT crack? The Last Supper and the Betrayal always leave me in tears: Judas' last desperate attempt to understand Jesus, his agonized betrayal of him and Jesus' subsequent forgiveness, followed by his realization that he has been tricked into murdering his best friend by a silent God, and his final grasp at control over his own life by hanging himself.

More pluses: Renee Castle's Mary Magdalene is heart-wrenching as she comes to grips with the fact that she loves a man who will never love her back - moreover, that she doesn't want him to. Simon Zealotes, as a gun-toting militant, represents the many people who thought that Jesus had come to Earth to fight a war against the Romans. Pilate is magnificent, if a little over-acted - a man who does not know what to make of Jesus, who seems so small and helpless, but possesses an inner strength and power that frightens Pilate, who was, everyone must remember, an unwilling accomplice in Jesus' death. Rik Mayall's Herod is hilarious, but something in his facial expression sends chills up one's spine - he may be loopy, but he's nobody to mess with. Finally, although I know Annas is not a comedic character, his voice kills me every time. The perfect weasel-y villain next to Caiaphas' almost too deep bass!

Some common complaints by Christians: First, that Jesus is portrayed as too human. I beg everyone to remember that Jesus was human, and that the night of his arrest he prayed so earnestly for God to save his life that he began to sweat blood. Second, that everything is not portrayed as it is in the Bible. If this worries you, please remember that the Gospel was written by other disciples, and even by people who never knew Jesus personally. The point of the play is to see events through Judas' eyes. As we can never know Judas' feelings and thoughts, this is only someone's attempt to understand how the events of the Gospel may have appeared to him. Third, that the Resurrection portrayed in the Bible is not part of the film. Again, remember that this is Judas' story. Judas did not know that Jesus would rise again. All he knew was that Jesus would die, and that is what the movie portrays.

Now for my few complaints. The actor who plays Caiaphas tries so hard to sing contrabass that often he misses notes and rhythms. Jesus' destruction of the marketplace was not as good as it could have been, what with all the TVs everywhere: the one element in which I prefer the 1973 version. Judas' suicide is rather too long drawn out, and almost loses its importance. But these are minor problems. All in all, I would give this movie two huge thumbs up!


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