Great Performances (1971– )
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Jesus Christ Superstar 

A rock musical version of the Passion Play seen from the point of view of Judas.

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Glenn Carter ...
Jérôme Pradon ...
Judas Iscariot (as Jerome Pradon)
Renée Castle ...
Mary Magdalene
Fred Johanson ...
...
Frederick B. Owens ...
...
...
...
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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Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

11 April 2001 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?

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

Jesus: Can you show me now that I would not be killed in vain? Show me just a little of your omnipresent brain! Show me there's a reason for you wanting me to die! You're far too keen on when and how, and not so hot on why!
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Connections

Version of Jesus Christ Superstar (2013) See more »

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User Reviews

'Understand what power is'
12 April 2001 | by (Minnesota, USA) – See all my reviews

As a fan of JCS for almost thirty years, I hadn't expected to see as moving, deft, or gorgeous a production -- especially not on film -- as this. Aesthetically, at least, the work seemed locked in its time, as much imprisoned by late 60s guitar music as by the dusty, overwrought 1973 film by Norman Jewison and the various traveling productions that clunkily preserved the era's design fetishes. For the longest time, the best way to approach JCS has been on your stereo. Which is a pity; it's a musical, for chrissakes.

So Gale Edwards' version is a surprise, and a right nice one. She's correct to design and stage this for the post-MTV generation, a decision that pays off hugely in scenes that imagine Caiaphas and his priests as corporate boardroom cutthroats or Simon's beseeching of Jesus to "add a touch of hate at Rome" while the crowd heedlessly and joyously lofts machine guns. If it's flash, it's intelligent flash, keen takes on the themes of revolt and its repercussions. It's witty, too: her Herod doing gay burlesque is the best visualization to date for Webber and Rice's memorable set piece. Some will feel Edwards' gambles in the last quarter of the work - discomfortingly blending bloody realism with the mordantly surreal and the leeringly profane - are reaching, and they are, somewhat, but they don't betray the production. This isn't giddy "Godspell," after all; it's a story about political murder.

The performances by the principles are superb. JCS is really Judas' story, and here Jerome Pradon's skulking, wincing, exasperated Judas is always watchable, and his singing good, although the limits of his range occasionally show. Rene Castle as Magdalene is fine enough to make you forget Yvonne Elliman; her shift between erotic spell and damaged idealism is something to see. Glenn Carter as Jesus, looking something like a youthful Robert Plant and sounding not unlike him, too, conceives his role as a troubled, unsure savior, an interpretation vastly better than those of his many predecessors in the role who relied on know-it-all saintliness (something the play's text doesn't support, anyway). Other standouts: Fred Johanson's stalking fascistic Pilate, and Rik Mayall's hilarious Herod.

Judging from the ongoing appeal of Christianity, the Greatest Story Ever Told doesn't need revitalizing, at least not in the eyes of its adherents, but JCS did. Edwards' many grace notes are perhaps not as important as her best gift to the story: locating it convincingly in a dark and ferocious political world and reminding that the official tolerance for justice, mercy, and charity is no greater two millenia later. Future messiahs, beware.


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