JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: 50th Anniversary Tour

I saw Jesus Christ Superstar back in the early 1970s. It was regarded as “cutting edge” and “avant-gard” at the time. Jesus Christ Superstar was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics).

My favorite song in the musical is a moving ballad sung by the character of Mary Magdalene who in Jesus Christ Superstar is presented as dealing with an unrequited love for the title character. Mary Magdalene sings “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” to express her conflicted feelings. “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” is unique for having two versions concurrently in the Top 30 of the Hot 100 chart at the time in Billboard magazine by Helen Reddy and Yvonne Elliman. But, below is my preferred version sung by Sarah Brightman. Today, Diane and I travel down to Shea’s Performing Arts Center to see Jesus Christ Superstar. Have you seen Jesus Christ Superstar? Do you have a favorite song from this musical?
Act One
“Overture” – Orchestra
“Heaven on Their Minds” – Judas
“What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying” – Jesus, Judas, Mary and Apostles
“Then We are Decided” – Caiaphas, Annas, Priests
“Everything’s Alright” – Mary, Judas, Jesus, Women, Apostles
“This Jesus Must Die” – Caiaphas, Annas, Priests
“Hosanna” – Jesus, Caiaphas and Company
“Simon Zealotes/Poor Jerusalem” – Jesus, Simon and Company
“Pilate’s Dream” – Pilate
“The Temple” – Jesus, Ensemble
“Everything’s Alright (reprise)” – Mary, Jesus
“I Don’t Know How to Love Him” – Mary
“Damned For All Time/Blood Money” – Judas, Annas, Caiaphas, Choir
Act Two
“The Last Supper” – Jesus, Judas, Apostles
“Gethsemane (I Only Want to Say)” – Jesus
“The Arrest” – Judas, Jesus, Peter, Apostles, Annas, Caiaphas, Ensemble
“Peter’s Denial” – Maid by the Fire, Peter, Soldier, Old Man, Mary
“Pilate and Christ” – Pilate, Soldier, Jesus, Ensemble
“King Herod’s Song” – Herod and Company
“Could We Start Again Please?” – Mary and Peter
“Judas’ Death” – Judas, Annas, Caiaphas, Ensemble
“Trial Before Pilate” – Pilate, Caiaphas, Jesus, Ensemble
“Superstar” – Judas, Soul Sisters, Angels
“The Crucifixion” – Jesus, Ensemble
“John Nineteen: Forty-One” – Orchestra

34 thoughts on “JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR: 50th Anniversary Tour

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    I have only seen the movie version and was not impressed. Never been a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber. Past girlfriends have made me sit through Cats and Phantom and I was bored to death.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    We saw the original version in London in the ’70s, as well as I can remember without my list of shows. It was OK, certainly not my favorite, but then I’ve always preferred Sondheim to Lloyd Webber. Jackie recently watched the live version with John Legend, which she thought was soso. That is indeed the most memorable song. The only Andrew Lloyd Webber show we’ve really liked (and have seen two or three times) was JOSEPH & THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, which is a lot of fun. We had free tickets to see the production at Brooklyn Academy of Music in the mid-70s which starred Cleavon (“‘Scuse me while I whip this out”) Little as the Narrator, and I think we even saw Donny Osmond one time. When Jackie was teaching, she and another teacher put on a production of the show that used multiple classes (at her insistence), including a special ed class. I can still remember going to Little Korea in Manhattan shopping for cowboy hats and other props for the various set pieces. Her class got to do “One More Angel in Heaven” or “Those Canaan Days.”

    /end aside

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, my favorite Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is the rarely performed STARLIGHT EXPRESS where all the actors are on roller skates. STARLIGHT EXPRESS’s music was by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Richard Stilgoe.

    2. maggie mason

      I agree with Jackie about the John Legend version, but a lot of that had to do with the sets. I also liked Joseph/Dreamcoat.

      The first show I saw in London (years ago) was Starlight express. I hated it. I remember thinking it was just too noisy (skates). Later I was surprised to learn it was Lloyd Weber, most of whose other shows I’ve seen I’ve enjoyed. The exception was the follow up to Phantom. It was soso at best. I didn’t see sunset express, but heard good things about it.

      Steve should get the good boyfriend award for seeing stuff he doesn’t like so often.

      My favorite song is Superstar, though I like don’t know how to love him and all right.

      1. george Post author

        Maggie, I saw STARLIGHT EXPRESS back in the early 1980s when it came to Buffalo. I loved the skating and the actors moving around a track that extended into the audience. I haven’t seen anything like it.

  3. Jeff Meyerson

    OK, I take that back. I also liked SCHOOL OF ROCK a lot, much more than I expected to. The worst was the awful STARLIGHT EXPRESS, the bad followup to CATS, where instead of singing and dancing cats – who are, at least, alive – you had singing and dancing …locomotives? Terrible. I didn’t like SUNSET BOULEVARD either.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I liked the skaters in STARLIGHT EXPRESS. I thought SUNSET BOULEVARD was the weakest of Lloyd Webber’s musicals that I’ve seen although I have heard that the “sequel” to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA–LOVE NEVER DIES–is terrible.

  4. Deb

    I may have seen a community theater production back in the day, but I was never a fan. I know when it premiered it was supposed to be new and edgy, but as a regular churchgoer and someone who considers herself a Christian (but most certainly not of the Trumpster Evangelical type), I think the musical completely misses the whole meaning of the “new covenant” (I actually think “Godspell” did a much better job of that). That being said, the song I like best In JCS is “Everything’s Alright,” which I find to be pretty in a very pop-ish way. As for Andrew Lloyd Webber, I couldn’t express it any better than Crowded House in their song, “Chocolate Cake”:

    “Not everyone in New York would pay to see Andrew Lloyd Webber
    May his trousers fall down as he bows to the queen and the crown
    I don’t know what tune that the orchestra played
    But it went by me sickly and sentimental

    Can I have another piece of chocolate cake
    Tammy Baker’s got a lot on her plate
    Can I buy another cheap Picasso fake
    Andy Warhol must be laughing in his grave“

    1. george Post author

      Deb, you’re right about GODSPELL. It’s been almost 50 years since I’ve seen Jesus Christ SUPERSTAR so I’m wondering if this version we’re seeing today has been “modified.”

  5. Patti Abbott

    I saw it at Stratford a few years ago. It is the only ALW production I like. That production went to Broadway and bombed. They replaced the best Judas I have ever seen. Maybe that is why.

    1. george Post author

      Patti, I’ll be interested to see the cast of this touring company of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. Plus, after 50 years, what changes are they making–if any–to the production.

  6. Dan

    There’s an obscure little film from 1989, THE TALL GUY, with Jeff Goldblum, Emma Thompson & Rowan Atkinson, that features a dead-on parody of a Lloyd Webber musical.

    As for JCSS it’s got some good stuff in it, but I was always bothered that it told the Story of Christ without the Resurrection, which is rather like…. well there’s no metaphor quite big enough, is there?

  7. Jeff Meyerson

    I love THE TALL GUY. It was Emma Thompson’s first big movie after her television breakthrough two years earlier with TUTTI FRUTTI and FORTUNES OF WAR.

    Jackie informs me:

    1. We saw the original Broadway production of SUPERSTAR, but we missed Ben Vereen as Judas.
    2. We did NOT see Donny Osmond in JOSEPH.

      1. Jeff Meyerson

        Speaking of the spectacle…When Jackie was teaching, I used to carefully study the offers in the bimonthly union newspaper because they often had great offers, like tickets for Yankees games at reasonable prices. I had no real interest in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, but they had it on offer so we sent for tickets at a time when they were very hard to come by. Not only did we get the tickets, but I felt like Bob Uecker – the tickets were in the SECOND ROW of the orchestra! We were IN FRONT OF the falling chandelier.

      2. george Post author

        Jeff, great story! Today, I was checking my email and saw that one of Diane’s favorite NPR programs, WAIT WAIT DON’T TELL ME is coming to Buffalo in April for a live performance. I told Diane and she immediately had me order tickets. A few minutes later, on the weekly NPR broadcast of WAIT WAIT they announced the event and tickets sales went through the roof. The entire first floor of Shea’s Performing Arts Center–where the event will occur–sold out before the program was over! Only the balcony seats remain and I’m sure they’re going fast, too!

  8. wolf

    I have to confess (pun intended …) that I can’t stand musicals – and neither operas nor operette. I only go to real Blues&Rock concerts, musicals are too much kitsch for me, can’t stand that kind of music at all.
    To each his own …
    The only musical I saw on tv was HAIR – a long, long time ago …

    1. george Post author

      Wolf, my parents took me to musicals at an early age. Their favorite was OKLAHOMA. We also had plenty of record albums in our home so I listened to BREAKFAST AT TIFFANYS, CAMELOT, and the early James Bond movie soundtracks frequently.

      1. maggie mason

        I was not a fan of Hugh Jackman until I saw him in Oklahoma. I love the music, but the story, not so much

  9. Jeff Meyerson

    When Jackie was a kid, her mother got tickets – usually the cheapest seats at the top of the balcony – for every musical on Broadway. Whereas if I went with my mother it was more likely to be heavier fare like WAIT UNTIL DARK and INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE. In those days there was a real difference in ticket prices between the orchestra and upstairs. Nowadays the entire orchestra and at least the front mezzanine are the same high price. I can remember going to see COMPANY in July of 1972 at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London (we had already seen it in New York, but most of the American cast was in it) and sitting in the top of the very high balcony for 75p a ticket, which was about $1.75!

      1. Steve Oerkfitz

        I was exposed to musicals( Oklahoma, Bye Bye Birdie, The King and I, and the worst two The Sound of Music and The Music Man) at a very early age and with a few exceptions I would rather have root canal surgery.

  10. Cap'n Bob Napier

    We saw JCS a long time ago in Seattle, starring Short Ted (can’t remember his last name)! My favorite song is also “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” but, alas, the Mary Magdalene was a black chick who did all the ohhs, and ahhs and soulish crap like she was Tina Turner! And everyone held a microphone, including a Pharasee with a dead one! I didn’t enjoy the show that much!

    1. george Post author

      Bob, I know what you mean by the proliferation of microphones in JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. In the touring company version we saw today, just about every cast member had one.

  11. Jeff Smith

    I bought the original album and played it a lot. I think it changed my view of Judas.

    And I liked the John Legend version.

    1. george Post author

      Jeff, I had the original album, too. But when I switched to CDs I sold all my albums. We had a vinyl store that would pay a $1 for any album. It’s still in business.

  12. Prashant C. Trikannad

    George, some years ago, our family were glued to the television watching Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Any Dream Will Do” talent contest. It was probably the last one, I think. I have not seen “Jesus Christ Superstar”.

    1. george Post author

      Prashant, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR created a sensation when it opened in the U.S. back in 1970. It was an early rock musical that created a new market for the genre.


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