"Jesus Christ Superstar: Live in Concert" took over the airwaves on NBC for Easter Sunday, and it was a rousing success by most counts, including Twitter engagement throughout the evening on Sunday. Of course, with John Legend as its star wife Chrissy Teigen was live-tweeting the whole thing, but she wasn't the only one from Hollywood and beyond enamored with the stripped-down production.
Starring the likes of Legend, Sara Bareilles, Brandon Victor Dixon and Alice Cooper, it was both a broader and bolder stage production and smaller than most recent live productions, taking place primarily on one stage. Much like "Rocky Horror Picture Show" -- but used far more effectively -- this one also incorporated a live audience, but as the action was literally taking place on a stage it actually made sense.
We've broken down below the aspects of this take on the classic musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice that got the most online chatter, both good and bad.
Before you could even get to the production, you had to get past Chrissy Teigen's Twitter feed. Legend's wife is an expert on the social media platform, and she was well prepared to live-tweet the Sunday evening festivities, offering some insight into her husband's preparatation and clapping back at the haters -- as she does -- like Bill O'Reilly, who fell into the camp of offended conservatives, which "JCS" has been dealing with since its 1970 premiere.
Watching JC Superstar on NBC. Who knew Jesus of Nazareth ran a tattoo parlor? Geez.
The production was modernized to the present era, with cell phones erupting at the climactic crucifixion scene and everyone looking like they just got back from a too-hip-for-school showing of "Rent." But like Baz Luhrmann's classic "Romeo + Juliet," the modernization didn't take away from the production, and in fact made it feel more palpable and current than ever. This is a story of man's capacity for cruelty and forgiveness, and that message is both timely and timeless.
Jesus Christ Superstar features a lot more razorback tank tops than I personally remember from the bible...
Well done @nbc and #jesus christ superstar live and #JesusChristSuperstarLive cast. You took on an iconic peice of musical theater and made it your own with a modern look. Great casting. Great blocking. Great costuming. You should all be proud.
Jesus Christ Superstar was actually....really well done and a tasteful modern spin on something from my mother's time and I genuinely enjoyed it! The casting was perfect and wow it was just really good!
It's not the first time we've experienced technical difficulties during a live television production, but it's especially egregious when you're talking about a live musical production and you can't get the sound mix straight. The vocals were too often overwhelmed by the backing music and even that live audience at times. We didn't come to hear people screaming, we came to hear why they're screaming.
This might be an unpopular opinion. But who ever did the sound mixing for Jesus Christ superstar live should be fired and then sent into the sun. The band is over powering the singers to the point they are drowning them out at the best moments.
He may not have had the imagined gravitas of Jesus Christ, but he certainly had the cool and calm demeanor. Granted, cool and calm is kind of what John Legend is all about, but not having to stretch too far to capture a solid portrayal of Jesus certainly helped Legend and the production stand tall.
With pop and rock musicians in most of the lead roles, it was "Hamilton" star Brandon Victor Dixon who took the production to the next level as Judas, as it should be. The meatiest and most important role in the entirety of "Superstar," Dixon brought every bit of his Aaron Burr frustration and anger into the angriest man in the bible, and it worked beautifully.
While primarily known as a pop star, Bareilles has just finished a successful Broadway run on "Waitress," for which she wrote the songs. That extra stage experience really helped her belt out her songs with more conviction and passion than even Legend and some of the other cast-members. Mary Magdalene never looked so sympathetic or misunderstood.
A lot was said about the stripped down stage production, but no one was prepared for the epic costuming -- all that glitters and shines! -- and those coats. You could tell whether someone was good or evil just by their coats alone. It was like the "Matrix"-era Wachowskis consulted on this. "What you need here is a good coat."
I don't know anything about Jesus Christ Superstar, but the triangle coats the high priest guys are wearing are freaking awesome and I want one very badly.
Jesus Christ Superstar live is full of LOOKS? Long, textured leather coats for the high priests? Squad goals. Pilate in the Maroon leather suit with a shirt with gold deco details? ICONIC. John Legend's personal bath robe? Legendary.
Many people were touting and marveling that Andrew Lloyd Webber was only 22-years old when he wrote "Jesus Christ Superstar" in 1970 with Tim Rice, which would go on to be one of his most enduring musicals. He would, of course, go on to even greater heights with "Evita," "Cats," and "The Phantom of the Opera." Meanwhile, Twitter saw this as proof that young voices deserve to be heard and given a chance.
And then there were those who were just excited about everything. The musical, as it has since it was first introduced to the world, had its detractors because it's a different take on the Crucifixion story, and that's hard for some people to deal with. But the overall consensus online was that this was a rousing success, a lot of fun, and perhaps the shiniest production to ever hit the airwaves.
“Superstar” was full of em tonight. @johnlegend reimagined that score and the central performance. Not easy. @BrandonVDixon gave us a Judas for the ages. It will hold up! @CamilleABrown's work was surprising and so smart. @paulgtazewell's work was clutch. Congrats all! Loved it.
Jesus Christ Superstar Live falls into the elite category of best live musicals. I'm not ashamed to say I cried at the curtain call. Wow! It's a d*mn shame broadway doesn't play this anymore. Sad!#JesusChristSuperstarLive
Today I woke up from my annual Easter nap and walked into my living room and was surprised to see John Legend and Sarah Bareilles absolutely CRUSHING Jesus Christ Superstar on the tv??? 😫🙌🏽 What a gift😍 Happy Easter kiddos & i hope yours was as great as mine🙏🏾💃🏾