Theatre
Thursday, 08 March 2007 06:00

Ted Neeley Regains his Crown in Jesus Christ Superstar

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Jesus Christ Superstar Ted Neeley PhotoIf you’ve ever watched Norm Jewison’s 1973 screen adaptation of Tim Rice Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar you were no doubt taken by Ted Neeley’s unique, but masterful, portrayal of Jesus Christ. Neely, who received Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor and Best Newcomer for his role, shined as Christ rocked his way through the final days leading up to his crucifixion.

Jesus Christ Superstar Ted Neeley PhotoIf you’ve ever watched Norm Jewison’s 1973 screen adaptation of Tim Rice Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar you were no doubt taken by Ted Neeley’s unique, but masterful, portrayal of Jesus Christ. Neely, who received Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor and Best Newcomer for his role, shined as Christ rocked his way through the final days leading up to his crucifixion. Controversial at the time, Jesus Christ Superstar has since become not only a film favorite but has also become one of the most popular musical plays to hit theatre stages. Of course most would argue that the best theatre version has been with Ted Neeley himself. After Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) originally sang the part of Jesus on the original 1970 album release, Neely soon took over and became the true face of the production. After a hiatus from the role, Neeley again joined the cast for the Jesus Christ Superstar AD Tour that ran from 1992-1997 giving fans the true sense and excitement of the original making 20 years after its inception. During that run, fans were treated to Neeley’s vocal prowess and dynamic performance once more– a pleasure that some thought would never happen again. Critics were overwhelmed with Neely’s presentation and fans repeatedly packed theatre after theatre.

Now, at 63 years old, Neeley once again takes the stage as Jesus in, what has been named as, Jesus Christ Superstar: The Farewell Tour, even though Neeley may have another go at it. According to reviewers, Neeley is as just as brilliant and commanding as where he left off in 1997. One reviewer stated that Neeley’s age should not even be a concern, claiming his singing range is as broad as ever and praising his efforts on such signature pieces as “Gethsemane” and “The Temple”. Corey Glover, of Grammy winning platinum selling rock band Living Colour fame, also appears as Judas.

The first collaboration between Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to be performed on the professional stage, Jesus Christ Superstar is one of the most popular and enduring works ever created for the musical theatre. Featuring such notable songs as “Superstar”, “Everything’s Alright” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”, Jesus Christ Superstar earned five Tony nominations.

Director Dallett Norris (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Can-Can, South Pacific) says, "What could be better than having Ted Neeley, so grand in the film, on board as we delve into Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s brilliant musical telling of this timeless story.”

A veteran attendee of Jesus Christ Superstar, I’ve seen Neeley perform on several occasions and was never disappointed barring an appearance at the Rosemont Theatre in which his understudy John Butler performed in his stead because of illness. You won’t want to miss your chance to see Ted Neeley as the tour hits the Chicagoland area April 4th at the Rialto Theatre in Joliet. Springfield and Indiana dates also follow. For more information go to thejcstour.com.

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