PERFORMING ARTS

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’: Behind the Scenes of the Worldwide Musical Phenomenon

Applause Dec. 2023. 322p. ISBN 9781493068043. $36.95. THEATER
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Fifty years after his first book on the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Nassour (Rock Opera: The Creation of “Jesus Christ Superstar”) provides firsthand accounts of Superstar’s entire journey, from the personal histories of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice and their partnership on it to its eventual development into a stage production. The book shows that by the age of 14, Lloyd Webber was shopping around his musicals (he’d already written eight), while Rice, who had a lifelong fascination with Judas Iscariot, is portrayed as a young womanizer trying to break into music. Recognizing the current infiltration of pop music by Christianity, the two eventually embarked on a journey together to showcase Christ as a man. The show’s development was rocky; they lost the director after a bad car wreck, started rehearsals without a script, and experienced ongoing sound issues and divided factions backstage. While plagued by both religious protestors and fans begging cast members for miracles, Superstar ran on Broadway for two years and in the UK for eight years, followed by a film, three revivals, and a recent live television production.
VERDICT Musical theater enthusiasts and Superstar devotees will appreciate this candid perspective, the interviews with the show’s legends, and the stunning collection of photos.
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