Jesus Christ Superstar opened on Broadway on Oct. 12, 1971. Granted, it’s more than four decades old, and it tackles the source not a denomination, but Jesus Christ Superstar is more controversial and has received more criticism than The Book of Mormon. Jesus Christ Superstar is based on the Gospels and tells the story of the last week of Jesus’ life (but not his resurrection). The musical examines the motives and intentions of Jesus and those around him. Some Christians believe Jesus Christ Superstar is too sympathetic to Judas Iscariot and some Jews believe the musical blames them for the crucifixion.
Will Jesus Christ Superstar offend you? If you’re okay with the idea of a rock opera about Jesus Christ from a secularist point of view (and if you like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music) then you’ll probably be just fine. If you’re concerned by anything you’ve read here then you might want to skip the Jesus Christ Superstar tickets and go see Phantom, Cats, or Stephen Ward.
Jesus Christ Superstar began as a concept album (much like Evita). Ian Gillan sang the part of Jesus Christ and Murray Head was cast as Judas. Also involved in the album was Yvonne Elliman. You don’t think about it ever happening but in early 1971 numerous unauthorized productions of Jesus Christ Superstar popped up all over America. These illegal productions attracted the attention of the creators’ lawyers. Hundreds of productions were shut down and a major precedent in copyright law was established.
Jesus Christ Superstar is one of the all-time great Broadway musicals but it has won exactly zero Tony Awards. That also includes the 2000 and 2011 revivals. Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote the music and Tim Rice penned the lyrics. Rice took liberties with the language and used idioms and imagery familiar to today’s audiences but foreign to those living in Jesus’ time. Highlights of the musical are “This Jesus Must Die,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “King Herod’s Song (Try it and See),” and “Superstar.”