Rock opera and musical theater staple Jesus Christ Superstar will see its Second Coming this summer, as Johnny Rotten, Incubus' Brandon Boyd, *NSYNC’s JC Chasez and former Destiny’s Child’s singer Michelle Williams have all signed on for a 51-city arena tour launching June 9th in New Orleans. British singer/actor Ben Forster, who’s performed the role since September 2012 for UK and Australian tours, will continue to play the titular role.
The Andrew Lloyd Webber- and Tim Rice-penned musical about the last days of Jesus Christ originally debuted in arenas back in 1971, and this latest incarnation is a return to its initial conceit. "Jesus Christ Superstar began life as a rock album," Webber said in a release. "Of course, JCS subsequently became a legit theatre stalwart, but I, personally, have always hankered after seeing it again in the arenas where it started." Webber and Rice are known for their contributions to mega-hit musicals like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Evita, among others.
"In 1971, Andrew and I were thrilled by the first-ever Jesus Christ Superstar tour of the United States," Rice said in the announcement. "We certainly did not imagine then that 43 years later we would be witnessing another America-wide tour of our first big hit show. We are delighted and grateful that enthusiasm for Superstar has been maintained over the years and this new production presents the work in its most powerful format – as a true rock experience."
A press conference held Friday afternoon included three live performances of the show’s songs, including "Jesus Christ Superstar," sung by Boyd and Williams, "I Don’t Know How To Love Him," performed by Williams and "Gethsemane," performed by Forster.
Speaking to Rolling Stone after the performances, Boyd said his initial skepticism quickly gave way to enthusiasm. "I was actually confounded by the offer at first," Boyd says. "I started watching the most recent shows they did in the UK and Australia and I was blown away with what they had done with the story, because they had brought it into a contemporary setting and modernized it."
Boyd added that the musical’s story transcends one’s religious beliefs. "I’m not a religious person, but I think that you don’t need to be religious to appreciate the impact that this story has had on the world," he says. "People have been killing each other over it for a couple thousand years now."
Lydon seemed intent to begin the theatrics several months ahead of schedule. After introducing himself by throwing two bananas at members of the press, the former Sex Pistol attempted to prematurely start a Q+A during the cast introductions. He was subsequently rebuked by one of the show’s producers. Later in the press conference, Lydon demanded a microphone to begin the Q+A again, but was played off the stage.
When producer Michael Cohl was asked if casting Lydon was a "bold move," the producer replied, "I think based on today's press conference, yes would be the answer. But he is a proven performer of decades of success and people love him, so it's different. But I think he was just filling another slot. If you look at pop culture singers, we've got four or five different slots and he fit well."
The tour include trips up both coasts and to Canada, with stops in Toronto, St. Louis, Las Vegas, New York City and Boston before wrapping up in Philadelphia August 17th. Tickets for the first 22 dates (New Orleans through Edmonton, Alberta) go on sale Friday, April 11th, and range from $29.50 to $125. More information can be found on the show's website.
This will mark the show’s biggest tour in its 40-plus year run. Williams (Mary Magdalene), Chasez (Pontius Pilate), Boyd (Judas Iscariot) and Rotten (King Herod) are among 50 other performers involved in this staging. "I am so thrilled to be a part of this amazing production," Boyd said. "I grew up on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classics and never imagined I would be playing a role in one, let alone with such an incredibly diverse cast of players."
Added Rotten, "I’m here to sing with the King of the Jews. Who could ask for anything more?"
Jesus Christ Superstar Tour Dates
6/9 New Orleans, LA – Lakefront Arena
6/10 Birmingham, AL – BJCC Arena
6/11 Charlotte, NC – Time Warner Cable Arena
6/13 Fort Lauderdale, FL – BB&T Center
6/14 Orlando, FL – Amway Center
6/15 Tampa, FL – Tampa Bay Times Forum
6/16 Atlanta, GA – Philips Arena
6/17 Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
6/19 San Antonio, TX – Freeman Coliseum
6/20 Austin, TX – Frank Erwin Center
6/21 Houston, TX – Toyota Center
6/22 Dallas, TX – American Airlines Center
6/23 Oklahoma City, OK – Chesapeake Energy Arena
6/24 Tulsa, OK – BOK Center
6/26 Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre
6/28 Detroit, MI – Joe Louis Arena
6/29 Chicago, IL – United Center
7/1 St. Louis, MO – Scottrade Center
7/2 Kansas City, MO – Sprint Center
7/4 Winnipeg, MB – MTS Center
7/5 Regina, SK – Brandt Center
7/6 Edmonton, AB – Rexall Place
7/8 Boise, ID - Taco Bell Arena
7/9 Spokane, WA -Spokane Arena
7/10 Seattle, WA - KeyArena At Seattle Center
7/12 Vancouver, BC - Rogers Arena
7/13 Portland, OR - Moda Center
7/15 Sacramento, CA - Sleep Train Arena
7/16 Fresno, CA - Save Mart Center
7/17 Bakersfield, CA - Rabobank Arena
7/18 San Jose, CA - SAP Center at San Jose
7/20 Anaheim, CA - Honda Center
7/22 El Paso, TX - UTEP Don Haskins Center
7/23 Phoenix, AZ - US Airways Center
7/24 San Diego, CA - Valley View Casino Center
7/25 Las Vegas, NV - Mandalay Bay Events Center
7/26 Los Angeles, CA - STAPLES Center
7/29 Denver, CO - Pepsi Center
7/30 Lincoln, NE - Pinnacle Bank Arena
7/31 St. Paul, MN - Xcel Energy Center
8/1 Milwaukee, WI - BMO Bradley Harris Center
8/2 Indianapolis, IN - Bankers Life Fieldhouse
8/3 Cincinnati, OH - U.S. Bank Arena
8/5 New York, NY - Madison Square Garden
8/7 Washington, DC - Verizon Center
8/9 Columbus, OH - Schottenstein Center
8/10 Cleveland, OH - Quicken Loans Arena
8/12 Pittsburgh, PA - Consol Energy Center
8/13 Buffalo, NY - First Niagara Center
8/14 Boston, MA - TD Garden
8/16 Philadelphia, PA - Wells Fargo Center