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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

A Legend-ary Performance: John Legend takes the stage in “Jesus Christ Superstar Live”

By Twitter user @JSCTheMusical

There’s nothing more risky than a plan with good intentions.

When you have a plan based on good intentions, naturally you want to see that plan come to fruition exactly the way you pictured it in your head.

But the possibility of negative reception is grossly overlooked; people are so certain that everything will work out because of their good intentions.

For the past several years, both NBC and FOX have aired a series of live shows that were based on good intentions. Sometimes their intention of bringing the family together for a special event were met. With live performances, it’s a big hit or miss.

And then there’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live!” which is a big hit with good intentions that completely changes the formula for all future live television specials. Try as I might to find some sort of flaw with this special, my efforts were fruitless.

It’s just that good.

“Jesus Christ Superstar Live!” grabs you right from the start with an electrifying guitar solo by Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, who previously starred as Zack in the musical “School of Rock.” One by one, the ensemble appears on stage in what appears to be an orchestra-like fashion. But as the strobe lights flash harder and the sounds of the guitar and drums grow stronger every second, it becomes clear that this isn’t your average musical.

In fact, it feels less like a musical and more like a rock concert. A very well-choreographed rock concert.

The backdrops for the show emit a very classic — and very gothic — vibe. The set appears to be that of a post-apocalyptic church: the walls have chipped painted biblical scenes with bits of graffiti scattered about, and crooked candles are lit everywhere. It is a classic story in a modern hellish setting, complete with modern-day attire and good lighting techniques for each performance.

The show truly begins when John Legend makes his entrance on the stage as the title character, Christ himself. From the moment Legend walks out, his presence is so alluring and radiant you can almost feel a sense of inspiration rising from within. His devotion to bringing Christ to life will capture your heart until the final bow.

And then there’s Brandon Victor Dixon, best known for portraying Aaron Burr in “Hamilton” following Leslie Odom Jr.’s departure, as Judas. Dixon’s performance is captivating enough to steal the show entirely; his passion and charisma enthralls everyone as he emerges from Jesus Christ’s most loyal disciple to the man unintentionally responsible for his death.

Rounding out the cast is six-time Grammy award nominee Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene. Bareilles’ lighthearted voice expresses the angelicness of Magdalene’s role as Jesus’ lover. She comes off as soft and gets stronger as the story progresses.

It’d be wrong to talk about the cast of a production without mentioning the forces that drive the story through: the villains.

Ben Daniels is a seductive Pontius Pilate. Daniels’ voice is at once velvety and alluring, adding to the character’s mysterious and sinister aura. The audience most certainly develops a love-hate relationship with this actor’s vocals; not so much his actions. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Alice Cooper is a delightfully devilish King Herod. Despite only being on camera for one number, Cooper — known for his dark and outrageous performances — proves himself to be the quintessential bad guy. His appearance comes very late in the show, and it was a make-or-break situation. Naturally, Cooper made it. A man of his experience is made for this kind of role.

Have faith in me, you will be pleased.


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A Legend-ary Performance: John Legend takes the stage in “Jesus Christ Superstar Live”