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Bringing the glam to King Herod in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’
Jesus Christ Superstar took shape as a landmark album.Released in 1970 to resounding success, that recording captivated audiences worldwide, spawning the original Tony-nominated production, the cult classic 1973 film, and countless concerts, adaptations, and revivals — including, nearly 50 years later, director Timothy Sheader’s acclaimed London production staged by Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre.Now, Sheader and choreographer Drew McOnie’s driving, modern-dress iteration is repping the musical’s 50th anniversary on a North American tour, currently anointing the Kennedy Center Opera House with dulcet voices and shredding guitars.Performed by a youthful cast wielding microphones and playing instruments, supported by a stellar orchestra stacked behind them on scaffolding, the show strikes an agreeable balance between concert and theater.“Our production is based off the original concept album,” says Paul Louis Lessard, whose gold-lamé-frocked King Herod is an impish delight in the show, challenging Jesus to prove himself the miraculous Christ. “The idea was, if you put on the record at the beginning of our show and pressed play, what you experience with our production is what it would be like to listen to that record all the way through without stopping.”Because the production’s focus is honoring Webber and Rice’s score, Lessard adds, “our creative team was very encouraging about every performer bringing themself to the role, and making the music the priority of the show and this interpretation.