Our Five Favorite Things About Jesus Christ Superstar Live

by Michael Mahany | 4/3/2018 3:49 PM

 


Photo credit: James Dimmock/NBC

 

At this point, you’re probably just stating to come down from your excitement cloud after watching Jesus Christ Superstar Live Easter Sunday night—so, we at Dance Network are here to help you get back up onto your powder puff of musical theatre joy once again!

 

Almost ten million people tuned in to watch the live performance on NBC, a testament to the power that broadcast television still wields in the age of the internet, and the classic Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice musical led the evening in viewers among all other televised shows.

 

The show itself, which aired live and in a concert-like staging from the Marcy Avenue Armory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was shot in front of a (very lucky) studio audience and has been widely acknowledged by critics,— and, well, almost everyone else for that matter— as the best of the most recent network broadcast musicals.

 

Dance Network has put together a list of our FIVE favorite things about Easter Sunday’s performance of Jesus Christ Superstar Live. Check them out below:

 

 


Photo credit: James Dimmock/NBC

 

1. Brandon Victor Dixon

 

If you didn’t know Brandon Victor Dixon before Sunday night, you definitely do now. Dixon took the country by storm after the nation witnessed his portrayal of Judas in JCS Live. Dixon, a two time TONY® nominee for Hamilton and Shuffle Along, is a well known and well respected performer in the Broadway theatre scene most notably known for his work as Aaron Burr in Lin Manuel Miranda’s, Hamilton. Dixon’s ability to take the vocally challenging role of Judas— with an added layer of physically taxing climbing, running, and sliding all over the enormous set— and make it all look easy, is a testament to his awe-inspiring abilities as a performer.  As a seasoned stage actor, he not only brought a level of performance aptitude to the production, he helped his co-star, pop icon John Legend who played Jesus, bring his performance to an even more elevated level of theatricality.

 

Dixon was brought to national attention when, in late November 2016, he directly addressed then Vice President Elect Mike Pence from the stage during a Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS speech after the soon-to-be-VP had attended the Broadway production of Hamilton.

 

MORE: Read Michael Mahany’s interview with Jesus Christ Superstar Live Makeup Designer Joe Dulude II

 




Photo By Whitney Browne

 

2. Camille A. Brown

 

Camille A. Brown’s stellar choreography for the broadcast performance of JCS Live was gripping, rugged, and visceral. The connection the movement added to the story was impressive, and Brown, who is represented on Broadway as the choreographer for the current production of Once On This Island (which also stars Norm Lewis, the TONY® award winning actor who played Caiaphas in JCS Live), comes from a modern dance background and consistently strives for a dense gestural vocabulary and thoughtful storytelling. Brown’s ability to drive the story line with her movement, while, at the same time engage her audience and her dancers is a true mastery of the craft.

 

Dance Network’s Kristyn Burtt recently spoke with Brown about her work on Jesus Christ Superstar Live. Check out the interview here.

 


Photo credit: James Dimmock/NBC

 

3. Sara Bareilles

 

Sara Bareilles’ enormously successful career as a musician swelled for many for years in the pop echelon, (leading the singer/songwriter to six Grammy® nominations), and has recently grown to include the Broadway theatre industry, as well. Bareilles, who penned the lyrics and music to Broadway’s Waitress — a musical for which she was nominated for a 2016 TONY® award for Best Original Score— brought a fresh take to her role of Mary Magdalene in last Sunday night’s live broadcast.

 

After finishing a successful stint playing the role of Jenna in Waitress just last month, Bareilles was invited to play the role of Mary Magdalene in the concert staging. Bareilles’ vocal ease, sense of pop and rock styling, and grace came through with such elegance, and her strong theatrical roots allowed her shine brightly and stand impressively among her colleagues, all but ensuring her place at the Broadway table for many seasons to come.

 


 

MORE: Read Dance Network’s International Women’s Day Special; featuring Waitress choreographer Lorin Latarro

 


Photo Credit: NBC / Virginia Sherwood

 

4. The Ensemble

 

The ensemble of the JCS Live was made up of some of Broadways finest and drove the production to new levels of success for a network musical live broadcast. The dancers and singers of the production were utilized in a way that showcased their abilities and talents and allowed these seasoned professionals to carry a significant weight of the show. Given some freedom to create by director David Leveaux and choreographer Camille A. brown, these actors and dancers carved out nuanced and crafted performances that shined brightly throughout the entire piece.

 

The ensemble performers included: Melody Betts, Felicia Boswell, Abby Corrigan, Micaela Diamond, Rory Donovan, Christine Dwyer, Mike Evariste, F. Michael Haynie, Charissa Hogeland, Bre Jackson, Mykal Kilgore, Billy Lewis Jr., Joel Perez, Justin Gregory Lopez, Angel Lozada, Vince Oddo, Kyle Taylor Parker, Jonah Platt, Conor Ryan, Christina Sajous, Justin Matthew Sargent, Heath Saunders, Joey Taranto, Syndee Winters, and Lauren Zakrin, with dancers Chloe Davis, Timothy Edwards, Shelby Finnie, Bahiyah Hibah, Juel D. Lane, Terk Lewis, Mayte Natalio , Sarah Parker, Tre Smith, and Maleek Washington..

 


Photo Credit: NBC

 

5. The LIVE Studio Audience

 

The addition of a studio audience made an enormous difference to this production and will most likely define the way the networks proceed with live musicals from now on. The rock concert energy exchange between the audience and the performers at the Brooklyn Armory was so robust and palpable that even the television audience could feel it. The theatrical staging in, around, and the literal inclusion of the crowd, brought an excitement, dangerousness, and daring quality to the already gritty production, and was wildly successful.

 

For more on JCS Live or to watch the full concert again, check out NBC.com. You can also find the concert on Hulu, and, be sure keep you eyes open to your local listings for future rebroadcasts.