*John Legend has been cast as Jesus Christ in NBC’s next live musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” it was announced Tuesday morning on NBC’s “Today” show.
The Oscar, Tony and 10-time Grammy winner also joins the team of executive producers for the musical, set to air live on Easter Sunday April 1 under the official title, “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert!”
The 1971 musical, which was nominated for five Tonys, is based on the final week of Jesus’ life. The rock opera will be staged in front of a live audience at the Marcy Armory in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood.
It was announced earlier this month that rock star Alice Cooper will play King Herod in the production.
Legend said, “I’m thrilled to join the cast of this production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert!’ It’s such a powerful, meaningful musical and I’m humbled to be part of this performance. We’ve already formed an incredible team, and, as we finish casting, I’m certain we will put together some of the greatest talents around to do this work justice.”
The musical will be helmed by five-time Tony British theater director David Leveaux whose credits include the 2008 Broadway revival of Cyrano de Bergerac, starring Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner, as well as Broadway productions of Fiddler on the Roof, The Glass Menagerie and Romeo and Juliet.
“We’re all overjoyed to have world-class musical artist and producer John Legend starring as Jesus,” NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt said in a statement. “This score demands a singer with an amazing range and an actor with great depth, and there isn’t anyone better to bring this story to a new audience. His casting is also groundbreaking as the traditional image of Christ will be seen in a new way.”
The musical’s lyricist Tim Rice added, “John Legend is a superstar. As a performer, his voice is infectious and effortless. As an actor, he is believable and honest. I’m thrilled he will be able to share his portrayal of Jesus with the world.”
“Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert!” will be produced by Universal Television, The Really Useful Group, Marc Platt Productions and Zadan/Meron Productions and executive produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rice, Marc Platt, Craig Zadan, Neil Meron, Legend, Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius.