“What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s happening!” That catchy refrain became a major earworm when Jesus Christ Superstar came out as a double LP in 1970. The concept album by a pair of cheeky young Brits, librettist Tim Rice and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, became a global hit, and in July 1971 an astonishing 13,000 people packed Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena to see its first authorized concert staging. Months later it premiered on Broadway, and in 1973 was released as a major motion picture. Over the years it’s received countless professional and student productions (including one with Lin-Manuel Miranda as Jesus) and achieved classic status.
Now there’s new buzz for the new millennium. Three-time Olivier Award winner Timothy Sheader created an exciting new production for London’s Regent’s Park Open-Air Theatre last summer that wowed critics and audiences alike, winning the Evening Standard Award for Best Musical. The Guardian declared it “a gorgeous, thrilling, heavenly musical. Wit, lyricism, and satirical bite abound in this dramatic revival….An unexpected and considerable pleasure that really rocks.” The Telegraph called it “an almighty revelation” and the Evening Standard declared it “vivid and compelling,” with praise for Sheader’s “stylish direction.”
Next season, Lyric audiences will experience the North American premiere of Sheader’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar, reimagined for the stage of the Lyric Opera House. Ticket sales are already brisk for performances April 27-May 20, 2018. Sheader and his original creative team will re-envision and mount the grand-scale Lyric production, including Olivier Award-winning choreographer Drew McOnie, Tony Award-nominated set & costume designer Tom Scutt, and Olivier Award-nominated lighting designer Lee Curran. The Chicago production will feature an all-star cast (to be announced at a later date), along with members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus.
Jesus Christ Superstar is the sixth installment of Lyric’s Musical Initiative. “Up to now, we’ve concentrated on American classics,” notes Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director, “but in 2017/18, for the first time, we’ll produce this iconic rock opera, which suits a big theater and will provide Lyric’s audience with an unprecedented experience. With Timothy Sheader’s production, our audience will be reminded that this truly unforgettable piece has enthralled audiences everywhere for more than 40 years.”
Jesus Christ Superstar reinvented musical theater for the modern age. The international blockbuster recounts the final week in the life of Jesus Christ from the perspective of Judas Iscariot. As Christ’s followers grow more fervent, Judas must choose between faith and betrayal. Filled with an exciting mix of musical styles that draw upon 1970s rock, gospel, folk and funk themes, this contemporary imagining of the biblical tale features high-energy dance and powerful storytelling.