Anniversary: Jesus Christ Superstar hits 40

KNOW WHAT THIS IS? It’s the 8-Track version of Jesus Christ Superstar, released in the early 1970s. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 12: Religion is big on Broadway again. Just consider the mega-hit, “Book of Mormon”, which won 9 Tony Awards! More religious themes are debuting in 2012.

Today, though, Broadway fans are looking way back. They’re celebrating the birthday of a granddaddy of faith-and-music spectaculars: the 40th anniversary of the premiere of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” During the past four decades, this controversial musical has been banned in some countries and has garnered awards in others.

Fans are looking toward the horizon, as well! This show simply won’t stop. The musical is set to reopen on Broadway in March of 2012. A third film adaption is set for release in 2014.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” used rock music to depict the Gospels’ account of the last week of Jesus’ life. Controversy swirled around many aspects of the show, including the depiction of Jesus as singing his way through the agonies of that final week. (Wikipedia has details.) The original Broadway production of 1971 ran for 711 performances. “Jesus Christ Superstar” continues to be popular in community theaters.

The Jesus-centered musical was nominated for a 2000 Tony Award—Best Revival of a Musical—and it was revived once again for the 2011 Stratford Shakespeare Festival, running May through November. It was announced last week that the Neil Simon Theatre on Broadway will host previews for “Jesus Christ Superstar” on March 1, 2012, with an opening on March 22. If this show isn’t for you, don’t worry—“Godspell,” “The Book of Mormon” and “Sister Act” will also be running on Broadway.

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