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Brunch On Broadway: Jesus Christ Superstar

AT&T Performing Arts Center
Event organized by AT&T Performing Arts Center

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Enjoy classic musicals and stage-to-screen adaptations complete with a special brunch menu only available with this series (brunch not included in ticket price.)

Brunch On Broadway is presented by the AT&T Performing Arts Center and their 2018 / 2019 Broadway Series.

From the day JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR was first unveiled, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera was as controversial as it was wildly popular.

Originally released as a two-record set in 1970, the piece was turned into a Broadway hit the following year and was adapted to the screen in 1973 by Melvyn Bragg and Norman Jewison, who would also direct. Jewison hired Hawaiian-born singer Yvonne Elliman, who had portrayed Mary Magdalene on the original album and on Broadway, for the film. Rock idols ranging from Mick Jagger and John Lennon to David Cassidy were reportedly considered for the role of Jesus, but Jewison ultimately decided on Texas-raised singer Ted Neeley, who had understudied the role on Broadway. Carl Anderson, who had performed on the musical's national tour, was cast as Judas, a decision that provoked plenty of heated discussion, since he was African-American.

The movie was shot on location in Israel; the concept was to combine the ruggedness of the Holy Land landscapes with contemporary flourishes that let everyone know this is not KING OF KINGS or THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD. The cast is shown traveling to the set via Partridge Family-style bus, like college students on a sight-seeing excursion. As Judas' guilt over betraying Christ drives him to the brink of insanity in the "Damned For All Time" number, he visualizes himself being chased across the desert by tanks. The temple marketplace that Jesus shuts down sells hand grenades, machine guns, bongs and designer clothes. When Judas delivers the show-stopping "Superstar" finale, he descends into an ancient amphitheater while clinging to a shimmering silver cross and performs in a screamingly early-'70s fringed white jumpsuit, while dozens of heavenly bodies shimmy in tinsel gowns.

For the younger crowd that already embraced Lloyd Webber and Rice's work, these kinds of off-the-wall touches worked: The movie turned a healthy profit for Universal Pictures. For Christian groups that had previously denounced the musical for its incorporation of modern slang and attitudes and its exclusion of Jesus' resurrection, scantily clad go-go girls and trippy hallucinatory sequences only made the movie that much more objectionable and sacreligious. While there have been many versions of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR since, Jewison's remains utterly one-of-a-kind. (James Sanford)

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