The Stratford Shakespeare Festival recently announced its production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” will hit Broadway this spring.
The production will be directed by Des McAnuff and will be presented by Dodger Properties and the Really Useful Group. It is expected to open at the Neil Simon Theatre on March 22 with previews starting on March 1.
The Festival’s production, which ran this summer in Stratford, Ontario, will continue through November 6 before moving to the La Jolla Playhouse in California from November 18 through December 31.
The current adaptation of the 1971 rock opera has received rave reviews during its run in Stratford. “The famous ‘Superstar’ score is respected, amped-up and uncommonly well-sung by a tightly focused ensemble,” said Chris Jones, chief theater critic for the Chicago Tribune. “The whole show feels fresh, updated and — remarkably, for a piece that’s more than 40 years old — on the edge.”
The Toronto Star‘s chief theatre critic, Richard Ouzounian, pinned the production as “the best show you’ll see this year.”
The musical chronicles the last week of Jesus’ life and a love triangle between Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Judas, and it made its debut on Broadway in 1971. Since then, it has made two other appearances on Broadway in 1977 and 2000.
The musical’s 1971 Broadway debut, directed by Tom O’Horgan, didn’t receive great reviews and was criticized by Variety for being “overproduced.” Its last Broadway revival in 2000 was a flop and lasted only a few short months. The 2002 national tour received mixed reviews and was overshadowed by ex-Skid Row front man Sebastian Bach’s replacement as Jesus, after a disagreement developed between him and the director.
J. William Bruce, sales rep at Applause-Tickets.com, told TicketNews that he was skeptical about the revival after attending the show during its short Broadway run in 2000, but he has more confidence in the current success of the show based on all of the positive reviews. “I even read somewhere that Andrew Lloyd Webber gave it his stamp of approval,” said Bruce.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Festival,” said Antoni Cimolino, general director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, in a recent press release. “Des’s production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ has delighted audiences here all season long. Now, as it heads for Broadway by way of La Jolla, it will raise our international profile and entice new audiences to come and experience more of our work in Stratford.”
“Superstar” creator Lloyd Webber’s popular “Phantom of the Opera” is also currently running on Broadway.
Meanwhile, McAnuff is also represented on Broadway with his direction of “Jersey Boys,” currently ranked No. 5 among TicketNews’ top Broadway events.
Lloyd Webber and “Superstar” lyricist Tim Rice are also said to be reviving their 1970s musical “Evita” for Broadway with preview performances beginning in March.
The Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s revival of “Jesus Christ Superstar” will open alongside several other religious-themed productions.
The first Broadway revival of “Godspell” will hit the stage on November 7 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its Off-Broadway opening. “Godspell” has not been on Broadway since the end of its original run in 1977, and Bruce expects it to be “Superstar’s” primary competition for the coming season.