Far enough removed from frilly, glossy hits like “Peter Pan,” “Hairspray” and “The Sound of Music,” NBC returned to the circus of live music with a true spectacle in “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
A rollicking, rocking production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic marked the end of Lent from the Marcy Armory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, with a loud, brash, heart-wrenching tale of Jesus’ last days.
The supporting cast stood out in the dark, busy set: Ben Daniels as Pontius Pilate, the man who dreams Jesus’ execution; Norm Lewis as Caiaphas, the judge who sends Jesus to his death; “Hamilton” star Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas Iscariot; and, above all, the soft-spoken, angelic-singing, Tony- and Grammy-nominated songwriter Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene.
While producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron stayed true to the original production, the show went modern for Jesus’ arrest, which included a blinding paparazzi attack as Legend was dragged off stage.
The final shot was breathtaking: The stage split into a cross and Jesus rose to his death, a beautifully lit, over-the-top, impossible message that whispered and shouted at the same time.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” was an ambitious production, and it worked.