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Trivia / Jesus Christ Superstar

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  • Dawson Casting: Ted Neeley, now in his seventies, continues to make appearances as Jesus, who was 33 when he died.
  • Dueling Dubs: The musical was adapted for the Spanish language twice as the Mexican Jesucristo Superestrella and the Spanish Jesucristo Superstar. The latter is much more famous and Camilo Sesto's Jesus is as renowned as Neeley or Ian Gillan in Hispanophone circles.
  • Fake Shemp: During the recording of the original album, part of a single line in “Pilate and Christ” (“Who is this unfortunate?”) was accidentally taped over. Barry Dennen (Pilate) was unable to re-record, so Murray Head (Judas) filled in doing a hilariously nasal impression of Dennen on only the last two words.
    • Averted during “The 39 Lashes”- that’s Tim Rice, not Barry Dennen, counting thr lashes, but the decision to have Pilate counting came later, and Rice is simply providing a narrative function.
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  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Both the movie and the musical were quite big in 1980's USSR. Yeah, you heard that right.
  • He Also Did:
    • The actor who plays Peter in the movie entered the porn industry a year later.
    • Jeff Fenholt, the first Broadway Jesus, became a born-again Christian and later televangelist because of the role.
  • Meaningful Release Date: The 2018 NBC live production aired on Easter Sunday (which was coincidentally also April Fools' Day that year), the celebration of Christ's resurrection in Christian tradition.
  • Old Shame: Not the work itself, which is one of Lloyd Webber’s proudest achievements, but the 1971 Broadway production, an intensely abstract mess that reportedly brought him to tears with fear that it would be the last anyone cared to hear of the score. Enter Australian director Jim Sharman and designer Brian Thompson, whose reinvention for a Down Under staging set a show-saving standard they exported to London.
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  • Production Posse: Was in fact the origin of much of the gang behind The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Shock Treatment. Richard O'Brien met director Jim Sharman while starring as an apostle (and for one disastrous night, Herod) in the London production and eventually pitched his own idea for a rock musical B-movie satire. Sharman enthusiastically accepted the project and brought Thompson along to design the sets, while also suggesting a tap-dancer named Laura Campbell- eventually known to pop culture history as Little Nell- whom he’d seen busking outside the theater where Superstar was playing, for the role of Columbia. With a few more additions, all of them would stick together through Rocky’s original stage production, the film, and the pseudo-sequel Shock Treatment.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: Part of the melody to "Jesus Must Die" ("Good Caiaphas, the council waits for you...") is used in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat during "Who's The Thief?" ("Joseph started searching through his brothers' sacks...").
  • Role Reprisal:
    • Barry Dennen (Pontius Pilate) and Yvonne Elliman (Mary Magdalene) were the only cast members on the concept album to reprise their roles on Broadway and in the movie. Brian Keith (Annas) and John Gustafson (Simon) were asked to, but it was agreed they lacked sufficient acting experience.
    • Paul Nicholas was Jesus in the first London production in 1972, and returned for a tour marking its 20th anniversary.
    • Alice Cooper was Herod on the cast recording of the 1996 London revival (though not the live shows) with Steve Balsamo as Jesus. In 2018, he played Herod again for a televised live show with John Legend as Jesus.
  • Romance on the Set: Ted Neeley met his future wife during the production (she's one of the background dancers in the "Simon Zealotes" segment). They've been married for nearly 40 years. Lyricist Tim Rice fell in love with Elaine Paige after the two met when she was a chorus member in an early production; they had a 12-year affair, but never married as Rice was (and still is) married to his estranged wife.
  • Throw It In!:
    • The last shot of the original film is a zoom out of the cross which is left behind. In the foreground, a shepherd can be seen walking by. It was not planned that way, but the filmmakers felt that it fit the scene so well, they kept it in the film.
    • Judas being surprised by fighter jets screaming by was completely unexpected (they were genuine Israeli fighters on patrol) and was kept in the final cut.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: The 1973 film is true 1970's glory, though that wasn't intended at the time.
    • This is the curse of any production that chooses to set it in the modern day. Simon's frosted tips, for example, makes it clear that the 2000 version was, well, filmed in the late 90s/early 2000s.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Both Murray Head and Ian Gillan, the Judas and Jesus from the original concept album, were not available for the first Broadway production and the movie (Gillan being busy with Deep Purple).
    • Ben Vereen and Jeff Fenholt, the Judas and Jesus from Broadway, similarly were considered for the movie but the roles went to their understudies Carl Anderson and Ted Neeley.
    • One of those up for the role of Jesus was a nineteen-year old actor from New Jersey named John Travolta. Not saying it would've been good, but it certainly would've been interesting.
    • Ted Neeley auditioned for Judas. No, seriously. (For Broadway, not the film.)
    • As both Vereen and Anderson happened to be black, the film's director Norman Jewison didn't want a black Judas, fearing accusations of Unfortunate Implications. But he was won over by Anderson's audition (which was a simultaneous one for Neeley as Jesus).
    • The 2014 revived touring production was going to have John Lydon as Herod, Brandon Boyd as Judas, Michelle Williams as Mary Magadalene, and JC Chasez as Pontius Pilate, before being abruptly cancelled by the promoter. Oddly enough (or not) the promoter also happens to be the one behind Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. The promoter is currently being sued for breach of contract by Andrew Lloyd-Webber.


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