‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in Sofia: The resurrection of a musical for Easter

Written by on November 7, 2017 in Leisure - Comments Off on ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in Sofia: The resurrection of a musical for Easter

Roman Catholics and Protestants will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, on their holiday known as Easter, from March 30 2018, which is Good Friday, to April 2. The Orthodox Christians have the same holiday, but a week later.

In the Bulgarian capital Sofia, the resurrection also applies to a musical which premiered 46 years ago, and which will be on just before Easter. It is ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. The dates could not have been chosen more wisely.

This year, one big musical production came to Sofia: ‘Cats’ was on in April 2017. The next one, ‘Evita’, will be in Sofia on February 21 2018. Now, the promoters are outdoing themselves, by booking the international ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ production.

Ted Neeley in the ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ movie adaption (1973).

The musical was born as a rock opera and written by a famous duet consisting of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics master Tim Rice. At first, ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ was just a concept album. The musical was developed and produced a little later. In the summer of 1971, it premiered in Pittsburgh, before moving on to Broadway.

Some great singers were included in the early versions of ‘Superstar’. None other than Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan sang Jesus on the original album. On Broadway, Jeff Fenholt and Ben Vereen played Jesus and Judas. Over the years, the cast changed.

A recent photo of Ted Neeley.

For the ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ movie, which was released in 1973, the late Carl Anderson, a brilliant Soul singer, was given the Judas role, while Ted Neeley played Jesus. Surprise alert: That same Ted Neeley will be in Bulgaria, doing Jesus, for the 2018 Easter performance of the musical at Sofia’s National Palace of Culture.

After the movie, and once the hysteria around the first productions on Broadway and in London had died down, there was one resurrection after another. One ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ production would tour the United States, while others performed in theatres all over the globe, including Latin America.

Some religious groups, mostly fundamentalist Christians in the US, did not agree with the musical at all. When the lyrics guy, Tim Rice, said he and Webber did not see Christ as God “but simply the right man at the right time at the right place”, they accused him of blasphemy. But the success proved Rice right, in the sense that the audiences were in love with the musical.

The late Carl Anderson played Judas in the movie.

The Bulgarian promoters are promising a great performance during “the days before the resurrection of the Savior.” And they are probably right. A total of 55 performers will invade the NDK. They will bring 100 costumes, countless effects and “make these three evenings unforgettable for those who are able to buy tickets.” A good point, especially in poor Bulgaria.

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, with Ted Neeley as Jesus, will be performed on April 5, 6 and 7, 2018, at 8pm, at the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria. Tickets for 50 to 125 leva are available here.

 

Christian churches in East and West and the chaos regarding Easter dates

 

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com