Rocker Alice Cooper has signed on to star as King Herod in NBC’s live broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar, which will air Easter Sunday (April 1, 2018). Cooper’s wildly over-the-top stage persona previously caught the eye and ear of Superstar writers Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in 2000, when he was asked to record “King Herod’s Song” as part of a London cast recording release.
“Alice Cooper, whose theatricality is the stuff of legend, is the perfect rock star to play Herod in our live production,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman, NBC Entertainment in a statement. “Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote a showstopping musical number for Herod and we all look forward to the ‘King of Shock Rock’ taking on the King of Judea. As the casting for Superstar ramps up, we can feel the excitement building for this brand new concert experience of what has long been considered the original rock musical.”
No further casting has been announced.
NBC has also revealed that Jesus Christ Superstar Live! will be directed by British theatre director David Leveaux, a five-time Tony Award nominee known for his work on the 2003 Broadway revival of Nine with Antonio Banderas, as well as the 2005 revival of The Glass Menagerie starring Jessica Lange.
Jesus Christ Superstar Live! will be produced by Lloyd Webber, Rice, Marc Platt, Craig Zadan, and Neil Meron, along with Universal Television, The Really Useful Group, Marc Platt Productions and Zadan/Meron Productions.
The broadcast follows NBC’s previous live productions of The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz, and, most recently, Hairspray.
Jesus Christ Superstar was conceived as a concept album that hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts, and eventually made its way to the stage in 1971. The frequently-revived rock musical is based on the final week of Jesus’ life.
The 1971 musical opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway and starred Jeff Fenholt as Jesus and Ben Vereen as Judas. It was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Vereen. Lloyd Webber won a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Composer.