Rocker Sebastian Bach, late of Jekyll & Hyde on Broadway, has signed to fill the sandals of the Messiah in the new national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar that borrows elements from the recent Broadway staging and launches Nov. 1 in California.
A spokesperson for the tour previously confirmed Bach — known as lead singer for the band, Skid Row — was in talks, and announced Aug. 13 the deal was official. Carl Anderson has signed to reprise his role as Judas, which he played in the 1973 film version of the rock opera penned by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice. (Anderson and the film's Jesus, Ted Neeley, appeared in a national tour of the show 20 years after the picture was released.)
In summer 2000, Bach gave the Broadway musical, Jekyll & Hyde, a new shot of life playing the dual roles; it was his Broadway debut. The hard-rocking Skid Row had hit albums in the 1990s ("18 and Life," "I Remember You," "Youth Gone Wild"), and Bach has since teamed with other performers. His website is at sebastianbach.com.
The 2000-2001 Broadway staging of Jesus Christ Superstar was a flop, inspired by a popular staging in England, and was punctuated by contemporary Middle East violence references. Those images will be toned down for the tour, producer Tom McCoy previously told Playbill On Line. Jesus Christ Superstar will rehearse and tech in La Mirada, CA, and play a run of Nov. 1-17 at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts, before heading into the desert to play the Aladdin in Las Vegas, NV. A yearlong tour follows to San Antonio, TX, Greenville, DC, Orlando, Minneapolis, Louisville, Kalamazoo, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore, Vancouver, Milwaukee, Houston, and Los Angeles, among other cities. The tour will last at least to September 2003.
The Superstar creative team includes director Kevin Moriarty, choreographer David Wilder, musical director Craig Barna (Peter Pan), scenic designer Peter J. Davison, costume designer Roger Kirk (42nd Street), lighting designer Mark McCullough and sound designers Jon Gottlieb and Phil Allen. Davison, Kirk and McCullough all designed the Broadway staging at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts in 2000-2001. No additional casting has been announced.
McCoy Rigby Entertainment, the Nederlander Organization and the Really Useful Group are partners in the new national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar. The Nederlanders and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group approached McCoy about collaborating on a tour of the famed Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice retelling of the last days of Christ. McCoy said he felt the militaristic aspects of Gale Edwards (flop) production on Broadway in the 2000-2001 season would be a hard sell on the road, particularly following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on America.
"All those machine guns and 'Nazis' on stage and a lot of the blood and bumping and grinding. I'm not sure it served the purpose of the show so well," McCoy told Playbill On-Line in late 2001. "I felt that it would not work whatsoever [on tour]."
Director Gale Edwards was not available to stage the tour. Her assistant director, Kevin Moriarty, will take on the job and make adjustments to the show's concept, while still "honoring" her version, McCoy said. Expect it to be a kinder and gentler Jesus Christ Superstar, more in the tradition of the U.K. staging by Edwards. McCoy said the Broadway version was more explicitly violent and sexual than the U.K. production.
"Especially since Sept. 11 what we can't do is have a bunch of guards on stage with machines guns," McCoy said. "It's the wrong message at the wrong time. It needs to be a more joyful experience."