Tony and Olivier Award-winning Color Purple star Cynthia Erivo has signed on to sing the role of Mary Magdalene in an upcoming all-female recording of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s seminal 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.
The album is based on a January 2017 concert at the Highline Ballroom, which Shoshana Bean (Wicked, Hairspray) and Morgan James (Godspell, Motown) headlined with a cast of all women. A late November release is planned.
Much of the Highline Ballroom cast will be featured on the album, including Bryonha Marie Parham as Annas, Tony Award nominee Orfeh as Pontius Pilate, and Tony winner Debbie Gravitte as Caiaphas.
New for the recording are Bridget Everett as King Herod and Eden Espinosa as Peter.
Rounding out the album cast are Ann Harada, Ellyn Marie Marsh, Pearl Sun, Jasmin Walker, Rebecca Covington, Marva Hicks, Joanne Javien, Tamika Lawrence, and Isabel Santiago.
Recording sessions began in February. Meg Toohey and Morgan James produce the album.
The project is partially funded through PledgeMusic, an online crowd-sourcing platform that allows fans to pre-order the album before the artists go into the studio, helping to alleviate some of the overhead costs. The campaign has already met 120 percent of its goal, and the campaign is donating 5 percent of the money raised to the Malala Fund. It can be pre-ordered here.
According to notes on the album's PledgeMusic page, they are aiming “to capture the electricity of that night while honoring the landmark concept album that started it all.” Jesus Christ Superstar was famously released as a concept album in 1970 prior to being performed on a stage.
The Highline Ballroom concert was directed by Richard Amelius with music direction by Julie McBride. The cast of 13 was accompanied by a six-piece band.