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Neeley resurrects lead role in ‘Superstar’

Posted: January 5, 2009 2:11 p.m.
Updated: December 19, 2008 6:00 a.m.

Ted Neeley, the original star of the 1973 movie adaptation "Jesus Christ Superstar," reprises the role of Jesus in the newest touring production of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber theatrical masterpiece.

 

Ted Neeley, the original star of the 1973 movie adaptation "Jesus Christ Superstar," reprises the role of Jesus in the newest touring production of the Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber theatrical masterpiece.

"I'm constantly involved in other projects, but I've never been able to say no to this show," Neeley said. "It's just such a magnificent experience for me and each time I play this role it is always better than the time before."

The first collaboration between Webber and Rice to be performed on the professional stage, "Jesus Christ Superstar" is one of the most popular and enduring works ever created for the musical theater. Featuring such notable songs as "Superstar," "Everything's Alright" and "I Don't Know How to Love Him," the musical earned five Tony Award nominations.

"This show has a universal spirituality, a universal connection, which is its appeal," Neeley said. "I always invite protesters to come see the show and then tell me what they don't like about it. The people that have accepted have always come back with a positive response."

Set in two acts, "Jesus Christ Superstar" tells the story of the final seven days in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. The musical dramatizes Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, the unrest caused by his preaching and popularity, his betrayal by Judas, the trial before Pontius Pilate, and his ultimate crucifixion.

"Jesus Christ Superstar" will play through Dec. 21 at The Wilshire Theatre in Beverly Hills.

Neeley, best known for his Golden Globe nominated role as Jesus in the Norman Jewison film of "Superstar" said generations of families have come to see him in the role.

"I'm meeting grandchild of people who've seen the show years before," he said.

He has appeared in a wide variety of productions from "Hair" to the works of Samuel Beckett but his appearances in "Jesus Christ Superstar" have created a fan base that borders on a cult-like phenomenon.

The current touring production has run in North America and Canada since 2006.

"One production was only suppose to last three months but ended up touring for five years," Neeley said.

Neeley said his favorite parts of the show begin with "the first guitar lick and end when the curtain comes down."

"This is a show you can bring your entire family to see," Neeley said.

Performances of "Jesus Christ Superstar" will run Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Single tickets range in price from $25-$100, and are currently available online at www.BroadwayLA.org, by phone at (213) 365-3500 and at all Ticketmaster outlet locations. The Wilshire Theatre Beverly Hills, 8440 Wilshire Blvd, one block east of La Cienega, Beverly Hills.

For more information on upcoming Broadway/L.A. shows, visit www.BroadwayLA.org.

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