Singer-producer John Legend has been cast in the starring role for NBC’s upcoming musical Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert!
“I’m thrilled to join the cast of this production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,’” Legend said in a statement Tuesday after NBC announced news of his casting. “It’s such a powerful, meaningful musical and I’m humbled to be part of this performance. We’ve already formed an incredible team, and, as we finish casting, I’m certain we will put together some of the greatest talents around to do this work justice.”
“We’re all overjoyed to have world-class musical artist and producer John Legend starring as Jesus,” said Robert Greenblatt, chairman of NBC Entertainment. “This score demands a singer with an amazing range and an actor with great depth, and there isn’t anyone better to bring this story to a new audience. His casting is also groundbreaking as the traditional image of Christ will be seen in a new way.”
John Legend performs “Love Me Now”at the American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Los Angeles. (Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)
Musician John Legend, winner of the Best R&B Album award for “Wake Up!” and Best R&B Song award for “Shine” and the Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance award for “”Hang on in There”” poses in the press room at The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
The live musical will debut on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, at the Marcy Armory in Brooklyn, New York. Alongside Legend — a Tony Award, Oscar Award, and 10-time Grammy-winner — Rocker Alice Cooper has been cast as King Herrod.
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert is based on the 1971 Broadway musical, which tells the story of the events that take place during the last week of Jesus Christ’s life.
Legend, born John Roger Stephens, has been a constant critic of President Donald Trump, calling him “corrupt” during an interview earlier this year.
The 38-year-old crooner was a producer on the award-winning 2016 musical film, La La Land, and has a writing credit for the Broadway hit SpongeBob SquarePants.
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson
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‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.