Alice Cooper, a seminal figure in rock 'n' roll whose compelling stage presence has made him a must see for five decades, has been cast as the flamboyant King Herod in NBC's staged rock concert of "Jesus Christ Superstar Live!", to be aired Easter Sunday, April 1.
Also joining the production is esteemed British theater director David Leveaux, a five-time Tony Award nominee who has directed some of the most noteworthy productions in the U.K. and on Broadway, including the 2003 revival of "Nine", starring Antonio Banderas, and 2008's revival of "Cyrano De Bergerac", starring Kevin Kline and Jennifer Garner.
"Jesus Christ Superstar Live!" will be executive produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Marc Platt, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
"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. "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."
A Rock And Roll Hall of Famer who has sold more than 50 million records, Cooper has released 26 studio albums over his career, with nine reaching platinum or gold status. He recorded "King Herod's Song" at the request of Lloyd Webber and Rice for the 2000 release of a cast album from the 1996 production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" in the U.K.
Cooper's songs have been featured in countless soundtracks for film and TV as both a songwriter and singer, including most recently Netflix's "Glow" and HBO's "Vinyl". As an actor, Cooper has appeared in more than two dozen productions, including films such as Tim Burton's remake of "Dark Shadows" and his iconic "we're not worthy" performance in "Wayne's World".
Leveaux, who has worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Almeida Theatre and Donmar Warehouse in London's Covent Garden, has directed 10 plays and two musicals for Broadway. In addition to his Tony nomination for Best Direction of a Musical for "Nine", Leveaux has been nominated for Best Director of a Play four times — "A Moon For The Misbegotten" (1984), "Anna Christie" (1993), "The Real Thing" (2000) and "Jumpers" (2004). Other Broadway credits include "Electra", "Betrayal", "Fiddler On The Roof", "The Glass Menagerie", "Cyrano De Bergerac", "Arcadia" and "Romeo And Juliet".
The "Jesus Christ Superstar" album hit #1 on the Billboard chart and made its way to the stage in 1971. It is based on the final week of Jesus's 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 Tonys, including Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Vereen. Lloyd Webber won a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Composer.
Since then, the musical has been considered a classic and has become a staple of theatre and music organizations throughout the world. It has been performed in nearly 20 countries and translated into 18 different languages. There have been many revivals of "Jesus Christ Superstar" over the 46 years since its debut, including 2000 and 2012 Broadway versions that each earned a Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Musical. The 1973 film was directed by Oscar winner Norman Jewison and starred Ted Neeley.
"Jesus Christ Superstar Live!" will be produced by Universal Television, The Really Useful Group, Marc Platt Productions and Zadan/Meron Productions.