Ted Neeley, Cast Members, Celebrate 50th Anniversary of Film Adaptation of Rice and Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar ~ January 14
By: Ellis Nassour
January 7, 2023 – Co-star Ted Neeley and members of the cast of Norman Jewison’s production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the film January 14 at the beautiful state-of-the art theatre of Trenton, NJ’s Villa Victoria Academy Performing Arts Center (376 W Upper Ferry Road, Ewing Township, NJ).
Guests will enjoy a widescreen showing of Jewison’s breathtaking and sweeping production, starring Neeley, the late Carl Anderson (Jesus, and who played the role in the Summer 1972 Los Angeles engagement outdoors at Universal Studios), Yvonne Elliman (Mary, and who did the role on the 1971 Rice/Lloyd Webber rock opera, the pre-Broadway national tour, and on Broadway), the late Barry Dennen (Pontius Pilate, who co-starred in the role on Broadway), and Josh Mostel (King Herod).
Attending from the numerous cast of Broadway actors who were featured in the film will be Larry Marshall, Bob Bingham, and Kurt Yaghjian.
Frank Munoz, co-producer and director of Superstars – The Documentary, will introduce the cast members on hand and the film, which was shot in HD Todd-A-O and Technicolor in the scorching heat of Israel’s Negev and Judean deserts.
There will also be a tribute to director Jewison and the late Tom O’Horgan, who directed the 1972 spectacular Broadway production.
Following the screening there will be photo opts, autographs, and merchandise for sale (including the film soundtrack) and Bingham and Yaghjian Superstar-inspired jewelry.
To avoid comparisons to any stage productions, Jewison conceived a documentary-within-the-film of a hippie acting troupe going to the Holy Land to present a passion play. He took his huge cast and crew to Israel, filming on location along the shores of the Sea of Galilee, the Golan Heights, the Bell Caves, Avdat Roman ruins, the Herodium Fortress, and the Dead Sea – using only natural light. He also chose the controversial addition of contemporary touches, such as military tanks (the Six Day War was in progress), weaponry, uniformed Israeli soldiers, and production crew and props. Off duty soldiers appear in crowd sequences. The tanks were used in a harrowing sequence in pursuit of Anderson (Judas).
Neeley and (the late) Anderson described shooting on location as “absolute amazement.” Neeley said it was incredible to be filming “in the footpaths of Jesus Christ.”
In a location interview at the Herodium Fortress, Jewison said, “It would be difficult to make the story of Jesus Christ on the streets of Amsterdam or on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. Historically, this is where the events took place … The reason I came to Israel was to put my cast, crew, and myself in the right mood, atmosphere, and environment.”
As with the stage productions, the film is sung-through.
Limited seating is available for the 50th Anniversary screening and meet & greet. There are $20 and can be purchased at www.showtix4u.com/event-details/67939