The second Biblical epic to be turned into a musical by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyricist Tim Rice, this box-office disappointment recounts the last week in the life of Jesus Christ in rock-opera format and from the surprising point of view of Christ’s betrayer, Judas Iscariot. Carl Anderson stars as Judas, who has begun to believe that Jesus (Ted Neeley) has sold out and started buying into the mythology that’s quickly springing up around him. Particularly disturbing to Judas is the relationship between Jesus and his friend Mary Magdalene (Yvonne Elliman), a prostitute. When Jesus throws a temper tantrum at the moneylenders in a temple, Judas determines to work with the Pharisees who want to put Jesus on trial as a false prophet. Following his success with the adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof (1971), director Norman Jewison experimented with a hippie-influenced sensibility on Jesus Christ Superstar (1973). Among such touches are depictions of the cast arriving via bus to mount the show, modern high-tech weaponry in the hands of the ancient Romans, and on-location filming in Israel.
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