Rock opera and Broadway musical Jesus Christ Superstar is beginning a 50-market North American tour, and the launch is at Austin’s Bass Concert Hall October 8-13.
Set against the extraordinary series of events during the final weeks of the life of Jesus Christ, the musical features award-winning music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. The production is from the perspective of one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas.
Originally staged in London in 1970, and with a worldwide fan base, the musical is also known for NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert,” which attracted 9.6 million viewers in 2018. Starring John Legend and Sara Bareilles, it earned the highest ratings of any live musical event on network television. The original concept album of the 1970s includes hits like Carole King’s “Tapestry” and Janis Joplin’s “Pearl.”
Ahead of the Austin show, we spoke with SandyRedd who plays Soul Girl in the musical.
It’s been almost 10 years since the last Jesus Christ Superstar tour in the U.S. How do you feel about being part of its revival?
I’m truly excited to be part of the revival of such a groundbreaking body of work. Jesus Christ Superstar has touched the hearts and minds of so many around the world. This is one of the most memorable achievements of my career. I thank God for it every day.
What makes this musical standout compared to other productions?
Not only am I a lover of musical theater, but I’m a rock soul artist as well. So, I have a genuine appreciation for this rock opera piece, and the way that it is musically constructed to include the melting pot of genres. Also, as a Christian, I grew up learning about the story of Jesus Christ… I appreciate the concept of unconditional love that it displays. So that truly draws me to how Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice breathed life into it. And now, in 2019, Timothy Sheader, Drew McOnie and Tom Deering have managed to recreate this amazing piece of work [in a way] that is even more powerful. It touches my heart differently and leaves me more emotionally connected to it than most other musicals that I’ve been part of.
You’ve worked with NBC’s hit show “The Voice.” Has that experience affected your work on Broadway?
My experience on NBC’s “The Voice” was truly life changing. The stage is my home, so the show provided a grand opportunity not only for me to exist in my comfort zone in front of the entire world, but to be okay with who I am as an artist and as a person on a platform of that magnitude. The same can be said for this new journey that I’m embarking on with the Jesus Christ Superstar National Broadway Tour…
Tell us a little bit about your character in Jesus Christ Superstar.
As a Soul Girl, I get to be part of the extra spice that was written into the music. I absolutely love the fact that we get to slice through the mob like action that happens throughout the show with a contrast of soulful energy, a sultry touch, and a powerful sound that leads you straight to church. That’s so cool to me!
What’s your favorite part of the musical?
I love how the entire story just flows together so well, but I do have a favorite quote. Jesus has been arrested and is brought to Pilate to be sentenced… Jesus says to Pilate, “You have nothing in your hands. Any power you have comes to you from far beyond. Everything is fixed and you can’t change it.” I love this quote because it’s what I truly believe regarding my own life and career.
Despite the obstacles that I’ve had to face or the circumstances that could have broken me, I truly believe that there is nothing that anybody can do to damage, interfere with, alter, change or take away from that purpose. This quote is a small piece of validation that my path is set. I just have to keep walking in it.
What else will stand out to audience members?
There have been so many renditions of Jesus Christ Superstar over the years, but this is one of the most powerful productions that I’ve ever seen. The directors do a phenomenal job of making sure that the music is the focus. It truly embodies what people fell in love with on the Brown Album. And with the electrifying choreography and the mesmerizing visuals added to the mix, it tells the story in a way that both old and new fans have never experienced before and will thoroughly enjoy.
Jesus Christ Superstar runs October 8-13 at Austin’s Bass Concert Hall.
Cover photo Evan Zimmerman