John Legend, whose real name is John Roger Stephens, has been tapped to play Jesus Christ in the live performance of Jesus Christ Superstar. NBC says the singer fits the titular role because of his vocal range and acting capabilities.
The 10-time Grammy winner and multi-platinum R&B artist will take on the iconic figure of Jesus Christ in NBC's Easter Sunday presentation on April 1, 2018. Robert Greenblatt, NBC entertainment chairman, said that the musician is a perfect fit for the role because the musical needs someone with a great vocal range.
Greenblatt said that NBC is overjoyed to have Legend, a world-class musical artist and producer to play as Jesus. He added that Legend is a perfect choice for the role, because the live musical "demands a singer with an amazing range and an actor with great depth."
"[A]nd 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," Greenblatt said in a statement.
Legend could not be more thrilled to be given the opportunity to take on the titular role in Jesus Christ Superstar. The 38-year-old songwriter expressed his excitement to join the cast of the production. He added that he is humbled to be a part of such a powerful and meaningful musical performance. He also revealed that preparations are ongoing to complete the casts.
"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," Legend said in another statement.
Legend joins rocker Alice Cooper, who has been cast to play King Herod. The musical also has a stellar cast of producers. They include mainstay Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, who were behind the previous four live musical productions and creators Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Marc Platt, who brought Fox's Grease Live in 2016 and this past Sunday's A Christmas Story Live, also joins the team.
Jesus Christ Superstar is based on the 1970 rock opera concert album, which was adapted into a Broadway musical in 1971. It follows the last week in the life of Jesus, which ends with his crucifixion. The musical also shows the personal and political struggles between Judas Iscariot and Jesus Christ. The performance is entirely sung-through, with no traditional dialogue.
Jesus Christ Superstar would not be the first time Legend shows his acting chops. The singer appeared in La La Land, Soul Men, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Underground.