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The original Broadway production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Adair Haywind
Featured Actor
joined:4/2/14
Did anyone see it? How was it? It seems like everyone's memories of the piece are in the most recent revivals and the tours that accompanied them.
WOSQ
Broadway Legend
joined:7/18/03
It was wildly directed by Tom O'Horgan. The reviews were decidedly mixed, and it was not nominated for a Best Musical Tony. When I saw it I wasn't sure at all what O'Horgan was reaching for.

Later someone gave me an explanation that made some sense. O'Horgan envisioned the piece as being played on the floor of the ocean. Certainly the design followed that conceit, but I don't know what one had to do with the other. Find production photos and look at them with this in mind.

The two most recent productions were dull, and the latest one was earsplittingly loud as if the volume could cover gaps in the story.

The original production of Godspell covered some of the same ground and did it far more creatively. The original productions overlapped.
"If my life weren't funny, it would just be true. And that would be unacceptable." --Carrie Fisher
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Brick
Broadway Legend
joined:11/21/06
I've often wondered the same thing. Little seems to be said of the show before the film version. And that's especially interesting since the original Broadway production was directed by Tom O'Horgan, director the original production of HAIR.

Around the time of the 2008 revival of HAIR, there was some talk about O'Horgan, the little mention he's given for HAIR nowadays, and also his work on JC SUPESTAR. His production was said to be even more psychedelic and adventurous than HAIR was, including the use of festival-style puppetry and wild eye-grabbing visuals.

Somehow, I finally stumbled upon this clip from the 1972 Tony Awards featuring a medley from the show. And just from this one clip, I can see what I'd heard was right. While certainly looking horribly dated, it also looks like the best production I've ever seen of the show.
JC Superstar at 1972 Tonys
jemjeb2
Stand-by
joined:6/28/05
I saw it and though memory fades, I do remember it was nonstop visually and the rock score was played LOUDLY. I also remember the severely raked stage which was very striking then. The movie was a disappointment after this lively show was such a knockout.
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Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
I remember Christ crucified on a triangle. Another thing I remembered was Pontius Pilate coming out in a Carmen Miranda headgear. His shoes looked like giant cinder blocks with straps

Would love to see it staged in period dress and done as an opera and not as a rock concert. It has never been done like that.


O. Horgan than went on to direct a string of flops Inner City (great show),Dude,Senator Joe.
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
Updated On: 4/22/14 at 11:24 AM
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Demitri2
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joined:3/25/05
Brief memories. I remember Jesus pinned to a huge gold triangle during the crucifixion scene that extended out towards the audience. It was very impressive and moving. The three lead singers (Jesus, Judas and Mary Magdalene) were wonderful. Back then there were a lot of people picketing the theatre outside with signs and flyers stating the production was sacrilegious and offensive. During intermission my mother exited the ladies room and said she shared the same seat as Hermione Gingold who passed her on the way out.
ARTc3
Broadway Star
joined:8/5/13
It was a mess, but fascinating none-the-less. The costumes really stood out as they were over-the-top. The set wasn't much to speak of, but I do remember that the stage curtain became the stage deck. The show started with actors climbing up the walls of the curtain and sort of pushing it down to become a very steeply raked floor.

The show was amplified with corded mikes that were designed to look like vines - or perhaps seaweed based on an earlier post above. They were unruly and often got tangled.

Tom O'Horgan was at his peak as a Broadway director. In addition to Hair, there was also Dude (huge bomb, but also fascinating), and Inner City (another interesting, but ill fated musical). I also remember seeing something at The Public that was directed by him. It was a sort of sci-fi thing where the sun had ceased to shine, but I can't remember the name.

ARTc3 formerly ARTc. Actually been a poster since 2004. My name isn't Art. Drop the "3" and say the signature and you'll understand.
Updated On: 4/22/14 at 11:38 AM
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Reginald Tresilian
Broadway Legend
joined:6/12/08

I love this pic.

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Mr Roxy
Broadway Legend
joined:5/17/03
Would love Inner City @ Encores.

There needs to be a bizarro like encores for shows like Dude and Rockabye Hamlet
Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth - Lillian Hellman.
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Jordan Catalano
Broadway Legend
joined:10/9/05
I wish I could see what Roxy wrote but he's blocked.
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JoeKv99
Broadway Legend
joined:12/27/04
I saw the tour- I remember the corded microphones and the steeply raked stage. And who came up out of the floor and "wore" the stage deck- was it Jesus during "superstar"?
No good can possibly come from using this vast wasteland of error and deliberate deceit. You should get off of it and warn others away. You should make sure your children and grandchildren know what a corrupt and morally bankrupt institution it truly is.
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Reginald Tresilian
Broadway Legend
joined:6/12/08
Is that maybe what's happening in the TIME pic?
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PalJoey
Broadway Legend
joined:3/11/04
The concept album came out in 1970, and I remember my sister playing it all the time and liking it, although not as much as she did.

But by the time it opened on Broadway, I had seen Company and Follies several times each, and I was hopelessly blase about anything non-Sondheim. I had seen Tom O'Horgan's production of Hair two years earlier and had loved that--especially when my friends and I went up on the stage at the end--but the Broadway experience of Jesus Christ Superstar didn't have the excitement of Hair or the excitement my sister had felt for the concept album.

I've since come to think that Tom O'Horgan was a wild visionary who lucked into doing the Broadway version of Hair after Gerald Freedman had directed the original production of Hair at the Public Theater. So all of the warm, touchy-feely "tribe" stuff had already been put into the cast and production of Hair, as well as whatever coherence there was to the storyline.

All O'Horgan did for Hair was add some wild visuals and the Zeitgeist made it a hit. And everything O'Horgan did after that was a weird visual mess.
yr pal,
joey




Blocked so far: suestorm, Master Bates
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EricMontreal22
Broadway Legend
joined:10/31/11

But O'Horgan seemed interested in touchy-feely stuff too--didn't he make the members at an audition or rehearsal lick honey off of each other?

Anyway, I believe someone explained on here that they actually were meant to be insects or something--like a society of insects if they had become more civilized like humans--which would explain the look, the crawling around, JCS' chrysalis type robe, etc.

Of course the British version (and Australian?) was more simple , despite being directed by Rocky Horror's Jim Sharman, and was a much bigger success running for years... (Sharman had previously directed the original Australian Hair.)

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Mr. Nowack
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joined:2/2/14

Here are some production photos

I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
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Mr. Nowack
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I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
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Mr. Nowack
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An expanded view of the TIME picture (also the cast album cover).

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Updated On: 4/22/14 at 03:34 PM
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Mr. Nowack
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Very odd headdresses!

I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
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Mr. Nowack
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Perhaps this is the aforementioned "carmen miranda" getup?

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Mr. Nowack
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I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
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Mr. Nowack
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I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
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Mr. Nowack
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I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
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Mr. Nowack
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The triangle crucifixion.

I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
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Mr. Nowack
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Look at those platform heels!

I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
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Mr. Nowack
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I was previously known as Mr. Nowak (Joined: 5/20/13).
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Michael Bennett
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joined:3/16/05
I wrote about this on another thread once upon a time, but a few years back I went to the NYPL and looked at all the archival designs/drawings for the costume/scenic elements of the original Broadway production of JC SUPERSTAR, and they were, as to be imagined, wildly creative, stunning and rather bizarre.

According to the designers' notes, O'Horgan's concept was "single cell organisms" -- meaning that we had all evolved from (or perhaps still were) primitive life forms. All the designs reflected this -- most were crustacean-like, and in one of his more surreal touches, O'Horgan conceived the "Hosannah" sequence, not with palm fronds but with amoebas and jellyfish.

The other design factor that O'Horgan was influenced by was Tiffany Glass and its patterns (perhaps because many recalled butterfly/chrysalis patterns). During "Superstar" Ben Vereen descended on a huge bird with Tiffany glass designs.

The link below has some color pictures of the production...






Photos of JC Superstar from the Life archives.
Updated On: 4/22/14 at 03:43 PM

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