Someone in the crowd at Blossom
Music Center on Thursday night said of Ted
Neeley, "He's been playing Jesus longer
than Jesus did."
Neeley has been identified with the title
role in the rock opera Jesus Christ
Superstar for more than 20 years and,
according to a member of the production
company, has played it more than 1,100
times. He has been touring with this
production since January and the tour is
said to be booked through 1997.
The company's one-night stand at Blossom
on Thursday was Neeley's third performance
in Northeast Ohio this year, and he'll be
back in the role on Jan. 10 at E.J. Thomas
Hall in Akron.
Thursday's show was, well, super. The only
negatives were the fact that the show
didn't have a longer run and a sound
system that sometimes blurred the quality
of the splendid singing by the 25-member
The production reunited Neeley and
recording artist Carl Anderson as Judas, a
role he began playing in concert versions
of the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice show
that predated the full-scale Broadway
Neeley and Anderson played Jesus and Judas
in the Los Angeles company of Superstar
and in the 1973 film version directed by
They sang their roles Thursday as if they
lived them, Neeley projecting a peaceful
demeanor in juxtaposition to the passion
in his voice, and Anderson exuding the
anguish of a man destined to betray his
Neeley's musical soliloquy in the Garden
of Gethsemane and Anderson's reprise of
Mary Magdalene's song, I Don't Know How to
Love Him, after the betrayal were dramatic
Christine Rea, as Mary Magdalene, wowed
the audience with her own rendition of the
song as well as Everything's Alright in
the first act.
P.J. Terranova delighted the crowd with an
Elvis-like portrayal of King Herod.
Jason Raize was quite good as Pontius
Pilate, and it was a surprise to learn in
the program that he's just 19 years old.
Other strong support came from basso
Christopher Carey as Caiaphas, Anthony
DiBenedetto as Peter, Rodney Dennis as
Simon and Larry Alan as Annas.
Unseen but heard was a six-piece rock band
directed by Jo Lynn Burks, who doubled on
The action was played on Bill Stabile's
set, which was reminiscent of any number
of rock concerts and made more so by Rick
Belzer's lighting and Gregg Stephens'
smoky special effects. Tony Christopher
directed and choreographed the show, which
was produced by the Judas Company.