John Legend and Sara Bareilles soared in the resurrection of the 1970 rock opera.
Jesus Christ Superstar Live aired Sunday night (April 1), treating NBC viewers to an Easter-appropriate dose of rock opera. Originally written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice in 1970, the 2018 rendition of the musical starred John Legend as Jesus, Sara Bareilles as Mary, Hamilton actor Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas and Alice Cooper as King Herod.
With an all-star cast and awe-inspiring production, practically every moment of the two-hour broadcast was a highlight. But if we had to choose the best of the best, here's what we'd choose for the 10 standouts from Jesus Christ Superstar Live.
1) Dixon's first bold notes in “Heaven on Their Minds” — the first song in Act I after the overture — asserts the tone for the electrifying ensemble and soundtrack to follow. As if the singing along weren't enough, Legend parades in to a fanfare and begins shaking hands with ecstatic audience members.
2) Legend's room-silencing first line when he comes in for “What's the Buzz/Strange Thing, Mystifying” instantly validate Jesus Christ's status as a superstar. “Why should you want to know?” he bombastically asks nosy disciples.
3) During the same song, Bareilles makes her debut and elicits a collective swoon among the entire audience. Wasn't it just yesterday when she won our hearts with 2007's “Love Song”?
4) In “This Jesus Must Die,” Norm Lewis' rumbling baritone vocals are impressively haunting as he delivers an illustrious portrayal of Caiaphas.
5) Erik Gronwall's metal roots are exhibited as he shines during his rendition of “Simon Zealotes,” in which he proclaims his character's loyalty to Jesus during trying times.
6) No moment in this musical will break your heart as much as Bareilles' spotlight moment singing “I Don't Know How to Love Him,” one of the few solo songs in the play. The lyrics depict Mary's struggles being in love with such a notable figure, especially while he's under fire. We feel you, girl.
7) Once you think you've recovered from Mary's tearjerking solo, Legend returns in Act II for an immensely emotional rendition of “Gethsemane,” which was powerful enough to elicit the first standing ovation of the evening from a surely moved audience.
8) Judas' death further exemplifies the vocal skill of Dixon in one of the most high-drama points of the musical — and certainly the saddest.
9) Alice Cooper thrills the audience with his brief, yet stellar performance as King Herod. The original glam rocker humorously points to the off-stage piano to begin his self-titled song, during which he condemns Jesus. Complete with burlesque dancers and a jazzy melody, Cooper leaves an impression with his single song.
10) Jesus' crucifixion: the moment we've all been waiting for, right? The climax scene features just as much drama and emotion as viewers would expect. Legend ascends the cross above his disciples for the final — and most powerful — scene of the musical.