John Legend is about to up his superstar status. The Grammy Award-winning singer will be featured as Jesus Christ in NBC’s live production, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert. The highly anticipated special will be broadcast live on Easter Sunday, and NBC has now released the first promo that shows the cast in character, including Legend as Jesus.
In the promo, the Jesus Christ Superstar cast is seen performing some of the songs in the musical including a snippet of Sara Bareilles’ performance of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” the song that was first recorded by Yvonne Elliman for the Broadway rock opera nearly 50 years ago.
The 40-second sneak peek also shows John Legend as Jesus being dragged by a group of men, while Sara Bareilles’ Mary Magdalene is struggling to break free as she is being held back. You can see the full promo at the end of this article.
In addition, NBC has released new photos from the Jesus Christ Superstar set which show Legend (who also serves as a producer on the special), Bareilles, and rock star Alice Cooper getting into character during rehearsals. Alice Cooper plays King Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar Live.
Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert is the concert staging of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic 1971 rock opera, which follows the final week of Jesus Christ’s life. The original Broadway musical starred Jeff Fenholt as Jesus and Ben Vereen as Judas, and it earned a whopping five Tony nominations.
For the NBC performance, John Legend knows he has a lot to live up to. Legend told PopSugar he has immersed himself in the source material for the show because he knows expectations are high.
“It’s an iconic show,” Legend said of Jesus Christ Superstar.
“It’s meant a lot to a lot of people for a long time, and you want people that are fans of it to be excited by our rendition. Then, we want to attract new people to the show, too, that may have never seen it.”
Legend also said he is humbled to play Jesus in the TV musical.
“I grew up in a Christian home with ministers all through my family, so I’ve been hearing about Jesus my whole life, and the chance to portray him, I couldn’t turn it down,” John explained. “It’s huge, it’s iconic, it’s special, and I felt like it was a challenge that I was ready to take on. There’s pressure, but it’s a good pressure.”
According to Entertainment Weekly, in addition to John Legend, Bareilles, and Cooper, NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar production will feature Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, Ben Daniels as Pontius Pilate, Norm Lewis as Caiaphas, Jin Ha as Annas, Jason Tam as Peter, and Erik Gronwall as Simon Zealotes.
Jesus Christ Superstar will air live on Sunday, April 1 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.