Jesus Christ Superstar Zone has learned, with great sadness no doubt shared by many, that Barry Dennen died on September 26, 2017 at the age of 79. Renowned for his discovery of Barbra Streisand, his voiceover work (including such video games as Metal Gear Solid 2 and Jade Empire), and a stage, film, and television career that included turns in the original London cast of Cabaret (Evening Standard Award winner - Best Actor in a Musical), Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, and James Cameron's Titanic, JCS Zone of course remembers him best for originating the role of Pontius Pilate in the concept recording, original Broadway cast, and 1973 film of JCS.
Since the Seventies, Barry periodically returned to the role of Pilate in numerous productions around the world, including a regional U.S. tour with Carl Anderson and Sam Harris, benefit concerts (in 2003 and 2006, the latter reuniting him with his JCS stage and film co-stars Ted Neeley and The Real Yvonne Elliman), and a celebrated tour of three Italian cities in spring 2014 which once again reunited him with Ted and Yvonne. It would be very easy to showcase him in his signature role as a tribute to his memory.
However, JCS Zone has always played by different rules. Inspired by Ted's sharing Carl's rare performance of "Poor Jerusalem" from an Italian production of JCS, we have opted to give you a glimpse of Barry playing a different role. In 2003, Barry joined a U.S. national tour of JCS based largely on the look and feel of the 2000 video, which featured Carl (at the time) and Eric Kunze as Jesus, but oddly enough, he took the role of King Herod. (As per an interview with JCS Zone, Carl wanted Barry to join the tour, and the production itself was in a bind, as the actor who played Herod had contracted laryngitis and shredded his voice on the road, so the producers opted to feed two birds from one hand.) Barry was with the tour when Carl left us (and continued with it into 2004 when Carl was replaced by Lawrence Clayton), but ultimately, after several months on the road as Herod, he tired of the pace of touring and returned to a more steady existence in California.
We didn't believe any recordings existed of Barry's performance, but we managed to find two. Of the two, we think the one heard in this video showcases Barry's style best. Compared to most Herods, Barry basically played it straight, sort of like an old Borscht Belt comedian (indeed, more than one reviewer made that comparison) -- very wry, understated, not milking the laughs, just physical enough, a bit mischievous. By all reports, it really livened up the dreary staging in the second act of that production. We hope that you enjoy hearing it as much as Barry enjoyed playing it.
JCS Zone's own staff member Gibson DelGiudice had an exclusive interview with Devin McKinney, a published author on pop culture and archivist at Gettysburg College. Last year, he wrote Jesusmania!, a new book about a wildly successful (and illegal) amateur production presented at Gettysburg in spring 1971, which you can purchase by clicking here: goo.gl/YKkYmj
(buy fast; the current edition is a limited print run of 500 copies, signed and numbered by the author).
Here is a rare and recently surfaced recording of the first preview of the 2000 Broadway cast including the original Judas, Jason Pebworth who was replaced shortly after the first few previews due to heavy vocal problems.
Manoel Felciano replaced Jason Pebworth after only a few shows. He was supposed to eventually return to the role but never did. In the end it was Tony Vincent who took over the role.
This is one of the more obscure Superstar recordings from the early seventies. The exact year of release is uncertain (currently estimated at 1971 thanks to the help of CastAlbums.org), but Tim Rice reportedly once mentioned that it was one of the first recordings to appear outside the UK after the original concept album was released. ... See MoreSee Less
To avoid any unnecessary confusion/lawsuits, it is worth stating here that this site is in no way officially connected to, or with, Andrew Lloyd Webber, The Really Useful Group, Tim Rice, or Jesus Christ Superstar(all links are to official websites). This is merely a well-intentioned attempt by devoted fans to connect with other devoted fans who are interested in the show.