Below is a list of some questions we have been frequently asked over the years, which we will try to answer as best we can. If you have a question that’s not already listed, feel free to contact us, and, if we think it’s suited for the FAQ, we’ll add it to our database as soon as possible. We also like to keep the information provided here as up to date as possible, so expect regular revisions.

General Questions

FAQ is a commonly used acronym on the Internet, and it stands for Frequently Asked Questions. An FAQ is any document that lists common questions about a particular subject and provides answers, so that places where people with common interests meet won't be cluttered with the same general questions and answers. This particular FAQ was put together to answer many common questions about Jesus Christ Superstar (or JCS, for short) and its various iterations (recordings, stage, screen), and also to give some idea of just how extensive the entire JCS fan phenomenon is.
Jesus Christ Superstar, a global phenomenon that has wowed audiences for over 40 years, is a timeless work set against the backdrop of an extraordinary and universally-known series of events but seen, unusually, through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. Set in two acts, JCS tells the story of the final seven days in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, dramatizing his entry into Jerusalem, the unrest caused by his preaching and popularity, his betrayal by Judas, the trial before Pontius Pilate, and his ultimate crucifixion. The piece is sung-through, with no spoken dialogue.

JCS began its life as a concept album which featured renowned rock vocalist and Deep Purple frontman Ian Gillan voicing the part of Jesus, platinum selling solo artist Murray Head as Judas Iscariot and the inimitable Yvonne Elliman in the role of Mary Magdalene. Originally released in 1970, the album achieved huge global fame, most notably in the US where it went to #1 on the Billboard Album Chart (a feat it repeated thrice), keeping other seminal records by George Harrison and Led Zeppelin off the top spot and going on to sell over 7 million copies worldwide.

It was the first musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice to be produced for the professional stage and first came to major theatres when it debuted on Broadway in October 1971 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York. Less than 12 months after the Broadway show opened, the rock spectacle went to London, exploding onto the West End at the Palace Theatre in August 1972 in a hugely successful production. By 1980, after 3,358 performances, Jesus Christ Superstar had become the longest running musical in West End history at the time and grossed $12.3 million.

In 1973, Academy Award winning director Norman Jewison directed the motion picture version, shot on location in Israel. Released by Universal Pictures, it was nominated for two Oscars and six Golden Globes, won a BAFTA, and grossed $13.2 million at the box office. (This would later be followed by a filmed stage version shot at Pinewood Studios in 2000 which won an International Emmy Award, and a filmed release of a live arena rock spectacular featuring a star-studded lineup and an award-winning creative team in 2012.)

In all, Jesus Christ Superstar has grossed over $205 million and has been professionally produced in 42 countries around the world!
Quoting their official bios as of 2016:

Andrew Lloyd Webber is the composer of some of the world's best-known musicals, including Cats, Evita, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Phantom of the Opera, and Sunset Boulevard. His latest musical, the hit stage version of the movie School of Rock, opened on Broadway in December 2015. His awards, both as composer and producer, include seven Tonys, seven Oliviers, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, the Praemium Imperiale, the Richard Rodgers Award for Excellence in Musical Theatre, a BASCA Fellowship, the Kennedy Center Honor and a Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for Requiem, his setting of the Latin Requiem mass which contains one of his best known compositions, "Pie Jesu." He owns seven London theatres including the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and the London Palladium. He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1992 and created an honorary member of the House of Lords in 1997. He is passionate about the importance of music in education and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has become one of Britain's leading charities supporting the arts and music.

Tim Rice has worked in music, theatre, and films since 1965 when he met Andrew Lloyd Webber, a fellow struggling songwriter. Rather than pursue Tim's ambitions to write rock or pop songs they turned their attention to Andrew's obsession -- musical theatre. Their first collaboration (lyrics by Tim, music by Andrew) was an unsuccessful show based on the life of Dr. Barnardo, the Victorian philanthropist, The Likes Of Us. Their next three works together were much more successful -- Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita. Tim has also worked with other distinguished popular composers such as Elton John (The Lion King, Aida), Alan Menken (Aladdin, King David, Beauty and the Beast) and Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson (Chess). His first new show for ten years, From Here To Eternity, with music by newcomer Stuart Brayson, co-produced with Lee Menzies, directed by Tamara Harvey, and with book by Bill Oakes, opened in the West End in 2013. He formed his own cricket team in 1973 and was President of the MCC in 2002. He recently wrote and presented a 52-part series for BBC Radio 2, American Pie, a trawl through the music and musicians of every American state. He has won several awards, mainly for the wrong thing or for simply turning up.
The most comprehensive book to date is Rock Opera: The Creation of Jesus Christ Superstar From Record Album to Broadway Show and Motion Picture, by Ellis Nassour and Richard Broderick. The book is sadly out of print, but you can still find used copies on Amazon.com. (A transcription of the book will soon be available in JCS Zone's forthcoming Library section of the Knowledge Base; a link will appear when it is online.)

In 1996, during the period surrounding the West End revival at the Lyceum Theatre, a companion book, with a working title of Jesus Christ Superstar: The Authorized Version, was devised by George Perry, creator of similar companion books for previous Webber productions such as The Phantom of the Opera. Though links to purchase it can be found on Amazon.com, the book was reportedly never actually published due to copyright issues.
The Broadway show and subsequent productions were condemned by some religious groups for various reasons. Tim Rice was quoted as saying, "It happens that we don't see Christ as God, but simply the right man, at the right time, at the right place." Some Christians consider these comments to be blasphemous, the character of Judas too sympathetic, and some of his criticisms of Jesus offensive. At the same time, some Jews say that it bolsters the anti-Semitic claim that the Jews are responsible for Jesus' death by showing most of the villains as Jewish (Caiaphas and the other priests, Herod) and showing the crowd in Jerusalem calling for the crucifixion. (Trivia: The musical was banned in South Africa for being "irreligious.")
Two new songs were added to the Norman Jewison film: "Then We Are Decided" (written specifically for the film) and "Could We Start Again, Please?" (written for the 1971 Broadway production to give Mary Magdalene and Peter more showcase material). Additionally, some new segments of the Trial sequence (which were present, according to extant reviews, since the 1971 pre-Broadway concert tour), new lyrics in the "Temple" scene (written specifically for film), and a new verse for Jesus in "Hosanna" (written for the 1972 London production), were incorporated. Otherwise, the score itself is not vastly different from what is performed on stage and on the album. Indeed, many of the "rhythm" tracks appear to have been lifted directly from the "Brown Album" (see previous responses), the new material mainly being new arrangements of the more "symphonic" material by conductor André Previn, and of course new vocals from Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman, etc. In 1996, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber incorporated new lyrics and orchestrations into the West End revival at the Lyceum Theatre. The vast majority of the new lyrics were deleted over time in subsequent productions, though some still remain; the orchestrations have remained their post-1996 selves. This version was captured on film (and broadcast on TV) in 2000, billed as the "new stage production." It features members of the Broadway revival cast, but is considered greatly inferior to the original movie by many fans.
No, despite the fact that several Asian women have played the role in the past, the role itself has been played by various women of different races throughout the years.
Although Ted Neeley erroneously refers on the special edition DVD commentary to members of Deep Purple being present in the studio during the recording of the film soundtrack, Deep Purple has never been connected with JCS, except, of course, for lead vocalist Ian Gillan, who played the role of Jesus on the original concept recording (he would have been in the film, save for the events outlined in the answer to an earlier question; perhaps Deep Purple's alleged presence in the studio was connected to those events?). Comparison with the concept recording suggested that a good deal of the "rock" or rhythm-orientated tracks were derived, in whole or in part, from the original album, which featured a rock band (and cast) consisting of musicians from Joe Cocker's Grease Band, Screaming Lord Sutch, Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation, the Big Three, Juicy Lucy, the Merseybeats, Gracious, Plastic Penny, and Nucleus. All of the arrangements and orchestrations of a more symphonic nature were done by André Previn, who conducted the 70-piece London Symphony Orchestra as a supplement to the previously recorded material.
The rights to JCS in the U.K. (and some of the rest of the world, except as noted below) are handled directly by Andrew Lloyd Webber's company, The Really Useful Group, via their licensing arm Stage A Musical. In the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, they were initially handled by Music Theatre International, then by R&H Theatricals (a subsidiary of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization), both in conjunction with Two Knights Rights Limited, but now, as of March 2017, Andrew Lloyd Webber has started his own licensing agency, The Musical Company, which has taken over the licensing for all of his shows and his song catalogue in that area. (They also dabble in theatrical licensing, music publishing, and cast recording for other authors and composers.) In Australia and New Zealand, JCS is represented by Origin Theatrical; Germany, Austria and Switzerland are handled by Musik und Bühne; the rights in Scandinavia can be obtained from Nordiska ApS; and in Africa, one talks to Dalro.

But what does it mean to obtain rights for JCS? What's the process? How does it work? These agencies license stage performances of Webber's musicals (and the works of others) to the secondary market (i.e., community theaters, summer stock theaters, dinner theaters, high schools, junior highs, religious institutions, etc.) as well as to first-class presenters (i.e., a Broadway production, or national tour of one). A group interested in staging Jesus Christ Superstar must fill out an application which affirms that the auditorium has a certain number of seats, that ticket prices will be set at a certain amount, that the show will last a certain number of performances, and that the show will be performed as written to protect the rights of the authors. A royalty is worked out (a percentage paid to the authors through the agency from the money made from ticket sales), and if the school agrees, they make a deposit, and are sent the script and the score. After the production, the materials are returned, and the royalty is sent to the agency.
When the original movie hit the theaters in 1973 it was showed in its original English form in most parts of the world. However, the movie got a French dub when it was released in France the same year. The cast who performed the dub was the original French cast from 1972, including Daniel Beretta as Jesus, Farid Dali as Judas, and Anne Marie David as Mary. Quick trivia: Bob Bingham, who played Caiaphas in the original Broadway cast and in the film, was also a member of the original French cast, and therefore is the only cast member in the film who performs his own dub. This was not always to be the case; according to an unpublished JCS Zone interview with Barry Dennen, the studio called him in to record a vocal for the French dub. Dennen, who had taken some French in high school, needed only a little dialect coaching to complete the job. His vocal didn't wind up being used, presumably because whoever was in charge preferred the track by the native French speaker. The whereabouts of the track are not known; likely it has either been lost or languishes in a Universal Studios vault.
Yes, he appeared in the chorus of the original Broadway production, and was credited in the Playbill as a "Leper/Reporter." He was also Jeff Fenholt's understudy in the role of Jesus; this was the result of backstage machinations during the casting process for JCS. Producer Robert Stigwood, and authors Rice and Webber, disagreed with director Tom O'Horgan as to casting choices for the production. Stigwood, Rice, and Webber on one side preferred Fenholt as Jesus and Carl Anderson as Judas, who had completed the recent concert tour of the show; O'Horgan wanted Neeley as Jesus and Ben Vereen as Judas, both veterans of his previous productions of Hair. The final compromise was Fenholt as Jesus and Vereen as Judas, with Neeley offered the understudy slot as consolation. Following this production, Neeley and Anderson were selected as the leads for a national tour (in which they co-starred with Hair alumnus Heather MacRae), which opened June 28, 1972, at the Universal Studios Amphitheater, a (then-)outdoor venue located on the Universal back lot. Although it opened to mixed reviews, it enjoyed a successful run in Los Angeles throughout the summer. (It was during this run that Neeley and Anderson were cast in the film; the tour, with some replacements, eventually took in Washington, DC, Toledo and Columbus, Ohio, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis, Boston, Chicago, and Minneapolis.)

General Production and Recording-Related Questions

When any show is a hit, a lot of people will be quick to capitalize on the show's success. In this case, JCS was one of the first albums of its kind, and everyone wanted their own slice of the pie where the Webber and Rice Passion was concerned. At this time, many "budget" labels, famous for releasing low cost sound alike albums, "knock-off" recordings capitalizing on shows, songs, or albums that became hits, jumped into the fray. Over time, albums like these, which no longer can be accurately described as simple cash-grabs, have come to be labeled as "studio recordings." Likewise, the definition has stretched to some degree. Albums like these are now defined as albums in which the performers are not an actual ensemble that performed JCS (or may have had some live experience with the show but never all at the same time), but instead a group of vocalists who recorded the songs, and that is it. Usually, these recordings are very cheaply put together and produced, and priced to own. Finally, and of course this is a matter of opinion, since the performers on these studio recordings lack the experience of getting on a stage and actually performing the show in front of an audience, some believe the performances are pleasant enough, but not always up to par with a real cast album.
First rule of Fight Club: you don't talk about Fight Club. Check the forum in the Fan Zone section. The answers lie within.
This question can be read one of two ways: either asking how many official productions there have been in the show's history, or if there was any official production that toured worldwide rather than restricting itself to a specific geographic region. We have chosen to answer both possibilities here.

Answer 1: Creating a list of officially licensed productions from the 1970s to today in venues throughout the world would be a likely futile exercise fit only for archivists. While we are building our website, we will chronicle as many productions as we can, but we cannot possibly claim to know about every single production, professional or otherwise. However, as addressed in the general category above, it has been produced in over 42 countries globally.

Answer 2: In the event that the question refers to productions that toured worldwide, as far as we know, there has never been such a production. Most of the successful (or at least widely known) productions have been restricted solely to specific territories, such as the USA and Canada, or the UK and Europe. There have been a few productions credited as the "Broadway Musical Company" or similar wording, featuring primarily American talent, that have toured Europe, but these tours have always been brief and have never played the USA to our knowledge. However, an international tour is not outside the realm of possibility. Prior to his death, Carl Anderson (Judas in the original 1973 film) was in the process of organizing a reunion tour featuring himself, Ted Neeley (Jesus), and other of the film's stars, which was supposed to tour the globe, culminating in a performance at the Vatican. Sadly, this never came to be.
We're not fully clear, but all signs currently point to one of the only early productions for which we have firm statistics: the original London production, which opened at the Palace Theatre in London in 1972, starring Paul Nicholas as Jesus and Stephen Tate as Judas. This production ran for eight years and 3,358 performances, and went on to become the United Kingdom's longest-running musical at the time (since superseded by other long-running successes, including Webber's own Cats and Phantom, it now ranks as the 21st longest-running West End musical).
If any such footage of the actual production exists, it is not available to the public. However, a cursory glance at YouTube will turn up what is currently available: JCS' Tony Awards appearance, which includes "The Temple" with Jeff Fenholt, and "I Don't Know How to Love Him" by Yvonne Elliman.
If one is referring to the initial authorized concert tours, it played the Borough of York Stadium in Toronto on August 1, 1971. If one is referring to a fully realized stage rendition, no information on dates or theaters are known for many of the first-run productions. Some educated guesses have been made in the past based on info in the Ellis Nassour book Rock Opera, but inaccuracies have been noted in the book in the past, so it's anyone's guess. If forced to commit to a potential date, we'd have to say most likely around the mid-to-late Seventies, when the first touring productions with full sets, costumes, staging, etc., began in North America.
Actually, yes, and in both instances it was a live rendition. Why wasn't it released? Well, there's a different story attached to the audio and the video.

In the case of the live audio recording, it was initially planned for release, but was blocked by a local recording company problem involving trade unions. A live recording of "Could We Start Again, Please?" intended for the full live album appeared as the B-side of Kate Ceberano's "I Don't Know How to Love Him" single with only a handshake agreement from the cast and company to use this recording. A dispute over royalties ensued and the full live CD recording was shelved as a result.

As for the video, there is no question it exists; a complete video of the final performance in Sydney is now available in trading circles, and, as of March 2017, the full thing can even be found on YouTube. The video may have been filmed for television broadcasting purposes or for commercial release -- but exactly which has never been made entirely clear. (Music videos that do not always reflect the actual production were also released during the show's run as promotional tools, and can be found on YouTube as well.)

It is important at this time to note a grave misconception that has circulated surrounding the cancellation of any release of a full version of the Australian revival that must be put to bed. A rumor once circulated through the fan community (repeated as fact by JCS veteran Danny Zolli in his interview with JCS Zone) that the live recording was quashed because Andrew Lloyd Webber got into legal issues with the production company, reportedly unhappy with the radical changes that musical director David Hirschfelder had made to the score. This is not true; while it is entirely possible Webber had his issues with any liberties the arrangements took at some point (he is notorious for having very specific ideas about how the score should sound), it is a matter of record that he approved the Hirschfelder orchestrations for production and recordings at the time, and they were used again a year later in the New Zealand cast.
The short answer is "one never knows what tomorrow may bring." The longer answer is "maybe, but productions take years to come to fruition, and not always in the form initially announced." For example, what eventually became the 2012-13 arena tour started off as rumors that Andrew Lloyd Webber was discussing plans for a new UK touring cast to celebrate the show's 40th anniversary. Lee Mead (of Webber's reality TV casting show, Any Dream Will Do) was rumored to be one of the leads, and Marianne Elliot had been approached to direct the proposed production in the West End. What eventually resulted was nothing like that. Watch this space; as we become aware of any forthcoming productions in this vein, we'll let you know.
This question has been asked about nearly every popular production of JCS in history (this particular question was originally asked in an early version of the FAQ about Ted Neeley's "Farewell Tour" in the US). The answer, as with the one directly above, is "maybe."

Film/broadcast or recording rights (which are different from filming or recording for promotional purposes, as Troika Entertainment, which produced the "Farewell Tour," did) are not automatically granted to the producers of a show, so one would have to work out an arrangement with the authors (and whomever else is a party to previously existing royalty agreements, etc.), both in terms of an initial upfront payment and royalties. One must also work out royalty arrangements with the creative team for use of blocking/staging, choreography, production design, etc., as the work of a creative team on each production is copyrightable. Similar issues arise in terms of salary hikes to the cast (who also may receive royalties), creative team, crew, orchestra, etc. This is unavoidable, and it gets pricey, which is why many productions of many shows don't get recorded or filmed. (Put yourself in a producer's shoes. It’s hard enough to fund a show as it is without throwing in the additional cost of filming a video or recording an album which is probably even less likely to be profitable than the show itself.)

That doesn't mean it's impossible, however. If a company has previously made CDs or DVDs of their shows available before (in the test case that originally inspired this question, Troika had released CDs before, such as their production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat featuring Patrick Cassidy and American Idol contestant Amy Adams), or a production generates enough popular demand for a recording or filming, then a release is always in the realm of possibility. However, one shouldn't count on the possibility of release as establishing that the production will definitely be recorded. And, as above, if we know anything about a specific case, we will be the first to tell you!

Concept Album-Related Questions

No, never. According to a 2006 interview with Charlie Steffens for KNAC.com, however, Ian was offered the lead role in the ensuing stage and film adaptations and declined: "I went to the studio and I was talking to the film director. Tim Rice wanted me to be in the movie and also in the stage stuff. But they wanted me for 12 weeks in Israel, where they were going to shoot the movie, and I was with Deep Purple then. It was no contest, really. So I declined the movie and I declined the stage show, because Purple was the best thing that ever happened to me. That was it."
A cursory glance at Vaughan's biography suggests that his music career did not begin until he moved to Austin, Texas at the age of 17; Vaughan would have been 16 at the time of recording. As talented as Vaughan was, it is highly unlikely that he was in England at the time gigging as a session musician. Therefore we can say safely say that, as far as we know, there is no connection between Stevie Ray Vaughan and JCS; the guitarist credited as "Steve Vaughan" is most likely someone else with a similar name.
According to our research, not only did the original concept recording never receive such a release, but we have been unable to locate any Quadrophonic version of JCS on the market, nor does it appear there has ever been one available. The closest we've come is finding an electronic cover of the title track "Superstar" featured on John Keating's 1972 album Space Experience, which was released as a Quadrophonic vinyl.