Local Current Blog

The Gospel According to Johnny Rotten: Lydon is Herod in new “Jesus Christ Superstar” tour

John Lydon performs in the Current's studios in 2012. Photo by Nate Ryan/MPR.

Update 6/2: The entire Jesus Christ Superstar American tour has been canceled due—say the show’s producers—to disappointing ticket sales. A New York Times article on the cancellation reports surprise and anger among cast members—though, perhaps tellingly, not so much among prospective audience members.

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John Lydon, former lead singer of the Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd., will be on stage this summer at the Xcel Energy Center in a musical of Biblical proportions: the Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular. “I’m here to sing with the King of the Jews,” said Lydon in a press release. “Who could ask for anything more?”

Lydon will play King Herod along with a motley cast of other music notables including Brandon Boyd of Incubus (Judas Iscariot), ‘N Sync member JC Chasez (Pontius Pilate), and Destiny Child’s Michelle Williams (Mary Magdalene).

Jesus Christ Superstar, created by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, has been a Broadway staple since its premiere in 1971. This production, however, will make the show’s widest-ranging North American tour to date, with over 50 stops. It’s a “reimagined” version of the hardy rock musical, directed by Laurence Connor, whose past work includes productions of Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera. Ben Forster, a British actor/singer and winner of England’s ITV Superstar competition, will play the “superstar” title role.

The U.S. leg of the musical comes after a successful U.K. and Australian tour. Reviewing the new production’s U.K. run—which featured Forster with a different cast, including Mel C of the Spice Girls—the Independent wrote that the show “is ear-splittingly restored to its heavy metal rock origins in a thrilling production by Laurence Connor that uses the insignia of Occupy London, newsreel and video reportage and a game show voting process at the court of King Herod—is he a Lord or a Fraud, ladies and gentlemen, text this number—to renew the energy of political insurgency and repression.”

Anarchy in the UK, indeed. Here’s a taste of what audiences are in for:


The Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular will hit St. Paul on Thursday, July 31 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets ($47-$97) go on sale Friday, May 9 at 10:00 a.m. If you have any doubt as to whether Lydon can still rock, 39 years after the Sex Pistols were founded, watch his 2012 performance with Public Image Ltd. in the Current studios.

Ellie Fuqua is a freshman at Macalester College. She plans to double major in international studies and media and cultural studies, and hopes to pursue journalism as a career.