'Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular' coming to Philips Arena

Ben Forster stars as Jesus in “Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. (Special Photo: Tristram Kenton)

Ben Forster stars as Jesus in “Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. (Special Photo: Tristram Kenton)


A scene from “Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice at O2 Arena, London. (Special Photo: Tristram Kenton)


• What: “Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular”

• When: 8 p.m. Monday, June 16

• Where: Philips Arena, 1 Philips Drive, Atlanta

• Cost: $30 to $195

• For more information: Visit jesuschristsuperstar.com

“Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular” will be coming to Philips Arena on June 16.

The show, featuring Incubus front man Brandon Boyd, *NSYNC vocalist JC Chasez, Destiny’s Child vocalist Michelle Williams and Sex Pistols singer Johnny “Rotten” Lydon, is taking “Jesus Christ Superstar” back to its arena rock roots.

“(Creators) Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice always envisioned ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ as being treated more as a rock event than a theater piece and so to bring the score back to its original rock roots seemed the right thing to do,” said Kevan Allen, choreographer for the show. “To experience the music in an arena environment just forces through how powerful the original score is and serves it justice. The ambience from a theater to an arena gives it such a different vibe and brings a total new energy and makes this a unique experience for the audience.”

The North American leg of the tour begins June 6 in New Orleans and comes off the heels of highly successful UK and Australian arena tours running from September 2012 through May 2013. The last full arena tour of “Jesus Christ Superstar” in the States was in 1971, when it made its debut.

“In 1971 Andrew and I were thrilled by the first-ever ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ tour of the United States,” Tim Rice said. “We certainly did not imagine then that 43 years later we would be witnessing another America-wide tour of our first big hit show. We are delighted and grateful that enthusiasm for Superstar has been maintained over the years and this new production presents the work in its most powerful format — as a true rock experience.”

“Jesus Christ Superstar Arena Spectacular” will bring something new to the table for everyone, re-imagining the theater staple back to its roots as a rock opera.

“We have totally updated this production and given it a new modern edge that I believe is much more relevant to today’s audience,” Allen said. “We haven’t messed with the story and the score remains the same, but it’s set within riots and anarchy centered around the last few days of Christ’s life and has been brought forward to the modern day.”

The production is massive, with more than 50 people on stage at a time. Nuanced movements would be lost to viewers in the back rows, so the choreography had to be completely re-worked.

“With arena productions, everything obviously is on a much larger scale so the choreography has to be bigger and more impactful so that it can register to the audience sitting the farthest away as well as to the nearest,” Allen said. “We want the audience to share the same experience no matter where they are sitting.”

The all-star cast is a varied one with singers from myriad musical backgrounds. From punk rockers to former boy-band members, the cast seems to have something for everyone.

“I think the amalgamation of the varied styles within our principals only adds to the dynamics of the piece,” Allen said. “No matter what music background our cast come from the score stays the same and their collective diverse talents can only add new energy to the piece. The original score has elements of rock, pop and gospel within it so realistically it all makes sense.”

For more information or to buy tickets, visit jesuschristsuperstar.com.