Tony Time: Why Jesus Couldn’t Betray Judas
What’s the buzz! Tell me what’s a happenin’! Come May 1st, 2012, Josh Young was honored to receive a Tony Award Nomination in the category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical for currently playing Judas in the Jesus Christ Superstar revival that has transferred to Broadway this season. However, many wondered after being plagued by a sudden sickness how Young, making his Broadway debut, was able to pull off such a stunt while being out at one point for almost a solid 3 weeks of the production. Today, Luner on Theatre brings you the story of how despite the fact that Judas betrays Jesus, Jesus Christ Superstar couldn’t betray their Judas.
Josh Young might be making his Broadway debut in Jesus Christ Superstar this season but that is no reason to doubt the talent, passion and will power behind this young new face to Broadway. He has played various gigs all over the place and even starred as Marius in the third national tour of Les Miserable. And now finally after only his third season at the Canada Stratford Shakespeare Festival, Josh Young’s talent has been exposed not only to the theatre community on a much larger scale but has been welcomed to New York City with the transfer of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Young began in the role of Judas this past summer at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival which received national attention and even a visit from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber himself. The show began May 16th and already by the Summer of 2011 there was a buzz about a Broadway transfer in the works for this superstar production. Jesus Christ Superstar closed at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival on November 6th where it proceeded to play The La Jolla Playhouse from November 18th, 2011 till December 31st. The production moved to Broadway then beginning previews March 1st, 2012 at The Neil Simon Theatre with an official opening on March 22nd. Through out everything mentioned above, Young continued to play the role of Judas and wow audiences with his incredible performance in Superstar. But when time came for Broadway, it seems as though disaster struck.
As Jesus Christ Superstar approached its opening night on Broadway, word appeared within the the week that their Judas, Josh Young, had been sidelined from the show due to illness. Many became worried knowing just how long Young has been featured in the role and how well he had been exceeding at it. Superstar worked furiously to rearrange as much press as possible but the opening night on March 22nd, 2012 went on as scheduled. Just a few hours before opening night began, it seemed as though Jesus himself (No…Not Paul Nolan) had a miracle occur. Josh Young given the OK to perform at the opening night of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway. However, this wasn’t the end of the battle for this betrayer.
Following opening night on Broadway, Young returned to being sidelined from the production due to a respiratory infection that followed for a solid week or two after this. Many began to wonder with the return of illness if Young could handle the role of Judas or why the producers hadn’t replaced him entirely yet. The answer lied in the fact that whether you believe it not, Josh Young is the best thing about this Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway.
Proof began in Canada with strong reviews and only continued as the show to Broadway. However, upon reaching Broadway it seemed as though many critics made a point to show their love for Young:
“The standout performance comes from Josh Young as a vocally lustrous and charismatic Judas Iscariot, well known for betraying his onetime mentor with a fatal kiss.” – The New York Times
“The production’s key onstage asset is its Judas Iscariot, Josh Young. And given that this account of the final week in the life of Jesus of Nazareth is told from his betrayer’s point of view, it’s fitting that Young’s electrifying vocals and brooding presence dominate.” – The Hollywood Reporter
Jesus could not betray Judas because Judas is the best thing about this current production. And I’m not trying to downright say the rest of the cast is not talented because that could not be farther from the true. When I got the chance to check out Superstar on Broadway, the cast performed excellent in all categories proving themselves as a legit revival this season in New York hands down holding some of the best kept secrets talent wise such as Lee Siegel.
I think part of this response to Young in Superstar comes from the approach Des McAnuff takes in casting the role for this revival. The role of Judas is usually played by a screlt (that is a scream belt for those of you confused) fantastic tenor that brings to life Andrew Lloyed Webber’s best score. McAnuff has gone lower then usual with Young’s range being more baritone while still being able to be a rock tenor when needed. This new approach to the production is exciting for those who have seen Superstar countless times and are used to the same old.
However, Young holds so much promise in the role of Judas, that the Tony committee reworked some of their scheduling to come back and see him due to the fact that he was sick upon their first visit. Young was shocked, just as many were, about the Tony nomination due to his sickness earlier in the run. He has been quoted as saying:
“100 percent counted myself out [for a nomination] because…I was sick for a good portion of the time surrounding opening. I assumed…weeks ago that this probably wouldn’t happen for me, so I was really just hoping for my show to get the recognition that it deserves. I’m just so shocked, and I also just want to say how much I appreciate the Tony committee [coming back to] see me again or rearranging their schedules because I was sick.”
And if you completely disagree with everything I have mentioned, look at the Tony Award Nominations for this Jesus Christ Superstar revival. Two nominations; Best Revival of a Musical and Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. This nomination has placed him against some fantastic Broadway actors such as Michael Cerveris, Michael McGrath and David Alan Grier. Enough said for this Broadway newcomer.
Only time will tell if Josh Young takes home this year’s Tony Award for Best Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical. But I do have to say, I think this young new face to Broadway is here to stay. Jesus Christ Superstar is currently running on Broadway at The Neil Simon Theatre on 52nd street! This is truly a fantastic revival not to be missed giving this classic rock opera a total 21st century spin that will not only rock Broadway but your world. We hope you have enjoyed this Tony Time segment and continue to check out the rest of Tony Time here at Luner on Theatre! For more information, check out Jesus Christ Superstar’s Official Broadway Website or The Tony Awards Official Website. And of course, stick to Luner on Theatre for all your theatre news you don’t only need but want to know and so much more!