The Guardian, Cif Belief: Jesus Christ Superstar teaches us the perils of celebrity

As the religious rock opera turns 40, its message of the dehumanising effects of fame is as relevant as ever

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s rock opera Passion play Jesus Christ Superstar sees the 40th anniversary of its stage debut this year. Panned by some critics at the time of the initial 1971 Broadway production (music magazine Down Beat called it “a shoddy piece of hackwork brought to prominence by massive merchandising”), the musical’s huge popular success has led many to dismiss it as pure kitsch. But while the lyrics are often clunky and the score typically overwrought, the musical was a turning point in the popular cultural representation of Jesus, making a powerful statement about the figure of the celebrity in the process…

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