John Legend has performed for the president, written scores for films and stage, and created music that will echo themes of life and love forever. Even with is kind of high-powered creative resume, those accomplishments pale next to portraying the life of the greatest man to ever live. “Jesus Christ Superstar” is the latest live broadcast NBC stage production, and John Legend, Sara Bareilles, and Brandon Victor Dixon are among the all-star cast who are compelled to give a triumphant performance.

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Many actors can detail the “burden” of carrying the immense scriptural and social role, but legend describes his response to the newest revival as “awesome,” and no sign of nerves are apparent.

Easter gift

Sarah Bareilles was not even born until years after the acclaimed Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber musical of “Jesus Christ Superstar” stormed the stage with its unforgettable songs, relevant language, and an embodiment of the Christ figure created to speak to a youthful generation without departing from the biblical context.

“What a gift!” gushes the acclaimed “Brave” singer-songwriter, referring to her role of Mary Magdalene with “Today” host Sheinelle Jones on March 23. She relishes playing the part of the woman who was so beloved by Jesus, and so internally “conflicted” about her own feelings for him. Her song is one of the most pivotal in the production, and her role is the same one that made Yvonne Elliman a star never to be forgotten on Broadway or the popular music charts.

Bareilles is balancing her role in her own hit show, “Waitress,” which is in a theatre just down the way from NBC rehearsals, but she's not short-changing her role as Magdalene, or the mammoth song [VIDEO] that is part of a score for the ages. “It ain't broke,” Sara Bareilles assuredly says of the “Jesus Christ Superstar” music. This reinvention won’t need to reinvent any touches from Webber or Rice. “This is one of the greatest scores of all time,” asserts the actress-singer, who is gauging her energy to give the most on Easter [VIDEO] Sunday.

Active audience

Unlike past live NBC stage productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Peter Pan,” “The Wiz,” and “Hairspray,” this venture will not lean heavily on screen or past preserved stage interpretations. The visual imagery will be “updated and fresh,” in John Legend’s words, allowing the audience to be a “major character” in the musical. Producers want the feel of a concert experience to be conveyed in every move, and Legend has no learning to do in that arena.

“It’s what we do for a living,” he stresses. He can slip right into center-stage performer mode on tour because his band members are not “Ordinary People,” to play the artist’s hit song. They fall right into playing the shows they know so well.

Tony Award nominee, Brandon Victor Dixon portrays Judas in this production, and the actor strives to “pull apart” his character to show the human frailty, and the complete love [VIDEO] of Jesus, who wants so desperately for his friend “to listen.” The star of “Shuffle Along” feels grateful that this “room and space” have allowed such talents to come together for the production, and assures that “words and music” will be in perfect sync on the holy Sunday for “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Alice was first on board

Rock icon Alice Cooper was the first to sign on to the production, as related by the NBC live producer, Neil Meron. The artist who truly created the first “rock theatre” persona and played on shock and thrill to the delight of fans through the 70s to today will portray Herod. He already had played the despicable ruler on record for “Jesus Christ Superstar” 15 years ago, and Tim Rice felt he would be perfect in this interpretation.

Alice Cooper is actually a longtime person of faith, who has even taught Sunday school in the past, providing him with an authentic dimension of both conviction and performance on the stage. Producers have dubbed Cooper as “an anchor” to the live outing, and his being the first to sign on to the cast as “pretty thrilling”

Anyone who remembers Alice Cooper in his heyday might also remember getting that first album of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and pull out the thick song booklet, and capturing every syllable of the opening “What's the buzz, tell me what's happening…” introduction to the show. The young generation today certainly needs a shot of grace and power, so perhaps it's time to let them see this familiar vision of Jesus through familiar songs and a new light.