Friday, October 20, 2006

A just-right Judas - Rocker Corey Glover steps into big shoes in 'Superstar'

By Rich Copley

If you were looking for the blueprint for the metal rock band Living Colour, you might have turned your eyes on Jimi Hendrix, the Clash or even Rush.

And when Corey Glover and Vernon Reid formed Living Colour -- which hit it big in 1988 with the album Vivid -- their frontman- guitarist relationship had obvious comparisons to Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page or the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

But to Jesus and Judas?

"I loved the movie of Jesus Christ Superstar," Glover, 41, says. "I watched it practically my entire life, and it affected me very deeply."

In particular, he looked up to Carl Anderson, who played Judas in the 1973 film, based on the hit concept album and Broadway version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's rock opera.

"Judas seemed like the juiciest role, and Carl Anderson's performance really influenced my concept of a rock singer, particularly a black rock singer," Glover says.

Indeed, Anderson is nearly synonymous with the role, even having sung it when a Superstar tour rolled through Louisville in 2003.

Anderson died in 2004, leaving the question of who would play Christ's betrayer on the latest tour, which is at the Lexington Opera House this weekend.

The producers' eyes eventually turned to Glover.

"It's a daunting task," Glover said of stepping into Anderson's sandals, particularly performing opposite the Jesus he saw in the movie, Ted Neeley.

"That freaks me out every single day," Glover says. "It's excellent. He's an amazing performer."

Likewise, Neeley says.

"It was the most devastating thing," Neeley says of the death of his co-star in the movie and numerous stage productions. "There was no one more special. He was the greatest singer in the world, and he and I were dear friends all of our lives.

"This is the first time I have started any production of this piece without Carl's involvement."

Neeley says he and the producers spent more than a year auditioning and interviewing candidates to play Judas before finding Glover.

"He is absolutely wonderful," Neeley says. "He has faced the challenge of being compared to Carl everywhere we go and done a wonderful job."

It's a good job to have, even though Living Colour is still a going concern for Glover.

"I have no idea how this happened," Glover says, "but this is an amazing experience doing something I have dreamed of all my life."

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