Friday, April 06, 2007

Rock star relishes role in 'Jesus Christ Superstar'

By Troy Reimink
The Grand Rapids Press

"Jesus Christ Superstar" created a stir upon its 1971 stage debut, largely because of its sympathetic portrayal of Judas.

Corey Glover, who plays Judas in the "Superstar" touring production, likes to think the musical was instrumental in changing how people see Christianity in general, and the relationship between Judas and Jesus in particular.

"I think it was a catalyst," Glover said, calling from a tour stop in Arizona. "I've always had sympathy for Judas. He's been painted with such broad strokes. He's a man that saw the world in a particular way.

"You look at the songs and books that are coming out these days, and there's been a humanization of Judas and Jesus and the whole story," he said. "You look at a song like 'I Don't Know How to Love Him' (sung by Mary Magdalene in "Superstar") -- that's 'The Da Vinci Code!'"

Glover made his name singing with the rock band Living Colour, known for its hit "Cult of Personality." Since August, he has been touring with "Superstar," the Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera dramatizing the last seven days of Jesus' life.

Rock star to theater star has been a natural transition for Glover, who began his showbiz career as a stage actor before joining Living Colour in his early 20s. He had been in commercials and plays, and he appeared in Oliver Stone's "Platoon" in 1986, a year before Living Colour signed its major record deal.

"It's all theater," he said, noting how he used his acting skills to craft the magnetic stage persona he used in the band. "All this stuff is really just acting."

Theater was his first love, and "Jesus Christ Superstar" was one of the first musicals that really caught his attention.

"I saw the movie when I was a child and was enamored with it. I saw Carl Anderson and said, 'I could do that.'"

He was right, but he had big shoes to fill. Anderson was famous for his portrayal of Judas and died in 2004 of leukemia. Before that, Anderson suggested Glover would be good for the role. Two years later, it happened.

Glover said he has been honored to work with Ted Neeley, who played Jesus in the 1973 film version of "Superstar" (for which he earned a Golden Globe) and other Broadway incarnations. This go-round is billed as the farewell tour for Neeley, 63.

"He's incredible and still doing it incredibly well. I'm very grateful," Glover said.

The easy part, he said, is being part of a large touring cast, rather than having to lead a rock band every night.

After breaking up in 1995, Living Colour reunited in 2000 and released an album in 2003. Glover said he has been working on new music for the band while touring.

"We're in the works doing a new Living Colour record as we speak."

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