As the polarizing King Herod might have said 2,000 years ago: No more Mr. Nice Guy. Or, perhaps, welcome to my nightmare. NBC said today that Alice Cooper — yes, that Alice Cooper — will play the ruler of Judea in its Easter Sunday production of Jesus Christ Superstar Live!
Also, British theater director David Leveaux will helm the show. He’s a five-time Tony nominee who has directed such U.K. and Broadway production as the 2003 revival of Nine and 2008’s Cyrano de Bergerac.
Cooper has fronted his eponymous band for five decades and is known for wild, twisted concerts that include snakes, mock beheadings and lots of blood. The group has released more than two dozen studios albums, several of which went platinum including the 1973 chart-topper Billion Dollar Babies and its 1972 predecessor School’s Out. The title track from the latter was their first of three top 10 singles — along with “You and Me” and “Poison” — and the group remains a regular presence on classic rock radio.
As an actor, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Cooper has appeared in numerous films and TV series including a brief but memorable role in Wayne’s World (“We’re not worthy!”) and playing the Sun King in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band — in which the band played a decidedly warped take on the Beatles’ “Because.” He also played himself in the 2012 Johnny Depp starrer Dark Shadows.
Jesus Christ Superstar Live! will be executive produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Marc Platt, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. The show airs on Easter Sunday, April 1.
“Alice Cooper, whose theatricality is the stuff of legend, is the perfect rock star to play Herod in our live production,” said Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment. “Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote a showstopping musical number for Herod, and we all look forward to the ‘King of Shock Rock’ taking on the King of Judea.”
Josh Mostel played King Herod in the 1973 film version of Jesus Christ Superstar, and Paul Ainsley originated the role in the 1971 Broadway musical. The character’s big moment comes in “King Herod’s Song (Try It And See).”