Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert's John Legend, Sara Bareilles Reveal Nerves, Personal Connections to Iconic Musical

NBC's live concert event puts John Legend in his first-ever musical starring role

By Chris Harnick Mar 30, 2018 1:05 PMTags
Watch: John Legend Is Ready to Play Jesus in Live TV Musical

They perform live in front of thousands of people on a regular basis, but Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert is a different kind of beast for John Legend and Sara Bareilles.

"It's a different kind of live performance in one way, because I'm usually performing my own music, and I wrote the songs, I know the lyrics very well," Legend told E! News at NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert junket. "But this—learning a show, learning the character, learning the music adds a layer of complexity and a challenge to it that I don't usually have when I'm performing my own music. We've been rehearsing a lot, we're going to be ready, we're going to give people a great show."

Jesus Christ Superstar Live: See John Legend, Sara Bareilles and More in All Their Musical Glory
Watch: Sara Bareilles Talks Working With John Legend

Bareilles just came off her second Broadway stint in Waitress, the show she wrote the music and lyrics for, but said this is different.

"I can't help but feel the pressure that this is a one-time live event," Bareilles told us. "A lot of pieces have to be in place for this to come to life, but I'm so excited. I love this show, I grew up on this music…It feels like a great thrill of my career that this opportunity arose, it's really amazing."

As for whether Waitress could make the jump from stage to TV screens, Bareilles said she's unsure if it would ever be picked, but "it would be thrilling."

"That show is so near and dear to my heart and has really changed my life in so many ways. I love the story, and I really think it's a really powerful story about a woman sort of finding her voice again…it's timely and really beautiful…I would love to. Let's make it happen!"

In Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, Legend takes on the title role, Jesus Christ, and Bareilles is Mary Magdalene, with a cast that also includes Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, Alice Cooper as King Herod, Norm Lewis as Caiaphas, Ben Daniels as Pontius Pilate, Jason Tam as Peter, Jin Ha as Annas and Erik Gronwall as Simon Zealotes.

Both Legend and Bareilles said they were fans of the Jesus Christ Superstar music—and musical theater—while growing up.

"I was never the lead before, or never so prominently featured as I am in this show, so it's pretty exciting," Legend confessed about his musical past.

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Virginia Sherwood/NBC

These televised live musicals tend to attract an online audience who can't resist sharing their feelings—good and bad—about the show. Will Legend's Twitter-loving wife Chrissy Teigen be chiming in with the live-tweets? "She can't resist a good live-tweet, so she probably will," Legend said.

Click play on both videos above to hear more from Legend and Bareilles.

Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert airs Sunday, April 1 at 8 p.m. on NBC.

(E! and NBC are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)