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Great Off-Season Performances: Carl Anderson - Heaven on their Minds

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In 1970, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice collaborated on a record project called Jesus Christ Superstar. Initially met with extreme skepticism and criticism for its very modern aesthetics (religious leaders considered it blasphemous), the album reached #1 on the Billboard by 1971, spawned multiple successful stage productions by 1972, and a critically acclaimed film by 1973.

Although the parts of Jesus and Judas were sung by Ian Gillan and Murray Head in the original album, no singer/actors defined those parts than the ones cast for the film: Ted Neely and Carl Anderson. Both received Golden Globe nominations for their performances in the film, and would go on to play their respective parts on stage for more than a decade, until Anderson's death in 2004.

One of the most controversial points of the album/play/film was the interpretation of Judas Iscariot as a tragic hero, ultimately turning Jesus in for death to prevent a bloodbath between Israel and the occupying nation of Rome. Carl Anderson absolutely nailed this part, and no song defines his character more than the one that opens the whole show.

For those who have never seen the play (you really, really should) or want to see it again, the Chanhassen Dinner Theater is performing the show through July. Show time and ticket information is available here. The lead is played by a friend of mine. Don't miss it.