Jordan Michael Todd

Jordan Michael Todd on his role in Jesus Christ Superstar

Following several acclaimed and sold-out runs in London, Jesus Christ Superstar is coming to Sunderland Empire from 11 June. Right before the big show, we sit down to have a chat with local star Jordan Michael Todd

Caroline Dask

Journalist at Luxe

No matter which corner of the world you come from, you have heard the name ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ before. Described as a ‘gorgeous, thrilling and heavenly musical’ by The Guardian, it’s certainly a production worth experiencing.

The iconic 1970s rock score was originally released as a concept album and opened on Broadway in 1971 at the Mark Hellinger Theatre. The original London production ran for over eight years. By the time it closed, after 3,358 performances, it had become the longest-running musical in West End history at that time.

Jesus Christ Superstar is set against the backdrop of an extraordinary series of events during the final weeks of the life of Jesus Christ, as seen through the eyes of Judas.

Jordan Michael Todd

Reflecting the rock roots that defined a generation, his role in the musical and the power of live theatre is Jordan Michael Todd. Originally from Sunderland, Jordan gained a scholarship to train at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. In 2015, alongside his band, Jordan reached the live finals of Britain’s Got Talent.

Since then, Jordan has been in ‘Into The Woods’, ‘Grease The Musical’, ‘The Forest of Enchantment’ and many others, and now, he’s taking a part in the powerful production of Jesus Christ Superstar.

Jordan, you’ve been in a lot of theatre productions. What drew you to be a part of Jesus Christ Superstar?

Jesus Christ Superstar has been around for over 50 years and is such an iconic musical with themes everyone knows. When the opportunity to be part of it came up, I just couldn’t say no. Opportunities like this are rare in such a competitive industry, so it was a chance I simply had to take!

How did you prepare for your role in this iconic musical?

Preparing for my role in Jesus Christ Superstar was a continuation of my lifelong training. From childhood, I’ve taken dance, singing, and acting classes, mostly in London. By the time auditions came around, I was ready to hit the ground running.

The show is incredibly demanding, especially the choreography, so it was both intimidating and an honour to take it on. When the opportunity came, it was just a matter of getting started and giving it my all.

Do you have a favourite scene or song in the show?

I actually think it’s the scene towards the end (spoiler alert!) when Jesus gets crucified. The music during this part, especially the iconic ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ is incredibly inspiring and powerful. Even after nearly a year on tour, it never gets tiring.

Every night, when that music starts, I have a moment of awe and realisation that I’m part of something truly amazing. The way it stirs something deep within you is a testament to how well-written and impactful the show is. It reminds me of why I love performing and how fortunate I am to be part of such a legendary production.

Jordan Michael Todd in Jesus Christ Superstar

As someone from Sunderland, how does it feel to bring this production to your hometown?

I absolutely cannot wait. The Sunderland Empire is my home theatre, it’s where I saw my first musical and so to be able to bring this production back home is incredibly exciting. Especially, having my friends and family there, it’s a dream come true. It’s the culmination of a lifetime of work and truly special for me and my family.

One of my best friends Katie messaged me and said she will be there in the front row, so it’s brilliant and I am so looking forward to 11 June!

How does this production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ differ from previous versions?

I would say that this production is distinctively contemporary. Originally staged at Regent’s Park Theatre in London in 2016, it won an Olivier Award and has since evolved into what it is today.

Despite its modern touches, the show’s timeless quality shines through, making it feel relevant without being tied to any specific era. This blend of contemporary and timeless elements sets it apart from previous versions.

Why do you think ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ continues to be a relevant and powerful musical for audiences worldwide?

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ remains relevant and powerful because its themes resonate universally, especially for those with religious beliefs. The music and lyrics by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice are exceptionally well-crafted, vibrant, and punchy, allowing the show to stand the test of time.

Unlike some music that fades away, this musical has a special substance that continues to impress. It’s truly a pleasure to be part of something so enduring and impactful.

Jordan Michael Todd in Jesus Christ Superstar

Who would you say is the target audience?

That’s a really good question! I think the show can appeal to anyone, regardless of religious beliefs, because the story of the Bible is widely known. The brilliant music also draws people in.

While it’s suitable for a broad audience, it might be best for those above a certain age due to some onstage violence depicting the final days of Jesus. But overall, it’s a show that can captivate anyone and everyone.

What can you tell us about the set design, costumes, atmosphere, and how these elements enhance the storytelling?

This production is a perfect storm of all elements coming together seamlessly. The lighting is spectacular, and the set design is meticulously put together. The sound design is magical and it certainly enhances every moment. Each department has outdone itself and came together to create something that, in my opinion, is as close to perfection as it gets.

Jordan Michael Todd in Jesus Christ Superstar

What do you think makes live theatre, especially a musical like ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ a unique experience for the audience?

Oh, I love this question! Live theatre, especially a musical like ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ offers a unique experience for the audience. Unlike cinema, where everything is prerecorded, live theatre creates a special atmosphere because it’s happening right in front of you.

Each performance is one-of-a-kind; even though the songs and choreography may be the same, the energy and nuances vary, making every show distinct. This makes the audience members part of a unique moment that only they will ever witness. It’s a truly special and unforgettable experience.

What message or feeling do you hope the audience takes away from the production?

I hope the audience takes away the joy of theatre from our production. Despite the heavy topic of Jesus Christ’s death, I want people to feel inspired to pursue their dreams. The incredible music and performance is sure to leave a lasting impact, and I just hope people leave feeling that they’ve experienced something truly special.

From being on tour, I can say that regardless of whether the people fully grasp the story, they always come out and just go ‘Wow’!

Jesus Christ Superstar with Jordan Michael Todd is on at Sunderland Empire from 11 June until 15 June. Book your tickets here.