He’s gone from Broadway to live television. The Tony-winning Brandon Victor Dixon plays Judas in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert,’ so learn all about this politically minded actor.
1. He’s used to playing a complicated villain. While Jesus is the titular character, some might argue that Judas is the real star of Jesus Christ Superstar. John Legend, 39, is set to play the lead in the April 1 broadcast of Jesus Christ Superstar Live In Concert, but all eyes will be on Brandon Victor Dixon, 36. The Broadway star will portray Judas Iscariot in this production of Lord Andrew Lloyd Weber’s controversial musical. Thankfully, he’s quite experienced when it comes to being a misguided antagonist. Brandon assumed the role of Aaron Burr in Broadway’s “Hamilton,” taking over for the departing Leslie Odom Jr. “My interpretation of Aaron Burr in ‘Hamilton’ allowed people to see the sensitivity of him,” he told Billboard, “and I’m doing the same thing here with Judas. The music has carried the show’s legacy. I’m hoping they can embrace the words.”
2. He’s very outspoken on politics, to put it lightly. It was actually Brandon who addressed Vice President Mike Pence when he took in a performance in November 2016. “We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights,” he told the vice president-elect. “We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”
3. He’s a Tony-winning Broadway star. Brandon’s performance as Harpo on the 2006 Broadway adaptation of “The Color Purple” earned him a Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in A Musical. He would actually win a Tony in 2014 – but not for acting. As a producer of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” he won a Tony for Best Revival of a Musical. Two years later, he would be nominated for Best Featured Actor for his role as Eubie Blake in “Shuffle Along.”
4. Brandon grew up religious but now claims to be spiritual. While Alice Cooper, another major antagonist in Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, is a devout Christian, Brandon says he’s more spiritual than religious. “I grew up in the Episcopal Church, went to private school in that church, went to chapel every day. It was a constant through my adolescence,” he told The New York Times. “Then we started to shift, to the Unitarian church. Now, spirituality plays a role in my life, but not religion. For me religion is a political construct, and spirituality is a community construct, and there’s a real difference.”
5. Brandon never saw Jesus Christ Superstar prior to landing the role. Remember – always watch the whole movie or stay until the very end of the show, because there could be a twist. Brandon found this out when researching for the role. “I had never seen [Jesus Christ Superstar, had never heard the soundtrack — I really had no clue until I got this job,” he told the Times.
“I watched the movie up until Judas was dead — that probably says something about my own personal character — and then we were in rehearsal and I overheard the musical director saying something about ‘You know, after Judas comes back’ — and I was like, ‘What? Judas comes back?’ And I went home and I finished the movie and found out Judas comes back and sings the best song in the entire show. I was floored.” Spoiler alert!