PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Liebowitz/NBC
PHOTO CREDIT: Eric Liebowitz/NBC

The modern live musical TV special is a bizarre animal. Since NBC revived the live musical tradition in 2013 with The Sound of Music Live, these specials have managed to drive conversation and draw massive ratings on a fairly reliable basis — but they haven’t reliably managed to be, well, good. (For exceptions, see The Wiz.)

But Sunday night’s live production of the ’70s British megamusical Jesus Christ Superstar, starring John Legend as the Messiah and Hamilton vet Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas, was a welcome exception to the rule. Superstar glittered its way through the last days of Christ — on Easter Sunday, no less — with enormous energy and verve, and managed to stick the landing with an unforgettable final image.

Jesus Christ Superstar Live has officially raised the bar for the live TV musicals to come. Here are some lessons they can take away from its success.

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