The traveling theatrical production of Jesus Christ Superstar is in Chicago this week—and an integral part of this musical is Corey Glover, who plays the traitorous Judas Iscariot. Glover—best known as the lead singer of the Grammy Award-winning Black hard-rock band Living Colour—talked with Windy City Times about the play, the classic war movie Platoon ( in which Glover has a role ) and Amy Winehouse.
Corey Glover ( right ) and Ted Neeley in Jesus Christ Superstar. Jesus Christ Superstar's Corey Glover discusses the play and his influential hard-rock band, Living Colour.
Photos by Joan Marcus
Windy City Times: What initially drew you to this production?
Corey Glover: The fact that it was Jesus Christ Superstar—this show that I've loved for a very long time and there's this part I've always wanted to play in it. And, it was a chance for me to do something outside what people would've expected of me. There was a whole bunch of [ reasons ] .
WCT: I was looking up Jesus Christ Superstar and came across Ted Neeley's name. I thought I had accessed info about the 1973 movie [ which Neeley stars in ] —but he's the lead in this current production as well. What's it like performing alongside him?
CG: It's really great. He's still doing what he did in the movie—not exactly [ all ] , but you hear all that stuff—so you feel that much more comfortable; you're right there and are completely immersed in it.
WCT: Do you become so immersed that you become lost doing your performance?
CG: That has happened to me once or twice, I must admit. But you get over it and you keep going.
WCT: The late Carl Anderson played Judas in the movie. Were you concerned about being compared to him and filling his shoes?
CG: I'm trying to be me, although I have to admit—and I'm admitting a lot of stuff to you today—that what I do is a bad imitation of Carl, anyway.
WCT: I'm not sure I believe that, because the reviews have been great. One review called you 'deeply talented' and another referred to your performance as 'riveting.' Just wondering: Do you read reviews?
CG: Sometimes I do, but I disregard them all. After a while, they make no sense. What [ reviewers ] see on the outside is based on that day. A music review [ may ] be based on one or two listens of a song or several songs, so they don't have the depth of what it is we're going through.
WCT: So if someone is reviewed badly on a particular night, that review is unwarranted because the reviewer has no idea of what you all are going through?
CG: Absolutely. Something could be a director's choice and they blame it on the actor—that makes no sense to me.
WCT: What are the best and worst aspects of touring?
CG: Traveling and traveling. You get to see a lot of different places but you're on a bus, so you're constantly moving and you don't get to really see these places. And I have little children, and I'd like to see them every now and then. They come out and see me periodically, but it's not the same thing as putting them to bed and waking up with them.
WCT: So what places are you looking forward to checking out in Chicago?
CG: I don't know because it's snowy and cold! Actually, my children and wife are coming up, so I'm looking forward to that more than anything else.
WCT: Something I did not know is that you're in the 1986 film Platoon. What was filming that like?
CG: Very interesting. We spent three months in the Philippines shooting that. What was interesting is that originally someone else was picked for the gig, and that person decided not to do it. So they contacted me on a Monday, and on Tuesday I was on my way to the Philippines. I had no time to prepare and they gave me a script when I got there. Plus, to prepare us all, on Thursday they put us in a jungle for two weeks, with no hotel, no nothing. [ Laughs ]
WCT: Now, switching to music, this year is the 25th anniversary of the start of Living Colour.
CG: Yes, [ although ] I wasn't in the band when it originally started. But it's also the 20th anniversary of [ the Grammy-winning album ] Vivid.
WCT: Thanks for making me feel old, Corey.
CG: Hey! You're younger than me. I can guarantee you that. [ Interviewer laughs ]
WCT: What's in the future for Living Colour?
CG: We're making a record right now. It's tentatively titled The Chair in the Doorway and it's, basically, Living Colour. We're trying to take some real interesting [ things ] and turn things upside-down.
WCT: Living Colour has won a couple of Grammys. Did you catch the most recent Grammys?
CG: No, I did not. I was working that day, and the television in my hotel room only gave me MSNBC. And I wasn't going to the hotel bar to watch the Grammys.
WCT: I was going to ask what you thought of [ singer ] Amy Winehouse and some of the other performers.
CG: I think [ she's ] great. Some folks have been saying [ her winning ] was like rewarding bad behavior. It's not about her behavior—shouldn't it be about her singing? Ms. Winehouse has a problem; that's pretty evident. But when you hear her songs like Back to Black, you can really hear her pain and you can't deny it. I couldn't care less about her antics; I'd like to hear more from her. There's a lot more to that album than the fact that she has a severe problem.
If the Grammys were not about awarding [ artistry ] , it'd be a completely different show. Were you honoring Tina Turner because she was abused? What about Bob Dylan or Frank Sinatra or Billie Holiday—because of what they did outside of their artistry? Half of that stuff informed their artistry, there's no doubt in my mind. But we honor what they put on vinyl or plastic, or what you can download. It's just a recent phenomenon that you're actually privy to artists' personal lives.
WCT: What's your advice to someone breaking into the biz?
CG: Never stop doing what you do and don't deviate from what you do. What you bring to the table is unique and viable, and worth someone's time.
Jesus Christ Superstar is at the Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph, through Feb. 24. Tickets are $20-$75; visit www.TicketMaster.com, stop by the Broadway in Chicago box offices or call 312-902-1400.