Saturday, February 23, 2019

Playbill Remembers Carl

Today is the 15th anniversary of the passing of singer and actor Carl Anderson, whom I've been honoring throughout February – the month of both his birth and death.

This honoring continues today with the sharing (with added images and links) of the obituary that was published the day after Carl's death in Playbill, a U.S. magazine that focuses on theatre actors, new plays, musicals, and special attractions. Written by Kenneth Jones, this obituary run under the headline, "Carl Anderson, Superstar's Judas on Stage and Screen, Dead at 58."


Carl Anderson, the actor and singer who was Golden Globe Award-nominated for playing Judas in the film, Jesus Christ Superstar, and appeared in Broadway's Play On!, died Feb. 23 after a battle with leukemia.

In addition to film, theatre, TV and concert work, he sang on a pre-Broadway album of Frank Wildhorn's The Civil War.

Mr. Anderson was 58. He was born in Lynchburg, VA, in 1945, to a steel worker father and a seamstress mother, according to his official website. Mr. Anderson got his first taste of performing when he sang in Baptist church. He also sang in high school.

While serving for two years in the Air Force, he was involved in the World Wide Air Force Talent Contest, allowing him to sing at military bases around the country, strengthening his talent.

He was noticed by a talent agent while singing with a band in Washington, DC. Part of his band's act was performing songs from the concept album of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar.

According to the official Carl Anderson website (here), "The concert touring company of Jesus Christ Superstar was auditioning and, on the last day of auditions, 27 June 1971, Carl – who had been delivered to New York City not knowing why he was there – auditioned for and landed the role of Judas. Two days later, he was in rehearsal." He would later say in interviews that he stepped into the Broadway role of Judas when Ben Vereen suffered throat problems. They alternated the part for a time, and Mr. Anderson then headed west to perform in the Los Angeles company of the rock opera.

But he was soon plucked from rehearsals for a screen test for film director Norman Jewison. Weeks later, he left the L.A. show to begin shooting the film of the rock opera in Israel.

Above: Carl Anderson (left) taking a break on the set of the 1973 film Jesus Christ Superstar with co-stars Ted Neeley (Jesus) and Yvonne Elliman (Mary Magdalene).

Playbill On-Line could not independently confirm dates of Mr. Anderson's Broadway appearance in Jesus Christ Superstar. The Internet Broadway Database information for the production is incomplete.

Mr. Anderson was Golden Globe-nominated for "New Star of the Year" and "Actor in a Leading Role – Musical or Comedy."

In 1992, Mr. Anderson again played Judas in a North American touring revival of Jesus Christ Superstar, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the movie. He would play it on tour again as late as 2002-03.

The most recent national tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, with rocker Sebastian Bach in the title role and Carl Anderson as Judas, dawned Nov. 1-17, 2002, at the LaMirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in California before traveling the country.

The new staging borrowed elements from the 2000 Broadway revival, but was altered and made more militaristic than on Broadway.

Mr. Anderson is heard as solo artist on a number of albums in the Epic, Polydor and GRP labels, as well as on the hot-selling Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack, which was reissued on CD in recent years.

Singing jazz, pop and adult contemporary music over the years, Mr. Anderson had a notable hit recording, "Friends and Lovers," a duet with 1980s soap opera actress and singer Gloria Loring.

Kenneth Jones
February 24, 2004

NEXT: Remembering the Life of Carl Anderson:
“There Was So Much Love”

The Wild Reed's February 2019 Celebration of Carl Anderson:
Remembering and Celebrating Carl Anderson
Carl Anderson: “Pure Quality”
Carl Anderson's Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar: “The Gold Standard”
Carl Anderson's Judas: “A Two-Dimensional Popular Villain Turned Into a Complex Human Being”
Carl Anderson: “Artist and Vocalist Extraordinaire”

When you feel a cool breeze passing by,
know that I am there.

– From the Carl Anderson recording,
"Sarah" (1998)

For more of Carl at The Wild Reed, see:
Carl Anderson: “One of the Most Enjoyable Male Vocalists of His Era”
With Love Inside
Carl Anderson
Acts of Love . . . Carl's and Mine
Introducing . . . the Carl Anderson Appreciation Group
Forbidden Lover
Revisiting a Groovy Jesus (and a Dysfunctional Theology)

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