Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon takes on role of Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar

John Lydon, best known as Johnny Rotten, is set to play the formidable King Herod in a US tour of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber's hit musical.

Sharing the story of Christ's last week on earth through dance and song, the production is widely heralded as a classic. It was recently performed in a UK cathedral for the first time in Gloucester, and will now be touring 50 cities across the US in its biggest ever arena tour.

Besides Lydon, the cast that features 'N Sync's JC Chasez as Pontius Pilate, Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child as Mary Magdalene and lead singer of Californian rock band Incubus, Brandon Boyd, who will take on the unenviable role of Judas Iscariot. The title role stays with British singer Ben Forster, who won ITV's Superstar in 2012 and went on to play Jesus in a UK arena tour.

It's fair to say that Lydon is a somewhat unusual choice for a play centring on the life of Jesus; the Sex Pistols' debut single released in 1976 opened with the line: "I am an anti-Christ, I am an anarchist."

However, Lydon told reporters in New York: "I'm here to sing with the King of the Jews, who could ask for anything more?"

For his part, Forster said he is delighted to be taking the show stateside: "For a musical theatre performer like I am, there's no bigger part to play. It's not hard to sing, and someone with such a great story so, for me, it's the ultimate."

Tim Rice added: "It's a great story that's a great part of our culture worldwide, so it's always relevant, I think.

"People have been writing about Jesus and Bible stories for hundreds of years. I think it's a story that affects everybody in Western culture, whether they believe in it or not.

"I think if you tell [the story of Jesus] in an original way, which we did back in 1971, people will react to it. That's true 43 years on, as it was for us back in 1971."

The tour will begin in New Orleans on June 9 and will show in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, among other cities, before finishing at the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia on August 17. Tickets are available from