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Jesus Christ Superstar performer Barry Dennen dies aged 79

Barry Dennen. Photo: Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock Barry Dennen. Photo: Andrea Raffin/Shutterstock
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Barry Dennen, who played the master of ceremonies in the West End premiere of Cabaret and created the role of Pontius Pilate in Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway, has died aged 79.

He had been hospitalised since June, when he suffered a brain injury following a fall, and died on September 26.

The Chicago-born actor also devised and directed the nightclub show that launched the career of Barbra Streisand.

He made his UK debut in the 1968 production of Cabaret at the Palace Theatre, directed by Harold Prince and starring Judi Dench as Sally Bowles.

It won him an Evening Standard award and led to Andrew Lloyd Webber casting him as Pilate for the original concept album for Jesus Christ Superstar. He reprised the role on Broadway and in the 1973 film version.

His other London stage appearances included Sam Shepard’s La Turista at the Royal Court Upstairs in 1969, Aaron to Steven Berkoff’s Lucius in Titus Andronicus at the Roundhouse in 1971 and Peter Ustinov’s Overheard at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 1981.

An accomplished writer, in later years he was a popular voice-over artist contributing to video games and animated films and television series including Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

A full obituary will appear in a future edition of the Stage.

 

 

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