In the minds of many movie fans, Ted Neeley has been inextricably linked with Jesus for almost 50 years, ever since he played the title character in the iconic 1973 film “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Now the long-haired, chiseled-featured actor, singer, musician, composer, and record producer said he is excited to come to Massachusetts to perform two concerts (with Yvonne Elliman, who played Mary Magdalene in the film) and host a screening of a digitally remastered version of “Jesus Christ Superstar” at the Regent Theatre in Arlington on Sept. 17 and 18 (the concerts) and Sept. 19 (the screening). All profits from the Sept. 19 event will go to support the Regent Theatre. “Yvonne and I have been wanting to do this for some time,” said Neeley in a recent phone interview. “Boston — and the entire Massachusetts area — has always been so supportive of anything I’ve ever done. I can’t wait to get back and perform for the wonderful people there.” The duo will be backed by an all-star band of Boston-based musicians. The Ranger, Texas, native, 77 (“but 33 forever,” he quipped) lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Leeyan (a ballet dancer he met on the set of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and with whom he has two adult children, Tessa and Zackariah), and their 10-month-old Yorkshire Terrier, Benji. We caught up with Neeley to talk about all things travel.
Favorite vacation destination? Carmel, Calif. — no question. I’ve been vacationing there since the 1960s, since I starred in “HAIR” in Los Angeles. And I love it so much, I decided to marry my bride, Leeyan, there, on the beach. It’s also the current home to one of my film heroes, Mr. Clint Eastwood. If you have a chance, go visit his resort and restaurant called The Mission Ranch … it is magnificent. Tell ‘em Ted sent you.
Favorite food or drink while vacationing? Pretty much anything that’s accompanied by a great glass of red wine!
Where would you like to travel to but haven’t? Australia. I would love to bring a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” to the Land Down Under.
One item you can’t leave home without when traveling? I’m sad to say, but these days … probably my iPhone.
Aisle or window? Aisle so I don’t bother anyone when I need to stretch my legs. Most of my flights are on the long side.
Favorite childhood travel memory? Going from Texas to Illinois in a car to visit my dad’s family when I was 5 years old. While in Illinois, my brother and sister and I had an opportunity to sing on the radio, and that became my first-ever public performance.
Guilty pleasure when traveling? Seeing a concert or watching a show in a different city is something I always am looking to do. Most recently, I’ve seen everything from the live stage production of “The Lion King” to a concert by Queen, and just before the COVID lockdown, in March 2020, I was invited backstage to see KISS!
Best travel tip? Always know where you’re going and how you’re gonna get back!