James (Delisco) Beeks, the actor cast as the traitor Judas on the current North American tour of the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar, has been arrested for his alleged role in the mob attack at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
A resident of Orlando, Fla., Mr. Beeks had been with a 50th-anniversary production of the messianic musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice that is set to arrive at Toronto’s Princess of Wales Theatre on Nov. 30 for an extended holiday-season run.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia announced on Tuesday that the 49-year-old Broadway song-and-dance man had been charged with unlawfully entering a restricted grounds and obstructing congressional proceedings. According to prosecutors, Mr. Beeks was a paying member of the Oath Keepers, a U.S. far-right extremist group.
The travelling Jesus Christ Superstar is performing for a week in Milwaukee, where Mr. Beeks was apprehended on Tuesday. The actor’s photos have been removed from the cast page on the tour’s website, and understudy Eric A. Lewis is listed as performing the role of Judas.
The Toronto engagement is presented by Mirvish Productions. As of Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Beeks was still featured prominently on the website of the Toronto-based theatre management and production company. Before the show arrives, however, the tour producers may recast the part.
According to the production’s website, the musical is based on a 1970 album that “inspired a revolution.” Mr. Beeks was listed in the cast under the stage name James T. Justis. His Broadway credits include Kinky Boots, Aida, Ragtime and Smokey Joe’s Cafe.
Stephen Gabriel, president of New Jersey-based Work Light Productions, which is operating the Jesus Christ Superstar tour, confirmed that Mr. Beeks is “suspended indefinitely” from the company and that the production is “fully co-operating with authorities” during the investigation.
Attempts to reach Mr. Beeks through Work Light Productions were unsuccessful.
On his YouTube page, the actor proclaims himself to be “one of the top Michael Jackson tribute artists in the U.S.” The prosecutors said video and photographic evidence showed Mr. Beeks wearing a Michael Jackson BAD world tour jacket that stood out from the camouflage military garb many of the marauders wore.
After Democratic Party candidate Joe Biden defeated Republican incumbent Donald Trump in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, thousands of disgruntled right-wing insurrectionists swarmed the U.S. Capitol building on Jan 6. Congress went into lockdown as the halls of government were ransacked. The attack left five people dead.
According to USA Today, federal prosecutors have charged more than 600 people in more than 40 states with participating in the attack.
In a review of the Jesus Christ Superstar staging earlier this month at Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa, Calif., a reviewer with the Orange County Register deemed Mr. Beeks’s performance “impactful,” while noting that his upper vocal range was impressive.
In an interview with the Seattle entertainment website Equality 365, Mr. Beeks described the disciple who betrayed Jesus as a hero. “He was a human, and he had to make choices,” Mr. Beeks said. “Technically, Judas should be celebrated instead of booed. I fell in love with the character and feel he has been given a bad turn.”
With a report from J. Kelly Nestruck.
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