Eric Lee Johnson

No Business Like Show Business

Berlin, Musicaldarsteller Eric Lee Johnson in seiner Wohnung Foto: Kai-Uwe Heinrich
Eric Lee Johnson, an American in Berlin.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Many directors and performers who shaped the German-speaking musical theater scene in the 1980s, like the American Eric Lee Johnson, still perform today.

  • Facts


    • Eric Lee Johnson was born in Washington D.C. and came to Europe as a 19-year-old in 1979.
    • Helmut Baumann’s version of “Jesus Christ Superstar” starring Eric Lee Johnson premiered in September 1984.
    • Having lost many friends to AIDS, Eric Lee Johnson is an active supporter to those diagnosed with illness, performing intimate concerts at local hospitals and groups in Berlin.
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It was typical of Berlin in 1984. Helmut Baumann had “Jesus Christ Superstar” all set to show at the palatial Theater des Westens.

But unsurprisingly, the theater wasn’t ready, and construction work was dragging on. Mr. Baumann, the artistic director, had no choice but to open his first production in a dreary exhibition hall.

It was an overnight hit though, making Eric Lee Johnson, a young singer from Washington, D.C., a superstar too.

Mr. Johnson had been working in Europe for five years, on the way to achieving his dream.

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