Male. Low Bass with Rocky Top. High priest who sees Jesus as a threat to the nation.
Age range: 18-60
Vocal range: C♯2–F4
Voice type: “Must have a great feel for groove and an astonishing musical presence” (50th)
Male. High Baritone (or Tenor). Fellow priest at the side of Caiaphas who is persuaded by Caiaphas into seeing Jesus as a threat.
Age range: 18-49
Vocal range: G2–D5
Voice type: “funky […] with a great flair for swing and groove” (50th)
Relevant Insights (mainly about Annas)
“I was working with the lyrics that Tim Rice wrote. That was my interpretation. […] People didn’t know what to do at that time. The priests were just trying to interpret their laws and their religious books at the time. Unfortunately, when you do that, everybody’s got their own personal philosophy that colors their interpretation of their so-called religion to some degree.”– Bob Bingham (Caiaphas, original concert tour, 1971; original Broadway cast, 1971; original French cast, 1972; original motion picture, 1973)
“In history, Annas was older than Caiaphas. I kind of played Annas as an eccentric…”– Kurt Yaghjian (Annas, original motion picture, 1973)
“Annas is the greatest character role ever not written. An enormous amount of storytelling can be told by this guy who has a marginal amount of material. […] To me, Annas is as important, if not more important than, Caiaphas. Annas is the guy in charge. Caiaphas is the one who is responsible, but Annas is the guy in charge and is the one with the agenda.”– Danny Zolli (frequent Jesus/Judas/Annas performer)
“Annas is Caiaphas’ father-in-law. Therefore, he’s the elder of the group. Yet, he has stepped down. But he’s the enabler. He’s the one saying, ‘I’m old, I’m wise, and we’ve got to do something about this.’”– Jeffrey Polk (Annas, North American national tour, 2003-05)
“…in acting you can never believe that your character is the bad guy. You can’t believe that you’re evil and that you have evil intentions. I think Annas and Caiaphas have very pure intentions. Looking at it through a historical lens, they’re on the wrong side of history. What they are striving to do, in their minds and through their lens, is the right and good thing.”– Kodiak Thompson (Annas, 50th-anniversary national tour, 2022-23)
(The attentive reader will notice only a single quote from anyone who played Caiaphas, though thankfully, it was someone who made a mark in the role. In truth, for much of the time I was writing this, JCS Zone hadn’t had the opportunity as yet to interview anyone who played Caiaphas, and we only just got the Bob Bingham quote as I wrapped up the book; the full interview will be released on our website soon. I apologize for the previous oversight because this character deserves at least as much attention as the rest of the cast. As I did further research, however, I discovered that interviews with performers who played Caiaphas generally bordered on nonexistent; when I found a few, they were more concerned with hyping a particular production than delving into any detail concerning the actor’s portrayal. I suspect I understand why, and talk more about that in the “My Two Cents” blurb below. Note that said blurb was written before we obtained any Caiaphas quote.)
Not for the last time in these character profiles, I’m placing in one space two characters about whom more can be said as a duo than as individuals. And I’ll start by drawing an unlikely parallel, albeit one that may resonate with those who concur with Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight that “you either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” The relationship between Caiaphas and Annas mirrors that between Jesus and Judas. Like Judas, Annas is the practical one, trying to see the obstacles ahead and worrying about public opinion, while Caiaphas is utterly single-minded, just like Jesus. Is it any wonder Judas surmises they might understand why he’s worried? Perhaps he sees the same team if they had more power and experience under their belts, and he trusts their judgment.
Now let’s unpack that power and experience. This far in, it might be useful to dip into Part 3 of “Historical Background” again for a refresher about the duties, activities, and responsibilities that came with the role of the Jewish High Priest, with slightly more information to ensure the most detailed picture.
The High Priest was the chief religious authority in the land, with critical responsibilities including controlling the Temple treasury, managing the Temple police and other personnel, performing religious rituals, and serving as president of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council/court. The Jews had always picked their High Priest, who served in the Temple and represented the Jewish people on their holiest of days; in fact, tradition mandated that priests could only hail from a specific tribe. Of course, when the Roman Empire took control, they took steps to assume rigid control of this role, noting that the last priestly clan doubled as Israel’s rulers. Under the rule of Herod the Great (the father of the Herod in JCS), to ensure loyalty to Rome, the entire priesthood was dismissed, and a new one was appointed, composed of Jews who were not of the priestly families and more sympathetic to Herod’s (and by extension Rome’s) positions as a result.
Who couldn’t be, after seeing the brutality of the Empire up close? In response to riots protesting the Roman census (when Christ would have been a child), 2,000 crucified rebels lined the road from Jerusalem down south to Sepphoris up north. No doubt, as respectable Jews, the new priesthood felt a need to protect their people, so they were forced to toe a fine line between serving as spiritual leaders and working well with Roman authority, even if it wasn’t a close relationship. There could be no more senseless executions of simple villagers swept up by events, lumped in with actual rebels; a standing arrangement would have to be made for dealing with subversive persons. Law and order must be maintained.
Luckily, that stress came with perks: their position brought substantial wealth, as the High Priest was entitled to a cut of the action from moneylenders changing “unclean” outside money for Temple-approved coinage and merchants selling sacrificial animals. This was a comfortable enough lifestyle to afford them delightful homes in Jerusalem’s Upper City, a wealthy section inhabited by the city’s powers-that-be (notably not the other Temple priests, who maintained more modest dwellings).
Naturally, their relationship with their constituents was somewhat conflicted. They were respected for their position but despised based on public perception of their behavior. Suspicion was rampant. In times of increased socioeconomic disparity, giving an inch to the overlords in hopes of leeway looked like conspiring with Rome. Their great financial success – well, just how clean was it anyway? Political power could as readily demand bribes as a piece of the pie. Where did the corruption end? And so it was that the highest position in the community often went to those trusted least by the Jewish people.
Annas was the High Priest for a decade, from 6 to 15 A.D. However, history suggests that the man knew how to consolidate a power base, as he was the head of a family that would control the high priesthood for most of the first century. Indeed, when the role was first passed on, it was to his son-in-law Caiaphas, who served as High Priest for eighteen years, ten of them alongside the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. For him to maintain his role for so long, Caiaphas and Pilate presumably had a close relationship. But it’s not hard to assume equal credit was owed to lessons in pushing the Roman power’s buttons, for good or for ill, which could only have come from Annas.
With Caiaphas new to the role of High Priest, no doubt he would have sought his father-in-law’s advice as often as he could. After all, he practically handed him the position, so any advice was well worth it. Therefore, it is possible that Annas, as a High Priest emeritus, might have served on the side of Caiaphas in the Sanhedrin called to resolve the fate of Jesus, as the Gospels report and which the show treats as truth rather than theory.
And that’s how we meet Caiaphas, a harried individual with a severe problem: his country is under occupation, his people are in a state of turmoil, and now, so rumor has it, this redneck from Nazareth has proclaimed himself God. If the Romans hear about this, there’ll be hell to pay. Think of the CEO of a Fortune 500 firm facing a strike at one of the plants south of the border. This headache is threatening to become a migraine. What can he do? As for Annas, imagine how he feels about being called in every time his son-in-law has a bloody problem… until it is one.