I don’t know how to love him. ~Lyrics from Jesus Christ Superstar
Ever since I fist encountered the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar on a musical cassette in the mind 1970s, I have been enthralled with the music. I have listened to the songs from that rock opera more than any other song in my extensive collection of music. It is the only music from my early youth that has stood the test of time and remained a staple in my collection as my musical tastes have evolved from bubble gum pop of The Candy Man by Sammy Davis Jr, the first 45 rpm record I ever purchased, to Heavy Metal to Classical to Big Band to Indian Classical Music to now, where pretty much any musical genre can be found in my collection.
Despite my almost forty year fascination with Jesus Christ Superstar, I have never seen the play. I’ve watched the movies both the original version from 1973 and the modern remake from 2000. While I like them both, I am always a tiny bit disenchanted with them because they do not match exactly the sound from my cassette, a sound that is tattooed on my brain. The movies use different singers with their own interpretation that don’t quite match the ideal ingrained in my mind from that original cassette after hundreds of listening hours.
Over the years, the love of the music has also been planted in my children and in my grandson. My grandson heard the music growing up in my house, heard his mother sing the songs. When he first watched the 1973 movie at the age of 7 years, he was captivated. I played him the 2000 version immediately after viewing the original and he remained captivated through the end of the movie. Now, he will watch either of them whenever they are on TV.
On 06 October 2012, for the first time, I went to a live rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar. I was hesitant purchasing the tickets for fear I would be disappointed that it too would not exactly match my ideal. The tickets were on sale so I figured I would try and attend the musical with an open ear.
The play was at a community theatre. Our tickets were in the first row which gave us an up close and personal view of the youthful actors and the austere stage. They all sang well but definitely lacked the vocal authority carried by more accomplished singers.
I was, for the most part, able to put my preconceived notions of how the songs ‘should’ sound behind me and to enjoy the show. I was surprised that a woman played one of the temple priests, however, her vocals were the most powerful in the entire play so it worked.
The Jesus character was very austere in his movements which was particularly troublesome during the Garden of Gethsemane. I would expect someone agonizing over an imminent crucifixion to have body language showing the mental anguish. This Jesus was stock still until he raised his hands from his side in an almost cross and put them down again
All in all, I enjoyed the play and look forward to seeing other versions in the future along with other plays. This was my 2nd play this year, my 2nd play in over 30 years, and I want to attend more in the future. There is something viscerally moving when seeing people performing live on stage that leaves me wanting for more of the experiences.