I was SO excited to see Jesus Christ Superstar live on NBC on Easter night. It’s my favorite musical (as you probably recall) and this performance did not disappoint. I took the picture above of the crucifixion scene (not the best quality because taking a picture of your TV never turns out that well.) But talk about amazing set designs—to elevate John Legend as Jesus on the cross and then move giant panels to form a cross complete with utilizing lighting to create a lasting image! Wow.
Now we can debate the performances of the singers/actors. (Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas stole the show in my opinion. Would love to hear what you thought if you happened to tune in.) But I have always loved this musical primarily for the music and the premise—a rock opera about Jesus? Yes, please!
Though I also love Jesus Christ Superstar because of the story behind making it. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice wrote this musical in 1970 and when they approached people to help make their vision a reality . . . no one wanted to touch it. A rock opera about Jesus? No thanks. It was controversial to focus on his humanity. Judas is the Narrator? Mary Magdalene sings that she doesn’t know how to love Jesus? The musical ends with the crucifixion? No theater producers in London wanted to touch it.
But they believed in their work. So Webber and Rice decided to make Jesus Christ Superstar a rock opera concept album and found a record company willing to produce it. They wanted the recording to entertain as if it was a musical radio play, taking the listener from A-Z in a straight and carefully constructed line. By making it an album first, it gave the music more energy. For instance, they didn’t have to add bars of music to account for scenery shifts. This musical is a fast-paced rock event.
Then something amazing happened. People loved the music so much that there was a call to see it performed live! (Though the spirit of Jesus Christ Superstar has always been that of a rock concert since the album came first!) It did make its way to the stage with great success. That’s why this performance on Sunday was so exciting. Because it was performed in front of a live audience for TV in a concert-like venue as it was meant to be.
Sometimes we feel passionately about something or have a vision that no one else gets. A vision that other people can’t (or don’t want to) understand. It takes a lot of courage to not abandon your dream. To do what you want to do—because you feel a calling on some level. In the end, the story of perseverance and believing in the work of the creative process inspires as much as the musical itself. So, believe in yourself!
(This Week’s Thoughts 4.5.18)
Photo by Rev. Lauren Lorincz.