Saturday, December 24, 2016

Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera 2016


Merry Christmas Eve! As it was only about five years ago that I discovered the existence of Christmas Eve, I've never cared too much for it, but as it is always a peaceful evening, I considered it the perfect time to put some words down about the Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera (I would like to state here that this discussion on Jesus Christ Superstar is very appropriate at the day before Christmas with Jesus Christ being the birthday boy and all that, but the rock opera tells the story of Jesus's last week before he got crucified, so this discussion would perhaps be more suitable around Eastern, although I suspect that they're having shows here around this time because more people would feel a connection with Christianity around Christmas and literally nobody cares for Eastern). The Jesus Christ Superstar rock opera tour has currently arrived in our country and I went to see it together with my mom and my three aunts. They would originally do only three or four shows, for which we bought tickets ages ago, but due to their great success they have extended performance date throughout the entire month of January! Not very surprising though: when they did a supposedly three-months-tour starring Ted Neeley in the 90s, it was extended for five years! The current show is an English-spoken Italian production, that did shows in The Netherlands in 2015, and 2016 will be the very last year you will be able to see this original rock opera by Tim Rice (script) and Andrey Lloyd Webber (music) starring Ted Neeley as Jesus Christ. 

Why is that such a big deal? Well, the rock opera is from 1970 and was performed at Broadway for the first time in 1971. Ted Neeley was involved in this first production, initially as Jesus Christ's understudy, and later got casted to play Jesus in the film that was released in 1973. After that he did some other things and some more Jesus Christ Superstar shows and tours, and by this time he has played the part of Jesus Christ more than 5000 times! The man is 73 years old today, and he's still playing Jesus like it ain't no sh*t. But when he was doing the movie, he must have been around 30 years - and when I watched the movie I was like: "Good Lord! Jesus Christ is hot?!" 

We will have a short break to appreciate that.



Of course my mom and her sisters loved the musical. It was in their time that the movie came out, and it happened to be the very first movie they had ever seen at a movie theatre - they even went for a second time. By now they know all the songs by head (so basically the entire show bc there are just songs, no regular lines) and seeing the rock opera performed live on stage brought nostalgic feelings to them. The day we went, I had not seen the full movie yet (just some scenes for educational reasons in high school) but I'm kinda familiar with the storyline as I've read quite some parts of the New Testament - though Jesus Christ Superstar is only loosely based on what's said in the Bible, and some parts are completely made up (as in, even more made up than the Bible's original).

At the beginning of the show, it took me some time to get into it. I thought it was quite chaotic and dull at times, but those thoughts soon changed as the show proceeded, and at the end I loved it! Judas played his part extremely well, Mary Magdalene sung incredibly beautiful, and I loved the scene with king Herod, which was portrayed almost dragqueen-ish, though very entertaining. I liked how 70s influence could still be seen clearly (just as in the movie), with people wearing sleeveless jackets, maxi-skirts and tie-dyed T-shirts - even though the story is set in the Middle East in the year 30-something. Then it was also interesting how they did not portray Judas simply as a traitor, but rather as a person with mixed and contradicting feelings, who was continuously having mental breakdowns and who's choices made were not quite incomprehensible. Jesus, on the other hand, was portrayed as a lot more agitated and aggressive than the Bible does - the discrepancy was a lot like that between book-Dumbledore and movie-Dumbledore in the Goblet of Fire!

Decor was simple, which was not bad as it emphasized the acting and singing, but what they should leave out next time are those "special effects", a.k.a. projecting Word-art like texts in the background, with letters toe-curlingly spinning around - it seemed quite unprofessional. Also I didn't quite understand why pictures of all kinds of catastrophes, disasters and wars from the last century until now could be seen when Jesus was beaten forty times - as if they were suggesting that those things have happened because of Jesus's suffering for forty times in a row?!! I found it quite disturbing and unnecessary.

Of course there was also a lot of vague stuff in the storyline that left you with a lot of questions, but honestly what else would you expect from a story based on the Bible? I think it's may be best to see this rock opera as completely separated from the Bible and all that it state has happened before the events that the rock opera includes, and see it as most importantly a story on its own, to avoid thoughts and questions that are too complicated and that will distract from the incredible performance and wonderful show that is put down.

If you get the chance, I would absolutely recommend you to go see it! I guess this is a typical must-see musical, not only because it's a classic, but also because this will be your last chance to see it starring Ted Neeley in the "role of his life" (That's quite touching actually).

Now that I'm done writing a little something about Jesus Christ Superstar the musical, I'll spend the rest of this wonderful Christmas Eve having some quality movie time with Mitchell. I'm excited for tomorrow though - I've been running around all day to do some preparations, like last minute gift shopping, doing groceries for a Christmas brunch that may or may not succeed, and spray-painting my (artificial) green Christmas tree gold, because I like traditions but I hate a sh*tload of green in the center of my living room. The good (g)old tree may make it's debut on the blog soon.

Have a Merry Christmas! 


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