Okay so I just got around to watching the TV version of Jesus Christ Superstar. I have to start by giving credit where credit is due. John Legend can sing. I mean I guess I knew that already, but he showed so many sides to his voice here. I was blown away by his performance. Brandon Victor Dixon was beyond words in his performance and the guy who played Caiaphas Norm Lewis, well, wow, just wow. Sara Bareilles was fantastic as Mary Magdalene and the guy who played Simon the Zealot rocked! The musical performances in this show were superb and thoroughly enjoyable. The only thing I would have changed was the audience proximity to the action. At several times they were applauding when they should have been listening and once or twice drowned out the performances.

A highlight for me was Alice Cooper portraying King Herod. It’s a small part, but Cooper proved the old adage to be true, “There are no small parts, only small actors”, and good old Alice did not disappoint. The song is written as sort of a bit of buffoonery, a humorous interlude in a pretty heavy show and I understand the need for levity at times, but Cooper showed he remembers something we cannot afford to forget. Herod was far from a buffoon. He was an extremely complex person and arguably one of the most evil people in history. Alice Cooper captured this with panache and style. All in all Jesus Christ Superstar live was very well done.

My biggest struggle was with a guy we never saw on screen, namely Andrew Lloyd Webber, the guy who wrote the show. The music (at least the vast majority of it) is phenomenal and really well done. Webber is a bonafide genius and one of the greatest musical theater writers of all time, but I have to tell you his insistence on redeeming Judas, boggles my mind. At one point, it sounded like Judas was blaming God for killing him, right before he takes his own life. I know there are many who struggle with the Judas element especially relating to questions of predestination versus free will and I know not everyone goes to the free will side of the discussion, but I do. I also know I’m being a stickler on the source material but then I have built my life on the source material. The part I did love was Christ embracing Judas at the moment of his betrayal, because it shows His love for all even his betrayer. It took my mind back to John 13, just before Jesus washed the feet of His disciples (even Judas) where it says, having loved his own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. I thought the closing cross scene was something to behold and extremely well realized, but the ending of the show leaves out the most important part…

Jesus is risen!

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