search SGN
Wednesday, Dec 12, 2018
click to go to click to visit advertiser's website





 
Cost of the
War in Iraq
(JavaScript Error)
click to go to advertisers website
 
Not our fathers' Jesus
Not our fathers' Jesus
by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

I cringed as I heard the dreaded words whispered from a theater employee, "I heard the star has a sore throat and won't be going on." Not the thing anyone wants to hear when attending a live theatrical performance. When it comes to an extremely familiar show like Jesus Christ Superstar, the weight and star power of the names must come into play somewhat. In this case the stars are Corey Glover (of Grammy-winning group Living Color) and the name in question, Ted Neeley, repeating his title movie role on stage. Taking my seat, I decided to keep my information to myself and wait for the inevitable: the loudspeaker's Godlike voice announcing cast substitutions.

The stage was almost bare with a scaffolding bridge arcing its length. The lighting was dim, covering the stage with the implication of oppression using blue to set the mood. The lights dimmed and I was surprised that the announcement never came.

The musical overture (by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber) began and so did the production. Guards carrying spears crossed the bridge, people - looking hesitant with careful glances upwards - moved in slow motion below. A figure in white robes appeared and my friend leaned over, squeezed my arm and whispered, "It is Ted Neeley." As if they also knew, the audience applauded.

The opening number is a soliloquy by Judas Iscariot. Making his stage debut, Corey Glover's voice is strong and clear. The lyrics (by Tim Rice), which are as important as any actor in a rock opera, are heard clearly and the character's predicament is easily understood. Unfortunately, what I originally interpreted as the character's dilemma became more of the actor's fixation with looking at the stage instead of the audience. Although it took nothing away from the power in his voice, it was distracting. The apostles appear joyous (almost zealously so) at announcing Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem. Mary Magdalene appears with several other women and tries to soothe Jesus' troubles.

When Jesus begins to sing there is no doubt that this is not the understudy. Ted Neeley's voice still contains the same powerful rock-and-roll presence that he had in the 1973 film production. Although a scratchy undertone was evident at times, this was characteristic of anyone preaching to mobs for several days in succession.

At the first song by Caiaphas, Annas and the High Priests, I had my first setback. The voice of Caiaphas (Darrel R. Whitney) started in a rich low bass but when high notes were called for it seemed that he changed the key and spent the rest of the songs wavering between them. Annas, played by Michael Wright, just seemed to be screaming his musical lines.

Let's talk Mary Magdalene. The song, "I Don't Know How To Love Him" has been played forever (reaching # 12 originally in '71), and everyone from your local drag queen to Helen Reddy has performed it, but Tiffini Dodson did something different. She brought emotion to the part. Despite the million times I've heard this song, this was the first listening where I felt the character's struggle. She's a (former) prostitute in love with someone she can't possibly have. Her pain came through in the clear beauty of her voice, enriching the lyrics and tugging at the heart of the audience. Future singers take note: This is the way it was meant to be done.

One shticky situation was King Herod's song. The traditionally campy character is played by Aaron Fuksa and goes right for the comic vein. Appearing in orange crocs, a bathrobe and pajamas, the humorous song is played to full hilt with him engaging the audience in light sparring. The scene is cute and fun, but it does break from an otherwise mood piece.

Does the show still work after all these years? Yes, it does. The later added song "Could We Start Again" is lead beautifully by Magdalene and Peter, showing the musical confusion of Jesus' followers. All the characters and their personal views are easily understood. The simplistic setting draws the audience in and lets them become intimate with each of the characters. There is no need for flash or special effects until the ending, which is done very well. A lone Jesus is affixed to the cross and as the fixture falls away, the body of a man makes ascension.

New!! LGBT & LGBT friendly
"What's Happening WA"

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog
post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog


click to visit advertiser's website

copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2007