Simon Zealotes

I have very little use for musical theatre, but I have a soft spot for the classic rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar. The film version remains one of my favorite movies from childhood. The music is, of course, the main attraction, but what makes the movie so endearing is its handmade quality. It’s certainly not low quality by any means. It’s obviously made by professionals. But the filmmakers handled their lack of fancy Hollywood budget by going easy on superfluous doodads like costumes and sets. All they have is dancers – outstanding ones – in regular street clothes, on an unadorned set in the middle of the desert, just doing their thing. The story of Christ doesn’t require historical verisimilitude; by its very nature it requires suspension of disbelief. Jesus can be a tawny-haired dreamboat, and his acolytes can be hippies in halter tops, and the Roman guards can be armed with prop machine guns left over from some war movie. It’s still the same story about the Son of God that we all know and love. The telling of the story, in whatever context, is in itself an act of theatre. This, however, is the only telling of it I will accept.

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