|Jesus, Judas and the apostles on stage at the Maumee Theater|
Jesus Christ Superstar, the 1970s rock opera, is now on stage at the Maumee Theater, and it's a wonderful production (by the 3B productions company). The actors, the voices, the simple set and contemporary costumes, the staging of the various ensembles that respond like Greek choruses to the unfolding drama, and the orchestra, with a great piano player, are all outstanding. The dissonence of the overture's score at the opening sets the tone, from the first act to the Gethesame and Cruxifiction scenes at the end. It's exciting.
I left the theater singing the music. The tunes are still playing in my mind as I write. I've always loved Andrew Lloyd Webber's music and Tim Rice's lyrics. I don't remember the details of the 1970s production I saw I think in Ann Arbor, but this staging at the Maumee Theater has its own vibe.
From time to time I'd lean over to ask my daughter if this or that was actually in the Bible. "In Matthrew, Mark, Luke or John?" I'd whisper. Mostly she said "Well no, it's not," or "No, it's different." At one point she leaned over and whispered, "That's in." Judas' suicide. Wow, I had forgotten that story. "Why did you pick me to betray you," Judas asks in anquish, as the moaning and groaning of the dark ensemble closes in on him, stilling his voice.
So many doubts. This is the fascinating aspect of Webber's opera, teaming with dissonence and intentional anachronisms, from jubilant or writhing ensembles to screaming falsetto, the anquished cries of Judas and Jesus, the slapjack vaudeville scenes, and then to a finale that still leaves us full of questions.