I have never seen the play JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR GOSPEL. I went last night to see the production currently being mounted at the Alliance Theatre here in Atlanta. I spent six seasons working at the Alliance as a house manager and was thrilled to see old friends - both in the front of the house and backstage. The production is HUGE! The set is multi-tiered with moving balconies and stairs that extend into the audience (if you have front row seats at this production, you should be paid for being part of the show...kidding, just kidding.) The cast, which includes several local Atlantans making their theatrical debuts as choir members, is one of the largest I've ever seen - next to the annual classic, A CHRISTMAS CAROL. And the talent - amazing! Some of my favorite acting and singing talents - Bernadine Mitchell, Chandra Currelley, Eric Moore and Valerie Payton - are all a part of this amazing cast and newcomer Nicole Long - let's just say, you ain't heard the last of this bank teller turned actress, not by a long shot.
BUT...(you knew it was coming, didn't you?)
I sat through 75% of the play squirming in my seat at how the last week of Christ's life was being presented on stage. I understand all about "artistic license" and I am not a Bible-thumping censor that thinks that the way I believe is the only way to believe, but ... where do we draw the line between telling the truth of the story of Christ's sacrifice and the story of salvation and "doctoring it up a little" so that it is ... sexier, edgier, more appealing to the masses? I couldn't finish reading Dan Brown's book, The DaVinci Code, for the same reason. No where in the Bible is there an intimation of an intimate and/or sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene - and yet, Dan Brown's book and this play (albeit in a subtle way) both touch on those themes. No where in the Bible does it imply that Christ, while in the Garden of Gethesemane on that fateful Thursday evening, blamed God the Father for the path He was about to trod. It just made me uneasy...and here's the reason why:
What if someone has never heard the gospel story of Jesus and this is their first exposure to it? If you take away Jesus' divinity and only show His human-ness, then He becomes nothing more than a "good man" who did a few miracles - as opposed to the Son of God Who became flesh so that we could have salvation and a right to eternal life and communion with God. I don't mean to preach my beliefs, truly I don't - but I just think some lines shouldn't be crossed...not even in the name of "artistic freedom or license."