Feb 23, 2023Liked by Deanna Kreisel

Fascinating. JCS is so primal for me because my mother actually took 9-year-old me to see the original Broadway cast touring in Seattle in '72. She'd either just gotten the album, or did immediately after. She was a classical-music person with zero interest in rock, and also emphatically (?) ex-Catholic; we were probably equally out of place at that show & still can't understand why were were there. I mostly remember it as extremely loud with pyrotechnic lighting effects. But within a few months my brother and I had the album memorized, and could (and did) sing it end to end, frequently. We saw the movie when it came out the next year, and that was an intensely emotional experience. I was 10, he was 12. Musically, we were just getting into Elton John, and our standard filmic and tv narrative fare was all pretty light. I had nether musical nor narrative categories for understanding, contextualizing or really processing JCS; it was just an emotional storytelling firehouse.

At the time, my narrative identifications were probably a weird mix of Judas/Carl Anderson and Pilate/Barry Dennen. It took me literally decades to warm to Ted Nealey (remember that I'd gotten used to Ian Gillan in that role, and vocally there's really no contest); though more recently I appreciate Neeley's performance, esp opposite either Dennen or Anderson.

"You liar, you Judas...."

"Why don't I just stay here and ruin your ambition--Christ you deserve it!"

But Norman Jewison did have some fantastic movie ideas, as you mention. Temple scene, tanks, angel/jets. Also the montage of medieval iconography after "Just watch me die....see how, see how I die..." Still gets me.

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Thanks for this, Matt! Wow -- I am jealous you got to see the show in person. (And I understand you point about taking a while to warm to Ted Neeley!)

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