“Jesus Christ: Superstar” nailed by the cast

“Jesus Christ: Superstar” nailed by the cast
March 25, 2013 Teri Anderson
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Friends Community Church was the venue for the Fairbanks Light Opera Theater production of “Jesus Christ: Superstar.”

Fairbanks actors captivated their diverse audience up until the last five minutes of the show. Through no fault of the talented cast or truly accomplished musicians, FLOT’s performance of “Jesus Christ: Superstar” turned sour for some audience members in the last few minutes when the actors left the stage but the background screen flashed a salvation message.

A week before opening night, director Brian Bennett, who is also the assistant pastor of Friends Church, said in an interview that the show didn’t have an evangelical message, despite its venue. “The decision is left to the person whether Jesus Christ is divine or a prophet, a man, the son of god and that’s  left open at the end of the show.”

But the salvation message that Jesus died for the sins of humanity closed the option to some viewers that Jesus was a man or prophet. Brian Bennett said that when he acted in the play 20 years ago they would have gotten criticism had they not alluded to the resurrection. Now 20 years later he says it’s the opposite. Bennett said it never occurred to him to leave out a reference to the resurrection. “The story doesn’t end there,” he says. “It would be like ripping out the last 10 pages of a book.”

The message wasn’t part of the “Jesus Christ: Superstar” written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, but by including it, Bennett says it keeps the play accurate to the story of the Bible.

3 Comments

  1. Loves News 5 years ago

    Dear Terri, clever word play!

  2. Linda Simmons 5 years ago

    Dear Teri,

    I think it is fair to place my personal views first so that it is not mistaken that I am biased towards Christianity or that I’m affiliated with any of the organizations listed in your article. I’m Baha’i and was invited to see Jesus Christ Superstar at the Fairbank’s church while visiting friends. With a 27year background in theater arts, I found your review barely palpable, almost plagiaristic to an article written in Fairbank’s Daily Newsminer (at least the Newsminer article appeared honest & refreshing). When leaving the show Saturday; almost everyone within earshot was praising this rendition of Jesus Christ Superstar and amongst my various social circles I heard not a single comment about the negative comments you point at Mr.Bennet.

    These are the questions I would like to know Mrs. Anderson:

    1. Did you actually attend the play and read the playbill?
    2. How many audience members did you actually interview?
    3. Why concentrate the sole body of your article negatively portraying a brief “good natured” message.
    4. I saved the playbill for my scrapbook; re-visiting the bios I noticed Brian Bennet directed the production, essentially defeating the pointed design of your article? How do you explain exalting the cast and not the director?

    I leave you with this Mrs Anderson: Eleanor Roosevelt wrote “Average minds discuss events, Small minds discuss people” Please ruminate.

    Thanks -Linda Simmons

  3. Brian Bennett 5 years ago

    Teri,

    Turned sour? I shouldn’t think that the message of grace and hope for all of man kind would leave a sour taste in anyone’s mouth.
    Why assume that the cast, FLOT or the musicians were against the message of salvation at the end? Do you have some special insight to the feelings of the cast and crew that I don’t? As a matter of fact the majority of the people involved in this show are not only Christian but were supportive regardless of their beliefs.
    Now, I realize that you state that it was some in the audience who were put off, but why would you, and for that matter Gary Black, (Newsminer author) go out of your respective ways to give cover for people who have not asked for it. As for the qualifier ‘some’ in reference to the members of the audience perhaps a bit more specificity is in order. What if the show were about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. There may be ‘some’ in the audience who think it was actually William Seward or aliens or vampires who did the deed, would you write an article about it? Would you pay them any heed.

    Why not say, “I didn’t like the message of hope” and “I don’t think the cast or crew or musicians or FLOT had anything to do with it.”

    As for the message not being part of the original…I couldn’t disagree more. The entire play is about Jesus’ life. The source material, according to the authors, is the Gospel of John. The message I had on the screen during the crucifixion was John 3:16.

    You write, “But the salvation message that Jesus died for the sins of humanity closed the option to some viewers that Jesus was a man or prophet.” How on earth does that close off an option for anyone? Each person still has to make that determination. My believing in Jesus as the Son of God has no effect on your beliefs no matter how big the lettering on the screen. It seems to me that you, or some unspecified member of the audience takes offense with either the message or with my artistic choice to include additional material from the same source the authors used when creating the show. I can’t imagine that a writer would take issue with artistic license which leaves the former reason as the cause of the offense. Really? What is offensive. If you are not a Christian then I suspect this is just a story of a loving Creator and His Son who gave His life so that we could spend eternity with Him. Nothing offensive there. It is just a story,r ight? Do you take offense when you read a Greek myth?

    I agree with you that the cast and crew did a marvelous job. We all worked together to bring you this show. The entire show. No one was forced to be a part of this show. I shared my vision and my visuals with the cast and crew throughout the process. There were no surprises. Everyone showed up for the performances and stood onstage for the curtain call. Many of us are Christians. Some are not. But I believe all would tell you they support the arts and the artists and they are well aware of the fact that Christianity has been represented in this arena for two thousand years c.f. just about any piece from the Renaissance to name one period of note.

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