‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ an intense, valuable show

Easter Day has come with a special surprise for both religious and non-religious people. On Sunday, April 1, NBC exhibited the long-awaited “Jesus Christ Superstar: Live.”

For the past few months, there have been great expectations for the event, which starred John Legend as Jesus Christ, Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene, Alice Cooper as King Herod and Brandon Victor Dixon as Judas.

The show is just one of many live Broadway shows that NBC has been produced for a couple of years. Some of the shows have pleased audiences such as “Grease,” “Hairspray” and “The Wiz,” but some have disappointed such as the infamous version of “Dirty Dancing” starring Abigail Breslin, “Peter Pan” and “The Sound of Music,” starring Carrie Underwood.

The series has earned NBC high ratings in a time where YouTube and Netflix are leaders in entertainment. And two weeks ago, things were not different. Over 9 million viewers tuned in on Easter Day to watch Legend give life to one of the most well-known stories.

The New York Times has called “Jesus Christ Superstar Live” a “conceptual and artistic triumph” that “from the multicultural cast to its desconstruction of religious iconography” was “as thoughtful and challenging as the show has ever been.”

As a born and raised Catholic and a Broadway lover, I knew I would love this show. I am also a huge John Legend fan and was excited to see him on stage for the first time.

While I was watching it, laying down on one of my best friends’ huge bed, wrapped around a blanket and laughing at her stupid comments, I went on Twitter to check other people’s reactions. Some were having fun, others were confused by Cooper’s makeup and hair, but I was surprised to see that some Christians were actually complaining about how the show was blasphemous.

I did a little research into it, and the reasons I found were mostly related to the fact that “Jesus Christ Superstar” portrays Jesus as more human than a God. Although it is true that in Christianity Jesus is both human and divine, I personally think that representing Him in a more flawed light is not necessarily wrong.

After all, Jesus did suffer just like we all do. He felt love, He felt pain, He got mad sometimes, He got confused and He even questioned God about why he had been abandoned. If anything, the show demonstrates a side of Jesus that we don’t think too much about. And it helped me understand His journey a lot more.

But what is a great plot without the best possible cast to give life to your characters? And I must say, the decision in bringing Legend to play Jesus was the right one. His voice was perfect for the part, and from the very beginning, the audience was able to feel his emotions.

Bareilles did a great job as well. She is now a Broadway veteran after starring for months in “Waitress,” and it was clear that she felt comfortable being on stage and performing live.

Although Jesus and Mary are the biggest names in the production, it was Judas, played by Brandon Dixon, who stole the scene. Telling the story through his character’s point of view, Dixon brought his strong vocals to the first and the last songs of the show. He hit the high notes with perfection while also dancing and moving along the stage. The New York Times called the choice of Dixon for Judas “appropriate,” considering “that this production was dominated by a Broadway veteran best known for replacing Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr in the Tony-winning smash ‘Hamilton.’”

It was a pity that his talent was overshadowed by the problems with sound.

Since “Jesus Christ Superstar” is a rock opera, NBC had a rock band in the background playing the music. Things got confusing at first because the sound coming from the instruments was much louder than the singers, including the ensemble. As the show went on, it was easier to understand what they sang, but my friend and I still had to put subtitles to follow the story.

I have watched other live shows that NBC has made and none of them seemed to have the same issue.

Overall, the musical was successful and pleasing. The crucifixion scene was the most powerful and emotional moment for me personally. When John Legend was placed on a cross and pulled up, I confess I started crying. The rock band gave place to a more classical soundtrack and the stage was covered by darkness. There was a light coming from the back in the cross-shaped wall as Legend slowly disappeared behind it.

I believe the show achieved its goal in being both what is expected from television channels during Easter Day, but it was also inclusive to people who don’t consider themselves religious. And I think that the main message is sticking to your beliefs and to what you love. Fight until the end and you will be rewarded.

And for those of us who believe in God and His story, it is just another reminder that we are not alone.