Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Godspell vs. Jesus Christ Superstar

We were doing an exercise after church on Sunday--we compared the Garden of Gethsemane stories in each Gospel (of course, in some Gospels, they don't even go to that garden). And our pastor mentioned Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar in the context of each musical being based on a different Gospel.

That made me think of my youth, where our church in Montgomery, Alabama took a group to Atlanta to see Godspell. I was in second grade, and to this day, I remember the dress I wore. I remember my mom saying, "Now this may seem strange at first. Jesus is a clown. They're all clowns."

I thought it was wonderful. I spent the rest of my youth wondering why church couldn't be full of energy and passion, like Godspell was. I learned the soundtrack inside out. To this day, I can still sing the full soundtrack, even without the CD, which rides around with me in the car. It's my favorite Bible-based music. It has done for me what hymns did for earlier generations--it's an easy way to memorize scripture.

Later, I saw the movie version of Jesus Christ Superstar. I was sorely disappointed. I expected a Godspell but got a strange production with tanks and modernism. I was young and didn't approve of injecting 20th century images into the story. Oddly, I didn't have a similar experience when I viewed the movie version of Godspell.

A friend of mine says that they used to classify people based on whether they preferred one show or the other. Unfortunately, she can't remember what the distinction meant.

It seems destined to be one of those quizzes we could all take. Well, it would be, if anyone else was as interested as I am.

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