|Jesus Christ Superstar
By Michael S. Gisondi
One of life’s coincidences struck me while listening to one of my all time favorites – Jesus Christ
Superstar. My older daughter Elizabeth immediately took to “King Herod’s Song”. She would light up
the living room, with her own jitterbug to the New Orleans style taunting of Jesus for miracles by
Herod. Her and I would laugh and shuffle as she would ask me to swing her around, when once it
struck me – this song was also my “first favorite”.
My mind went back to my kitchen table, growing up in the turbulent sixties in a small town in
upstate New York, a product of a very traditional Italian family. As was the times, my father was strict
with a definite sense of right and wrong, my mother the caring and loving one – more open to new
ideas. One day we were sitting at the table when up the drive way came Sister Mary Dennis – in full
Dominican habit, with only her full beaming face shining through.
Many years later, I would understand the significance of Vatican Two. But that day in my kitchen,
the old met the new. Sister Mary Dennis – so full of life and faith, yet in the traditional habit – brought
Jesus Christ Superstar into my teen age life. With my mother’s encouragement and my father’s
resistance, I thanked her and plunged into the fiery changes of my generation.
Now, years later, as my daughter asks questions, I can’t help but reflect back on the significance
of Jesus Christ Superstar. Just as ministry is a calling to speak to each new generation, the genius of
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Timothy Rice brought my faith alive to me. Through the regal, bold
trumpets I could feel the power of Rome. The mischievous flutes made Judas’ plotting come alive. I
am brought to an epiphany as the fully orchestrated crescendo proclaims Jesus as truly a Superstar.
And now, for my daughter too.
My faith has changed over the years, just as my favorite song from JCS has changed. I
remember coming back to church, after having been away during my college years, curiously looking
at the church-goers with “Heaven on Their Minds”. There was the period of faithful morning mass,
when Jesus’ call to “remember me when you eat and drink” became a sacramental musical connection.
Now, midway on life’s journey, trying to raise a family with the pressures of my job and marriage,
wondering if I’m a good parent, with regrets about career decisions – I sometimes question my faith
and God’s place in my life. In attempting to be a Christian among these stresses, I often relate to
Judas’ feelings of loneliness and failure. The acoustic guitar seems like my only friend as I sometimes
admit, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him”.
Looking at Elizabeth, I can see the passion and the fire in her eyes. She, like me, is drawn to
Pilate’s melodic questioning of Jesus … “What is Truth?” As a parent I can see her passion for
causes, as I wonder and worry about what trials of faith lie ahead.
But then the back door opens and in running comes my younger daughter Angela, yelling “play
my song, play my song!” Her eyes beam with love and bring comfort as she requests “Everything’s
Once again, I marvel at the workings of God around me. I marvel of the masterpiece of Jesus
Christ Superstar … once again speaking to me.
|Return To Main Page