I have not visited New York City since November 2020. With the relief of Joe Biden at my back, I bided my time. Hibernated. Incubated. Hoping for a rebirth of . . .well . . .hope!
What has changed? The malignant orange cancer is out, but not without some horror-show nail-biting that lasted through January 6. The trail of slime remains, festering. Or— maybe—drying up. Wouldn’t that be nice, but I’m not holding my breath.
Here we are, pandemic still lapping around our ankles as we try to move forward. This Easter weekend I will spend at home working on my projects, and watching the version of Jesus Christ Superstar that I discovered last year streaming on YouTube (part of Broadway’s The Shows Must Go On). I had hoped that it would be a filmed version of the original that I saw in 1971, but was shaken out of my nostalgic disappointment when I realized that Tim Minchin was a true dynamo in the role of Judas. I had never heard of him, and he became my first Covid silver lining.
The first play I remember sneaking into was Jesus Christ Superstar. I already knew the lengthy 1970 Webber-Rice soundtrack by heart, had blasted it on our family’s stereo console, mincing along with King Herod:
So you are the Christ, you’re the great Jesus Christ?
Let me know that you’re no fool
Walk across my swimming pool
Here it was on stage in full, bizarre, glam rock excess, putting in the limelight my crush dilemma from the past. In one corner, Jesus Christ, representing the highly desirable and parentally-approved high school jocks. In the other, Judas Iscariot, pinch-hitting for all the doubters, the questioners, the misunderstood (and, of course, sexy) James Deans.
At the crowded stage door, I waited for Jesus. I was careful not to clutch too tightly and bend that week’s Time magazine, its cover featuring this golden creature I was about to ask for an autograph. More nervous anticipating a Broadway stage actor than I would have been with a true messiah, I threaded after Jesus into a nearby bar.
Timidly approaching him, I asked, “Would you mind signing this?”
“Be Sweet,” the actor Jeff Fenholt wrote on his visage with my Flair pen. Thus blessed, I headed back to the Y, leaving him on his barstool with whatever libations liberated him from the shackles of being the Son of God.— Hell’s Kitchen and Couture Dreams
copyright Sharon Watts
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