Ted Neeley, who plays Jesus in the international tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, claims the rock opera has "brought more people to Christianity than any other concept because it takes Jesus off the stained glass window and puts him on the street where people walk."
Audience members validate Neeley's theory. After each performance, fans by the dozen come backstage to meet the actor and share personal stories about how his performance brought them to Christianity. Many of Neeley's fans saw him play Jesus in the film version of the rock opera when it was released in 1973. "A lot of people then were preteens, and apparently it helped them to achieve an epiphany that has stuck with them through their entire lives." says Neeley.
The actor treats these interactions with discretion. Neeley doesn't share the stories people tell him. "It's kind of personal, you know. It's almost like they're confessing things to me. "You're the reason that I became a Christian. Seeing you in this movie changed my life, made me look at spirituality in a much deeper fashion.'"
According to Neeley, the visitors are changed by the focus on Christ's humanity, versus a church sermon that focuses on Christ's divinity. Neeley says that in church, a preacher will often tell the story along with his opinion and lose believers.
In contrast, the rock opera introduces audience members to Jesus Christ the rebellious rabbi. Mary Magdalene, Pontius Pilate, the disciples, high priests and many other high-profile figures tell the story of the last seven days of Jesus' life. These are the days in which Jesus enters Jerusalem, preaches and causes civil disobedience, gets betrayed by Judas, is tried by Pontius Pilot and ultimately crucified.
Jesus Christ Superstar
Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.
Tuesday, Feb. 13, and Wednesday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m.