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Ecumenical Easter Sunday, with Norman Jewison

April 11, 2009

Though I culturally identify myself as Jewish, I’m not a believer in any religion. I nevertheless still feel the need get spiritual sometimes at this time of year, if only in a musical theater-adapted to film sort of a way.

This time, I’ll give you a couple of clips from the two musicals directed by Norman Jewison, who, famously, was not Jewish but was nevertheless, I imagine, forced to think about such matters because of his name. Jewison was not a great director of musicals, but he was a wonderful director of straightforward drama like In the Heat of the Night and had style to spare, particularly in The Thomas Crown Affair. That was close to being enough in his two back to back seventies musical translation of theatrical superhits, particularly when he had great music by Jerry Bock and lyrics by Sheldon Harnick behind him.

I’m no fan of Andrew Lloyd Weber. On the other hand, as the Lord says in “God’s Comic,” the Elvis Costello song which imagines Yahweh opining on Weber, among other matters, “I preferred the one about my son.” So did I, and this is by far my favorite musical moment from the film, featuring Ted Neeley as the eponymous leading man/diety and Carl Anderson as Judas singing some of the strongest lyrics Tim Rice ever came up with.

Judas in Superstar is a relatively sympathetic character, but when you think about it, Judas might have been world culture’s first purity troll.*

Have a happy whatever, folks.

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* Blogger’s note to those unschooled in the verbiage of political blog commenting. Dkosepedia defines “purity trolls” as:

…trolls from the left. Otherwise known in real life as drama queens. No matter how pure your position is, their position is more pure. No matter how compassionate or informed or skeptical or vigorous your opinion is, theirs is more of it. These trolls are insistent that they are the true spirit of liberalism, and spend their time being quite put out that the rest of us don’t turn over our resources, our audiences, and our respect to them, regardless of how thin their positions may be on the merits…..

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