Monday, October 30, 2006

Ted Neeley and Buddy Jesus: Separated at birth?

Perhaps they could get someone slightly younger to play the title role in Jesus Christ Superstar. Ted Neeley has been playing Jesus for 35 years (Dialogue article, caution .pdf, News Journal article), longer than the real Jesus had been alive. It showed in his awful, vacant performance at the Dupont Theatre on Friday. We walked out at intermission, so maybe I am not qualified to give a full review. Jesus was looking a little long in the tooth, but perhaps we Wilmingtonians are so starved for a brush with celebrity that the audience gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Ted Neeley was in the film version in 1973 and is 63 now. He was better (and younger, and had more hair) in the movie. Friday's performance was empty and cartoonish, with much outstretched hands and mumbled blessings, I expected him to do the "beauty pageant screwing in a lightbulb" wave at any moment. His resemblance to Buddy Jesus from the movie Dogma was eerie. Worse, the microphone or whatever stuck to his forehead was very prominent and distracting.

The rest of the cast would have been worth staying to watch but Neeley was too painful to sit through. Corey Glover of Living Colour fame was a fantastic Judas, using his signature "Cult of Personality" voice to match the intensity of the music and lyrics. The ensemble had strong voices, meeting the almost unnatural dynamic range required for some of the smaller male parts, the priests in particular.

All in all I am sorry I got suckered into getting these extra tickets; they were not part of the regular subscription series. Our little DuPont Theatre is admirable in its attempt to bring a piece of Broadway south to Wilmington, but sometimes the most the performances have going for them is it only takes me ten minutes to get downtown to see them.

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36 comments:

Anonymous said...

I saw the show lasat night in Georgia and, bless his heart, Ted Neeley is a little old for the part. It is amazing that he's still doing it, but it seemed a little surreal to say the least. We were in the balcony and the top of the poor man's head was really showing through, and it looked like there was some grey around his temples -- its so hard to cover grey. Anyway, if you've ever wanted to hear Joe Cocker do JCS, this may be as close as you are going to get. The rest of the cast was amazing and it's always a good play, so I think you should have stayed for it -- the ascension scene was worth the money!

Anonymous said...

well, everyone is entitled to their opinion. i personally feel people are going to see Ted Neeley- not to have a complete suspension of disbelief to really pretend you are seeing Jesus in Biblical Jerusalem, as it seems the author of this blog is. Ted was great at the Dupont Theatre, and the novelty is seeing him on his FAREWELL TOUR. The fact that this guy thinks the bland, horrid, tepid voices of the priests- who were theatre major/robert goulet sounding types- says something about his judgement. Maybe I'll see you around Wilmington. And knock your teeth out.

Anonymous said...

One other thing. The tour is being billed as "The Farewell Tour", but if you talk to Ted, he'll say he missed that memo. As long as people want to come see the show, he says he'll keep doing it. I, for one, am GLAD. I've seen other JC's and Ted is the ONLY actor who has the heart of this role down. It's not superficial, or phoned-in for him, he pours everything into it night after night. I would like to see any other actor CLOSE to his age do even REMOTELY as well with a performance. He's incredulous. And we're lucky he's out there doing this again!

TaiwanMommy said...

Ted Neely is fantastic. And the preists were even better. Too bad some people are caught up in age/race/gender whatever to see real talent. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

I saw Ted Neely in Jesus Christ Superstar Sunday night...

He's taking a break and probably going right back to it after the first of next year. I say as long as he can still hit the high *G* bring it on!

jake said...

does anyone know where i can find this video:
ted neeley 1997 gethsemane ad tour concert?
i watched it on youtube and it's not there.
so can anyone upload it on sites like
1. youtube.com
2. video.google.com
those 2 sites please? thanks!
jake

LazarusFloo said...

jake'
i'm not on youtube anymore! they kicked me out of
that site!

jake said...

THEN JOIN YOUTUBE AND CREATE YOUR ACCOUNT AGAIN!

LazarusFloo said...

how?

jake said...

JUST TYPE YOUTUBE.COM AND WATCH A VIDEO
AND CLICK THE WORD:JOIN YOUTUBE!
MAN' ARE YOU NOT SMART ON THAT!

lazarusFloo said...

JAKE THEY KICKED ME OUT!

jake said...

JUST JOIN YOUTUBE AGAIN YOU PIZZAMAN!

LazarusFloo said...

I DON'T DELIVER PIZZA!

Jake said...

YEAH YOU DO!

LazarusFloo said...

WHAT AM I?
LAZARUS THE PIZZAMAN!

Jake said...

YEAH!

homer simpson said...

what movie is this?

jake said...

IT'S JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR YOU BUMMO!

joe cocker said...

all of you should see this this year from
december 19th thru december 30th 2007

Matthew Dessem said...

BEST MUSICAL EVER!

Jake said...

lazarusfloo. i hope i hav'nt seent you the past few months. UPLOAD THAT TED NEELEY VID NOW!!!

lazarusfloo said...

THEY KICKED ME OUT JAKE!!!

Jake said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lazarusfloo said...

U DON'T KNOW WHERE I LIVE!!

Jake said...

Uh,Yes I DO!!

jake said...

Dear LAZARUSFLOO,
The 1997 Ted Neeley clip has been posted again.
Ya know, I think a friend of yours, Dr Web Flax Floo
added it to his favorites. See for yourself.

Anonymous said...

I took my sister and daughter to see his JCS at the Performing Arts Center 6/29/08. I saw JCS in England in 1973, however I feel as if I've just seen it for the first time because of Ted Neeley. His performance MADE the play. Bravo! Personally, I could listen and watch him perform again and again. God Bless you Ted Neeley. Rae

jake said...

if you took ur sister and daughter in june 19th, england back in 1973 DID NOT PROGRAM JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR IN ENGLAND!! IT WAS PROGRAMMED FROM 1993-1998!!!

Anonymous said...

good scene in toy story, but the rip is absolutely horrible!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
glawdy said...

I DONT WANT TO TAKE ANY CHANCES 'CAUSE I LOVE MY MOM!!! I JUST HAD THE DREAM OF BUZZ LIGHTYEAR'S ARM BEIN' BLOWN UP LIKE A WANKER!!!
THAT DREAM ENDED TOO SOON FOR ME!!! THE SONG
IN TOY STORY, "I WILL GO SAILING NO MORE" WAS IN NORWEGIAN AND PORTUGUESE IN 1995!!!
THOSE LANGUAGES MADE ME DAZZED, AND I LAUGHED ABOUT IT IN MY HEAD ALL NIGHT!!!
BUZZ LIGHTYEAR IS A TOY AND NOT A SPACE RANGER!!! WHAT A BABY!!!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
timeless said...

I'd like to know how this got got from being about JCS to you idiots name calling on each other?

This is September of 08 and I am buying tickets now for JCS in March of 09 BECAUSE of Ted Neely.

Talent is not limited to the young.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I think people still watch JCS on stage because of Ted Neeley. He is a legend now no matter how old he is.

Lims said...

well, I just watched him in 2014 in Milan, and I loved what I saw and heard, so go figure, he can still do it, he still has it.