This post is in the theme “Constructing an identity through media”. Read the first.
September 1, New York: Coming out of middle school I was a wrestler. I know, strange. I’d been casting about for hobbies and sure enough, going into freshman year of high school I was on the Wrestling team. Squad? I was terrible. I had no upper body strength, was dreadfully bored by exercise, and was heavy enough to be in a weight class with 5’9″ dudes that were 100% muscle. I won zero matches.
Come sophomore year I found my salvation: theater. Oh yes, it was obvious. Loud, obnoxious, perpetually on stage: I was a theater kid in the biggest possible way before I even learned what the word “thespian” meant. My high school had a small and underfunded theater program and I quickly trod the boards to lead roles. I loved theater. It gave me community. It gave me identity. It gave me a way to release the wild, pent-up emotion of teenaged angst. When my Dad passed away, half of my therapy was going too deeply into every single character I played and yelling, stomping, screaming my way through every performance. Theater turned out to also be a wonderful way to meet the ladies.
Jesus Christ Superstar was my favorite musical. I listened to my two-disc edition of the London Cast Recording until the laser in compact disc player nearly wore a hole through the plastic. I would have loved to have performed it, but I was forever stunted in my ambition because my voice, while great for a scream, was terrible for a song. Had my high school had the resources to produce a musical (we didn’t) I never could have been cast in any lead roles. (In Superstar I maybe could have eked out a Caiaphas.) As it was, we stuck to Neil Simon and I was a big fish in a little pond and things worked out great.
But, oh I loved to sing along to Jesus Christ Superstar, lack of talent be damned. This is another one of those albums from which I know every lyric. In fact, I know this album so completely, that the time I finally did well on the SAT, I spent the entire test singing this musical to myself front to back accompanied only by two bottles of Jolt Cola and a #2 pencil.
From the movie, not really my jam. But I do love this song.
I loved, loved being on stage but theater never felt like a calling. I wanted to create worlds, to write the stories. I acted here and there in college, but eventually moved completely on. And around the same time, grew a distaste for the artifice of musicals. But man, with the headphones on? Turns out I do still love to sing along to this album.
Sure, it’s a musical, but just imagine you bought this album so you could get out of reading the New Testament. It’s like a funky Cliffs Notes.