Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

Ted Neeley, the former rock drummer who played the title superstar in the movie “Jesus Christ Superstar,” is still on the road, playing Jesus in the original stage musical. In an interview with The Dialog, the Catholic diocesan paper of Wilmington, Del., Neeley, now 65, remembers the night the show opened in 1971, when protestors lined Broadway and New Yorkers “thought we were going to destroy the culture there.”

“Superstar” was the first work to suggest–however quaintly it may seem to our post-“DaVinci Code” sensibilities–a physical relationship between Mary Magdalene and her rabbi. Neeley points out that the musical, despite its famous number, sung by Magdalene, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” never makes that claim. Instead, he says, the true cultural legacy of the show is that it has become “a blueprint for teaching the religious ethic of Christ.”

Neeley’s own legacy may be that we now know what it would have been like had Jesus stuck around long enough to appear on the “Tonight” show:

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