A "Heroic" Night
- Monday, November 24, 2003
!Hero, a Christian rock opera depicting the gospel story in a contemporary setting, wrapped up its fall tour last night in San Antonio. By the numbers, the tour was a smashing success, selling out most of its 21 dates—likely setting up a spring leg of the tour. The energetic 2½-hour show starred Michael Tait (dc talk, Tait) in the lead role of Hero, a modern-day Jesus; Rebecca St. James in the role of Maggie, a modern-day Mary Magdalene; and Audio Adrenaline frontman Mark Stuart in the role of Petrov, a modern-day Peter. The supporting cast included the talents of T-Bone, Paul Wright, Donnie (formerly of Raze), Tait's personal band, and others, plus a fine ensemble of dancers/back-up singers. The story was written by Christian rock vets Eddie DeGarmo and Bob Farrell. A double-disc CD was released in September, accompanied by a series of book and comic books. (For more info, go to www.herouniverse.com.)
Christian Music Today sent a team of four to one of !Hero's final shows. Here's what each of us thought of that particular performance:
Andy Argyrakis, Freelance writer and critic,Christian Music Today
Thanks to a musically proficient cast whose acting debuts were quite solid overall, the first leg of the !Hero tour accurately conveyed the gospel message it set out to proclaim. Much of the evening's strengths were in the storyline's adaptation to contemporary contexts, such as the rap/rock/pop combination of music, the Last Supper's humorous yet tasteful transformation into a barbeque, and Jesus' death on a New York City street sign. The intent was to approach Christ's passion, death, and resurrection in a seeker friendly/MTV-styled approach. Thanks to street-savvy lyrics, costumes, set design, and production, the show seemed to live up to those goals. Add well-planned and implemented interaction by lead personalities Tait, St. James, and Stuart, and the event not only resulted in an enjoyable, faith-enriching night for Christians, but also a relevant platform for seeds to be sown among the seeking population.
Todd Hertz, Associate Editor,Campus Lifemagazine
I thought of !Hero more as a rock concert with a theme than a traditional musical. As such, it rocks. It's a fun, engrossing blend of multimedia and stage show. The stars do less acting than in-character performances of hard-rock and hip/hop songs that take us through Jesus' ministry and crucifixion. Tait, St. James, and Stuart interact with the audience, bringing energetic passion to their message. It's an explosive and fun MTV revisit of the gospel story. Unfortunately, the storytelling is more conceptual and abstract than a clearly-plotted out drama. Someone unfamiliar with the Gospels may not be able to follow along or understand what's so great about this Hero. Thus, the show may not successfully reach the unchurched. But as evidenced by the crowd, it is a well-received and thrilling retake on the passion play for Christians and especially youth groups. At times, !Hero felt like a first-run show trying to find its legs. Hopefully, it will continue and improve on these rough spots, because the show is striking and fun.
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