A "Heroic" Night
- Monday, November 24, 2003
Russ Breimeier, Director and Chief Music Critic,Christian Music Today
As the "theater buff" of our group, I'm forced to give !Hero a mixed review. It needs tweaking, as evidenced by some awkward transitions between scenes and stilted dialogue between songs. Though Tait's band supports the actors instrumentally, much of the music relies on backing tracks from the original concept album. This helps the vocals rise above the music for clarity's sake, but seems awkward when many of the supporting players are clearly lip-synching. Perhaps most problematic is that !Hero seems too conceptual for most non-Christians to appreciate—I'd argue that the theologically-challenged Jesus Christ Superstar better illustrates our Savior's suffering and Godspell his teachings. Nonetheless, the concept is sound and it's generally enjoyable. The "book" may be rough, but the execution is still fun. Tait gives an especially affecting vocal performance and St. James lights up the stage during her numbers. The songs come across more energetic and memorable live than on CD. You'll enjoy !Hero most if you think of it less as first-rate theater, and more a family-friendly thematic concert experience.
Mark Moring, Editor-at-Large, Christianity Today International
I give !Hero two thumbs up (I've got two hands, so why not?). The music was appealing and well-performed, with few exceptions. I tapped my foot the whole time, and sometimes caught myself head-banging. Tait, St. James and Stuart were stellar—both musically and dramatically. Extra props to Donnie for her stirring performance as Mama Mary and Jairus' wife. Visually, !Hero was a treat—from the costumes to the set design to the dancing to the background video montage. Conceptually, it's also a winner—the old, old story made brand new. Still, at times the story was muddy. Those unfamiliar with the Gospels might not "get" every scene; even "veteran" Christians were confused by some story elements. A printed program—like a playbill distributed free at theatre productions-would have helped immensely; alas, none was handed out. Something similar, however, was for sale. (Note to organizers: Give out free programs next time around.) But those are minor quibbles. Overall, it was a marvelous production, and I'd recommend it to anyone.
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