Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jesus Christ Superstar

The correct order of songs (regardless of what Messrs. Webber and Rice might say):

Act One

1. Overture
2. Pilate's Dream
3. I Don't Know How to Love Him
4. What's the Buzz
5. Strange Thing Mystifying
6. Everything's Alright
7. Heaven On Their Minds
8. Then We Are Decided
9. Simon Zealotes
10. Poor Jerusalem
11. Hosanna
12. The Temple
13. This Jesus Must Die
14. Damned for All Time

Act Two

1. The Last Supper
2. Gethsemane
3. The Arrest
4. Peter's Denial
5. Pilate and Christ
6. King Herod's Song
7. Could We Start Again Please
8. Judas's Death
9. Trial Before Pilate
10. The Crucifixion
11. John Nineteen Forty-one
12. Superstar

There. Now you know.

Update: Actually, I figured I may as well show my workings, so to speak. So...

Pilate's Dream is a prefiguration, so a blindingly obvious prologue. It also makes structural sense to put this at the start to play off against his role at the end, to create a bookended architecture. And on top of that, it conjures Jesus as mystery, rumour, legend--prepares a path, you might say.

But rather than cutting to JC himself after this, we get a second level of intro. Enter Mary alone, to conjure JC by his effect on her, to conjure the impact wave, the ramifications reaching out beyond him. Rather than the big showy crowdpleaser of "Heaven on Their Minds," we're opening low-key, building to his entry...

... which comes with all the hurly burly of "What's The Buzz," JC entering with his mob of disciples and followers, trying to preach a message that's being lost in their zeal. Mary's role is established ("cool down your face,") with Judas's role next, as in the original, with "Strange Thing Mystifying."

Dropping "Then We Are Decided" to later allows the conflict between Mary and Judas over JC here to play out fully, with "Everything's Alright" bringing it to a head, resolving with Mary winning the field and Judas losing.

"Heaven on Their Minds" then becomes a logical reaction to JC's dismissal of the poor and his grandiose "you'll be sorry when I'm gone" in the previous song. And sitting at the mid-point of Part One it gives a big narrative beat, a key turning point. In a classic Three Act Structure--Acts 1, 2a, 2b, 3--this is actually the end of Act One.

"Then We Are Decided" picks up on exactly the threat Judas fears in the opening to an Act 2a then, and switches the scene to Jerusalem. Me, I'd stage this as a (pre?)dawn meeting on the city walls, looking out toward Bethany. The trumpets that start "Simon Zealotes" play to that, setting this as the rousing of JC and co, their preparations for the entry in Jerusalem, the journey from Bethany, the crowds lining the road. Have them casting their clothes on the ground before him, and we're building to the triumphal entry here.

"Poor Jerusalem" now sits in the right place in the actual gospel narrative, JC pausing as Jerusalem comes in sight to lament, before entering to the great hullaballoo of "Hosanna," and heading straight to "The Temple," the uproar of which naturally leads to "This Jesus Must Die." And of course Judas's betrayal in "Damned for All Time," the big narrative beat ending Part One in the original and here too, as the mid-point of the whole show, the end of Act 2a.

As for Part 2, Acts 2a and 3, they're basically ordered fine. No change there, except for putting "Superstar" right at the end as an epilogue, because duh. Why on earth you'd have this before "The Crucifixion" and "John Nineteen Forty-one" I have no idea.

So, yeah, an explanation for you. It's all quite simple really.

Update 2: No, wait! Actually, I think Part 2 could use a bit of shuffling too:

1. The Last Supper
2. Gethsemane
3. The Arrest
4. Pilate and Christ5. King Herod's Song
6. Could We Start Again Please
7. Peter's Denial
8. Trial Before Pilate9. Judas's Death
10. The Crucifixion
11. John Nineteen Forty-one
12. Superstar

Because "Take him to Pilate! Take him to Pilate!" rather cues up the first confrontation between Pilate and JC. "Peter's Denial" meanwhile could easily be segued into from "Could We Start Again Please," with the first as JC is being brought back into Pilate's court, the latter after he's disappeared inside.

And because "Judas's Death" makes more sense as a reaction to the scourging, and bringing it in between JC's sentencing and crucifixion draws out the parallel of the two deaths.

OK, now we're done.

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