Geriatric Superstar

Jesus Christ, Superstar starring Ted Neeley

So here I am, sitting on my couch, watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy on TNT (there’s a great way to lose a weekend, by the way), when I see an ad for a production of Jesus Christ, Superstar coming to the Warner Theater March 17-22. Having been a fan of this particular show since I was a kid (and it’s a popular choice for musical companies during Lent), I stopped to take notice… and saw that Ted Neeley is playing Jesus.

Okay, what the hell. Ted Neeley is the best-known Superstar Jesus. He played Jesus in the movie in his 20s, played him on Broadway, played him in the touring production for the movie’s 20th anniversary in the 90s, but people: Ted Neeley is 65 years old. For the record, that’s nearly twice as old as Jesus of Nazareth ever lived to be. I caught a performance on that tour in the 90s- he was sounding a little rough then, and that was 15 years ago. And look, no disrespect to Neeley- the lead roles in Superstar are vocally challenging even to performers in their prime. There’s a lot of high-pitched shrieking to be done, and it’s a strain.

Is there really no one else who can believably play this role that we’ve got to trot out a guy who is nearly as old as my grandfather to play someone about my age? Are audiences really so unwilling to see other people playing Jesus?

Tiffany Baxendell Bridge is an Internet enthusiast and an incurable smartass. When not heckling the neighborhood political scene on Twitter, she can be found goofing off with her ukulele, Bollywood dancing, or obsessing about cult TV. She is That Woman With the Baby In the Bar.

Tiffany lives in Brookland with her husband Tom, son Charlie, and two high-maintenance cats. Read why Tiffany loves DC.

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106 thoughts on “Geriatric Superstar

  1. As I read the posts I’m torn between laughing and crying. All Tiffany did was say she saw an ad, commented that Ted was ‘geriatric’ and wondered why he was still playing the part. Even as a former ‘Ted Head’ I have to admit…Ted IS old. Even TED knows he is old, at least he did the last time I spoke to him. The more you guys argue how he ‘has to’ play Jesus, the less believable it seems to be. Ted is an ACTOR, period end of story. He is not acting on behalf of God, again at least he wasn’t as of the last time we spoke. Granted that was ages ago and he may have changed his mind since then. I will agree that Ted is, in MY mind anyway, still awesome in the ‘part’ of Jesus. However, it scares me when I see him being portrayed as more than he is. He used to teasingly sing, “I’m a man…I’m just a man…” did that change somehow? When I was a Ted Head, and yes, I was considered pretty much ‘queen’ of them, at least on the internet… Ted was just … Ted. Okay, maybe I lusted after him a bit back then (in my heart of course and maybe a little more than ‘a bit’, and enjoyed the wicked twinkle in his eyes when flirting, and just being around him made my head spin, but I knew as did all my other TedHead friends, that Ted was playing a role. One he is very, very good at. I met Ted when I was going through some major issues in my life and he was very sweet to me. And the fact that I had been carrying a crush of enormous proportions since first seeing the movie at age of 18, getting to meet and talk to him was … OMG!!! He is charming and charismatic and no one can take that away from him. He knows what to say and has such a great memory of people it’s hard not to feel special. So,as I said in an earlier post, wouldn’t it be better just to agree to disagree? Some like Ted as Jesus, some don’t…some people say tomAto..some say tomato… Sometimes you feel like a nut..sometimes you don’t…Please though, for the sake of every fan of Ted, or used to be fans, stop trying to make him into something he is not. In my opinion, it does make us all look like religious nuts. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but if I’m going to be thought of as crazy, I’d rather it be by my own actions/words and not for having been a fan of a great play.

  2. I want to meet the Transylvanian Wolf Boy. Tiffany, do you have an email address by chance? I hear he’s quite the dinner date — always goes out for steak.

  3. Hi Dee, sounds like you may be the only one who has posted here who has seen a glimpse of the REAL Ted. It sounds like at one time you two were really close. Thank you for posting and letting everyone here know that not all his fans are so caught up in what they WANT him to be that they fail to see what and who he is really is, just a man, an actor, doing what he is getting paid to do. Maybe all his zealots will take your word for it, then maybe not.
    And it’s nice to know that he himself is aware of his short comings, but he really needs to be just more of himself when meeting with people, step out of the role and be real. The REAL Ted sounds pretty cool.

  4. The Real Ted IS cool. I’ve only known him a few years. I am not caught up in what I want him to be and he will be the first to tell you that he is playing a role. What I have enjoyed about him is his kindness. I have never met anyone in theater quite like him. I love this show. I’ve seen others play the part very well. There is just something about Ted that when he acts this role he transforms it and the music and his voice can just carry you away. Part of it is nostalgia. But mostly he knows how to put a song across and connect with the audience on a level not often seen. For me anyway…

  5. Have you even seen the show? Another mindless, irrelevant blogger. Is this YOUR big accomplishment?

  6. Hi Tiffany — I just happened to come onto your
    website, and sorry to see it has become a war of
    words just like the other ones some of these people write on, including, NOTR, Ted’s how site-
    I just wanted to say everyone sees things their own way when seeing a play, etc. – as for
    Jesus Christ, Superstar, – Ted was in his late 20′s when on Broadway, but was 30 or 31 when he did the movie — I have known Ted for almost 35 years and we are just 10 months different in age (he’s older! HA!)
    I, too, have seen JCS done with several different
    actors playing Jesus, and I feel Ted protrays the
    way I grew up knowing my teachings of Jesus the best, but that is jmo —
    Will continue to read your site — interesting!