"Gethsemane" — and a 63-year-old Ted Neeley

Yesterday, I posted this clip of “Hosanna” from the 1973 movie version of “Jesus Christ Superstar.”  If that had you feeling nostalgic, you have to check out  the clip below: the star of that movie, Ted Neeley, performing the heart-rending “Gethsemane” over 30 years later, in a “Farewell Tour” of the stage musical.  When I stumbled on this on YouTube, the prospect of watching a 60-something aging rock star perform a role created for someone half his age did not fill my heart with glee.  A geriatric Jesus?  But, to my amazement, I was unexpectedly moved.   The years have given a ragged and weary quality to Neeley’s performance, which only makes the agony even more real.   He’s clearly giving his all — just like the man he’s portraying.  Watch and feel the goosebumps.

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6 responses to “"Gethsemane" — and a 63-year-old Ted Neeley”

  1. Some time back, my parish’s Adult Faith Formation Team created a Lenten series that we sometimes offer to neighboring ones. It is entitled “Jesus . . .according to Hollywood.” In any given session (there are five in all) we have someone in the audience read a passages from one of the Gospels then we show a film-clip describing Hollywood interpretation of that passage. For instance
    –The scene at Bethlehem taken from the opening credits of “Ben Hur.”
    –The young lad Yeshua growing up from “Jesus of Nazareth.”
    –The three temptations from “Last Temptation of Christ.”
    –The death of the Baptist from “Jesus of Nazareth.”
    –The Last Supper from “King of Kings”
    –The garden scenes (Including “Mary’s Song”) from “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
    –The three trial scenes from “The Passion of the Christ”

    Yes, we do point out the good, the bad and the ugly in all those clips. The program, however, is generally received well because it places the text in a living situation.

  2. I grew up with this musical and somehow, it has sown some seeds in my vocation as a priest, believing that in my culture, [good] theater is considered to be a powerful tool for evangelization. Thank you for posting this clip. Surely, it gave me chills, not only because of nostalgia, but it actually pierced me to the bones of the anguish, agony, doubts, dilemna and finally, the courageous decision of Christ to die for he is madly in love with me. It brought me to tears … to silence … to prayer.

  3. Deacon Greg, thanks for posting the link to Ted Neely singing Gethsemane at age 63. I just saw JCS on TV over the Easter weekend, and I was surprised how well it has aged. But this current video is wonderful. I probably wouldn’t have come across it on my own–thanks very much.

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