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Broadway meets rock with black Jesus

Nov. 7, 2006

Courtesy photo
Michael Tait stars in !Hero, a modern tale of the life of Jesus Christ. One of the modern takes is how Jesus was crucified. Instead of being hung on a cross he is displayed on a New York City street sign.Baylor is the cast's first stop on its 2006 tour. The play begins at 7 p.m. today in Waco Hall.


What would it look like if Jesus were crucified today?

The rock opera !Hero shows Jesus as a black youth with a head full of dreadlocks born in Bethlehem, Pa.

Michael Tait, a member of the former Christian band DC Talk, plays Jesus in the show and said it will be eye-opening for a lot of people to see Jesus as an African-American.

"When people usually think of Jesus, they imagine the blue-eyed and blond-hair version," Tait said. "It may be jarring for many people to see a black Jesus."

!Hero kicks off its 2006 tour with one showing at 7 p.m. today in Waco Hall.

When he read the script, Tait said he knew it was going to raise eyebrows.

"This is a new way to imagine the gospels, but the show is a faithful representation about a real man who lived and died," he said.

Tait said he hopes the show will add new dimensions to the way people think of the gospels.

"A lot of people don't realize that Jesus was actually presented almost as a terrorist in his time," Tait said. "He was the ultimate outsider."

When Jesus is crucified, there is no wooden cross. Instead, he is haphazardly strung up on a street sign in New York City, and Judas dies by shooting himself in the head with a .45-caliber pistol.

Tait said the crucifixion is one of his favorite parts of the show.

"When Jesus is crucified, it's a really intense scene because it's very realistic and moving," he said. "I think people will really respond to it."

Tait said he found that playing the role of Jesus was a humbling experience.

"It is the ultimate part to play, and it really made me take a look inwards at myself and many situations in my life," he said.

Carol Anderson, the play's tour publicist, said one of the best things about the show is the music.

"The show is set to all original music and blends hip-hop, pop and rock music to bring the gospel a new generation," Anderson said.

Tait said the musical score is what will help keep young people engaged in the play.

"This is MTV meets a blend of Broadway and a rock concert," he said.

Heather Hampton, a Columbia, Mo., senior, said she is excited to see the show.

"I can't wait to see it," Hampton said. "It's edgy and has a new take on a story that everyone knows."

Tait said he encourages everyone to come out and see the play.

"Even if you have heard the gospel and are a believer, seeing it come to life in terms we can all understand is amazing," Tait said. "It will blow your mind."

Tickets cost $18 and can be purchased at