Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Megachurch Musical | Slog | The Stranger:

Last weekend, 1,500 people flocked to Cedar Park to watch Generations, an original musical by Daniel Perrin, an evangelical pastor and doctor of worship studies (directed by Karen Lund of Taproot Theatre). Perrin spent 19 years writing his magnum opus, taking two research trips to Israel and one to Poland. The conceit of Generations: Jesus comes back to Nazi-occupied Warsaw to save the Jews. (Their souls, anyway—He did not offer to save their bodies.)

The result of Dr. Perrin's labors is a work of deep conviction and deep befuddlement—bombastic, evangelical dreckcellence. The music, played by a capable 22-member orchestra, sounds like Andrew Lloyd Webber and Meat Loaf spiked with klezmer and squeezed through a fine mesh of Christian pop. The plot scans like a three-way between Godspell, Cabaret, and a performance of Life of Brian by people who don't realize it's a joke.

The plot is confusing, to put it charitably: Jesus is a friendly local rabbi who lightly aids the folks behind the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In act two, the characters jump back in time to first-century Galilee for a scrambled tour of the Gospel's greatest hits. Flash-forward back to Warsaw, where the Nazis shoot Jesus. (Overheard in the pews: "Don't worry, He'll be back.") Jesus resurrects Himself and tells the lead Warsaw character: "Without God, all you have is a ghetto." The Jew converts, the music soars, and the woman behind me mutters: "Yes, Jesus! Awesome!" Generations seems to argue that the Holocaust was primarily a convenient time for Jews to find Jesus. (Because when isn't?)