Could Jesus be a hit?

What many Christians might have wished to see in Jesus Christ Superstar they can get in Rabboni. With a distinctively Jewish flavor, Rabboni (pronounced Ra-BONE-ee) is an off-Broadway musical that is both an artistic and an evangelistic endeavor. The show was originally a California community theater ministry, but its creator, Jeremiah Ginsberg—a converted Jew and former entertainment lawyer—felt God calling him to take it to New York.

Rabboni came close to opening on Broadway, but financial frustrations interfered. The play finally found sufficient backing to open at the Perry Street Theater in Greenwich Village last June.

Ginsberg’s deep commitment to the artistic integrity of his music convinces him that he would feel he had failed had he not staged the musical with the best actors and talent available (the cast is made up largely of non-Christians), so he took the necessary steps to “get it on the stage in the purest, most artistically successful form possible.”

He seems to have succeeded. New York Times reviewer Richard F. Shepard called the 15-member cast engaging, enthusiastic, and buoyant, and said Rabboni “makes its pitch entertainingly, with an ebullient joy.”

Jewish Flavor

Rabboni stresses the Jewish environment of early Christianity, so the gospel presentation has a familiar feel to the large number of Jewish people in the audience—estimated to be about half. The melodies, humor, dance, and dialect all combine artfully to capture the flavor and ethnicity of Jewish life. Jesus’ mother, for example, whines a little in order to elicit from him a compliment on her cooking. And the wedding at Cana is everything one would expect at a Jewish wedding—including a dispute with the caterer.

A show highlight ...

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