From Leap of Faith to Jesus Christ Superstar, Religion, Faith and Musicals Are a Smashing Mix

By Jared Eberlein
08 Apr 2012

Josh Young and Paul Nolan in Jesus Christ Superstar (2012).
photo by Joan Marcus

Composers and lyricists work tirelessly to carve out their own unique perspective on every story they might adapt. This task, however, becomes especially challenging when taking on such cherished texts as those found in the Bible. Often, the best way into a story is through the eyes of an unlikely character, not typically thought of as deserving our attention. Judas Iscariot is one such character.

Tim Rice reminds us that "Superstar, for all its faults and naiveté, is really trying to tell a story of how somebody such as Judas Iscariot, or even Pontius Pilate would've reacted to somebody saying he was God — or at least having other people claim he was God." He continues, "I certainly would identify more with Judas than with Jesus. It's easier and more natural to identify with a character that is flawed than a character that is perfect. I enjoy writing about these imperfect people because it seems to me that I'm quite like them."

Slater also shares a fascination for the unsung character, Biblical or otherwise, "I love the challenge of trying to immerse myself in my character's beliefs, to non-judgmentally approach the topic of faith through their eyes, and to try to honestly capture how I think they would react to things that challenge their world-views."

"Religion," Tim Rice says, seeks to answer the question, "Why are we all here?"

The same can be said of theatre, musical or otherwise.


Read the 2011 interview with The Book of Mormon's co-songwriter and co-librettist Robert Lopez, who speaks about the need for faith and religion. 

Let us know your favorite religion- or faith-inspired musical on