!HERO is a rock opera modernizing Jesus’s last two years of life, as
described in the Bible. The story takes place in New York City, in
Brooklyn. The world government in this near-future dystopic Earth is
centered under the International Confederation of Nations (ICON). Under
the iron fist of I.C.O.N., nearly all religion in the world has been
wiped out, except for small occult and mystic sects. Only one synagogue
in Brooklyn exists. Currently, New York City is a police-occupied
warzone between ethnic gangs and small, isolated revolutionary groups
fighting I.C.O.N. Of all the ancient world religions, only Judaism
survives and flourishes, at least, as much as it can.
Bethlehem, PA, a child named Jesus, but referred to as HERO, is born and
forced to flee with his family to the small Jewish section of Brooklyn.
Jesus grows up and begins to preach and teach the principles of
Christianity to the people of New York City, teaching people to love
their enemies and care for each other. I.C.O.N. realizes HERO is a
threat, and the Chief of police Devlin (a derivative of the Devil or
Satan), with the help of chief Rabbi Kai (Caiaphas), conspire to end
HERO’s revolutionary teachings.
The Opera is narrated by “Agent
Hunter”, a former I.C.O.N. agent who met HERO and was soon thrown into
prison for joining him against I.C.O.N. The opera also features Petrov
(Peter), Maggie (Mary Magdalene), and Jude (Judas Iscariot) the latter
who conspires with Kai and Devlin to betray HERO. The storyline
progresses through several stories about Jesus’ miracles and sermons,
using references from the Bible’s four gospels, continues through Jesus’
execution, at the hands of I.C.O.N’s angry mob, and eventually ending
with his resurrection (source: wikipedia)
Hero! The Rock Opera is the brainchild of Will Farrell, Eddie DeGarmo, and the prolific Pete Stewart. All three are former giants of the Christian music industry who not only had their own successful music careers, but were also creative powerhouses largely influencing and producing for some of the biggest artists of the day, and the former two were founding creatives of ForeFront Records. (Pete Stewart’s name can be found in the liner notes of albums from Toby Mac, Sanctus Real, 7th Time Down, Casting Crowns, Newsboys, Colton Dixon, Thousand Foot Krutch, and etc. to this day.)
They are the ones who asked the question “what if?”
What if Christ had not come when he did? What if he came to Bethlehem… Pensylvania? (it takes a lot of historical liberties, we ignore those; hypothetically, it could work out ok)
Starring (what at least used to be, when I was growing up) the household names of
Michael Tait as Hero (dcTalk, Tait, Newsboys)
Mark Stuart as Petrov (Audio Adrenaline)
Rebecca St. James as Maggie (recording artist, sister to the dudes of For King & Country, whose song Wait For Me is a well-known message for the True Love Waits movement)
Michael Quinlan as Jude (prolific producer)
Paul Wright as Agent Hunter (solo and contributing artist)
Nirva Dorsaint as Momma Mary (TobyMac and the Diverse City Band)
T-Bone as Jairus (hip-hop artist)
Matt Hammitt (Sanctus Real)*
Bob Farrell as Governor Pilate (I’ve said enough about him)
Donnie Lewis as Jairus’s wife (voice of an angel)**
GRITS as the Wedding Party, and featuring Nathan Lee and John Grey*
**Donnie Lewis also portrays Momma Mary in the live stage version.
*Nathan Lee, GRITS, Matt Hammitt, and John Gray do not appear in the live stage version.
I left out Chief Rabbi Kai. Why? In the recorded album, Kai is played by none other than John Cooper, frontman of Skillet (!!!). In the stage version, he is played by the lesser known Billy Buchanan (who had a band, but now devotes himself to teaching music and ministry). I cannot tell you whose portrayal I love more. They are both phenomenal.
And Michael Tait’s portrayal of Hero is possibly his best work in the history of ever, and I am a major dcTalk fan.
Hero tells the gospel story through songs bridging genres through
pop, rock, hiphop, and ballad. In what started as an album compilation
and quickly moved to a live stage tour, a graphic novel, and a couple
books by Stephen and Ross Lawhead.
Although album copies and dvds of the live performance are not the easiest to find, the entire live stage footage version is available on a Youtube playlist, and I would encourage you (anyone) to watch it there, because it needs to be experienced. I know the legality of this is slightly gray but if you enjoy it, you’ll want to buy it to listen to the album and see the full quality version anyway. (Oh, and wait until you listen to the song “Few Good Men” before passing judgement, because it is a tad slow to start.)
OKAY BUT WHAT I HAVEN’T SAID IS JUST HOW AMAZING IT IS. LIKE I’M BEING CHILL AND BORING AND DULL AND CAN I TELL YOU THIS PRODUCTION MAKES ME CRY ALL THE TIME AND THE MUSIC IS PHENOM AND THE ACTING ISN’T EVEN HALF BAD AND THE USE OF THE STAGE AND MINIMALISTIC COSTUMING IS BRILLIANT AND HAVE I MENTIONED THE FLIPPIN MUSIC <3 <3 <3
I seriously love this thing so much. I just. I cannot tell you what it means to me, has meant to me, and the things I continue to learn from it, and the way that I sit around and plot revival casts with both current Christian recording artists and Broadway stars. XD XD
It is beautiful.
“He brings message of love that threatens the powerful - from the religious leaders, to the ICON bosses.
But he was born to speak out, no matter what it cost him. Just what the powerful fear most: a champion of the people.”