This week, my sweet little Sage found Jesus.
You might also know him from Weeds? Which is kind of a different role.
I can’t blame Sage for falling madly in love with him–after all he’s adorable, he’s great on a trampoline, and he shoots confetti into the audience. All important traits to a four year-old.
As for Nate, the Christopher Hitchens-admiring, fist-shaking Atheist, I can sense his discomfort as Sage runs around the house screaming, I WANT TO BE JESUS! I’M GOING TO BE JESUS! I LOVE JESUS!
Discomfort is an understatement. It’s giving him a permanent twitch.
“Nate, she also wants to be Violet Beauregarde,” I remind him. And Charlie Bucket. And Ponyo. And Wall-E. And the twins down the hall. And a cat. And Annie. In fact, she and Thalia can’t watch a movie with immediately “calling” who gets to be whom. Thus, it’s not unimaginable that right now, she wants to be the cute blond guy who sings Day by Day.
You know. Jesus.
It’s partly my fault, I imagine. When I was prepping them for the show I told them it was the story of Jesus. “You know…the magic guy.”
Really, who doesn’t want to see a play about a magic guy?
So when Mama Drama offered us tickets to the Broadway revival, I was thrilled. Godspell was one of my very favorites as a kid. So much so, that when I was 8, my best friend Tamar and I choreographed our own, pathetically awful dance to All for the Best. Emboldened by accolades from friends and family (all those spectacular kick-ball-changes, no doubt), we wrote a letter to the producers to inform them about our most excellent dance.
They wrote us back.
They not only wrote us back, they invited us backstage to perform it for the cast and crew one weekend.
Oh, did we rehearse. We rehearsed like you’ve never seen 8 year-olds rehearse for anything. We rehearsed like were going to be the first ever 8 year-olds on Solid Gold. Which was interesting, considering surely my debut appearance on Solid Gold would be performing Dancing Queen. All for the Best was much more Star Search material.
Days before our Broadway debut, I still remember the second letter that came in the mail. I tore it open eagerly–were they offering us a part? Were they telling us we would be the first ever third-graders to make a Godspell cameo on Broadway without so much as an audition? Our dreams were coming true!
The news was not good. One of the play’s producers had died and the show was closing on Broadway.
Our performance was canceled; our dance never to be seen outside the small bit of floor space just off the yellow shag rug in my parents’ living room.
Now, exactly 35 years later (wow), it’s like unfinished business coming full circle. It all floods back as my kids discover the same joy of real, grown-up musical theater. I watch Thalia flit and fly and spin around the room to Day by Day (she makes me start “at the fast part”) as Sage acts out the sheep/goat parable to the best of her memory and argues that “Prepare Ye” is really a single word called preparey. Rhymes with hairy.
They are indeed my children.
They love theater. They love Godspell. And I love that they love it.
Even if it means we keep reminding them that the way Daddy and I believe it, it’s only a story. Like Zeus. Like Rapunzel. But that we like the story, because Jesus taught such great lessons about being nice to each other, and caring about people more than money, being nice to our parents, and how it’s okay for even adults to jump on trampolines.
So you can hardly blame Sage for running up to every adult at school she can find this week, and telling them that she she saw Godspell and that Jesus is her favorite guy and she loves him.
Then she makes this sad face with the longest frown that could break the hardest man’s heart and whispers, “but I cwied at the end.
Because he dies.”
I hope I didn’t spoil it for anyone.