Jesus' Kid Brother
a kate west review
Music, lyrics & book by Brian & Mark Karmelich
Directed by Jules Aaron
Hudson Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd
Hollywood, CA (323) 856-4200
EXTENDED October 3 now through December -
Although critically touted as a Los Angeles hit sensation, the new musical "Jesus' Kid Brother" leaves much to be desired. From the excruciatingly simple lyrical score (think along the lines of "Jesus in school. He is so cool") to the wildly inappropriate final dance number, this production fails to hit an intelligent satirical mark. It is certainly no "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Director Jules Aaron does a solid job of blocking the piece, while the real stage dynamics are credited to Choreographer Brian Paul Mendoza. Yet however much the actors work at it, they cannot overcome the poor material.
The story revolves around Larry Christ (the name is already a hoot!), Jesus' kid brother, admirably portrayed by John Altieri (on alternate nights) who pours his heart into an uninspiring role.
Other standouts include Jeffrey Landman as an earnest Joseph and Amir Talai as a proud, tongue-in-cheek Pontius Pilate. Larry is feeling down being under the shadow of the Messiah, while his family and friends offer comfort. Joseph explains that family is all-important and that he needs to find his own way. Larry takes this advice to heart and sets out to find someone to share his life with. He runs into Mary (vocally way-too-uber-strong Katherine Von Till), daughter of mortal enemy Pontius Pilate.
They fall in love but naturally Mary is already betrothed to a Roman soldier and her parents would never let her marry a Jew. That headache, combined with all-consuming guilt over the villagers choosing to free his best friend Barabbas (Christopher Dean Briant) over his own brother Jesus Christ, forces Larry to stage a resurrection in order to keep Jesus' image alive.
Incredibly offensive as this might seem to some, the creators push the envelope even further with a dancing Jesus as well as a dancing crucified Roman soldier. Jesus' actual resurrection supposedly redeems his brother Larry but the sight of Christ in a phony beard only takes the mockery to another level. (Costumer Shon LeBlanc might want to rethink that look.).
A special note should also be made to Lighting Designer J. Kent Inasy not to leave chorus members in the dark.
The entire story is not worth retelling as it not a tale worth recounting. Suffice to say, there is a lot of poor story-telling, bad music, bad jokes, bad puns, obvious humor, little originality and never any true parody. You would be much better off spending the ticket price for this fiasco on purchasing Monty Python's brilliant social satire Life of Brian ( a convenient link can be found below...).
Jesus' Kid Brother