Rock opera Hero begins live performances despite threat of protests.

AMERICAN rock opera Hero, featuring Michael Tait, Rebecca St James, Mark Stuart and T-Bone, began its US tour to critical acclaim despite protests over African American Tait performing the title role of Jesus. The premier in Wabash, Indiana, went off without a hitch, but was watched closely by a contingent of city and county officials, both inside and outside the venue. Theatre management in Wabash reported that the show sold out quicker than any performance since Weird Al and they were amazed at the standing ovation. "People here don't stand. I was blown away!" they said. Both sold out shows concluded with extended standing ovations.

Audience reaction was an affirmation to the 10 years of planning, writing and developing Hero. The rock opera's mastermind composer and record producer Eddie DeGarmo said, "People wept at the scene of the crucifixion and they screamed praises when Hero was seen alive. It was quite emotional, not only for the audience, but for me." Post-event interviews evidenced a broad demographic of attendees. A senior citizen season ticket holder said, "At first I thought it was pretty loud, but when I listened, I caught on to the story and it was great," while a youth group left looking for other nearby performances, seeing it as an evangelistic tool. A young African American said, "Seeing Michael Tait as Jesus was exciting. Not that Jesus is black or white, but it is the first time I've seen something like this, and it was refreshing." CR

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