Former Skid Row frontman Sebastian Bach has no trouble finding parallels between his experiences as a heavy-metal rock star and his role as the Son of God in Jesus Christ Superstar, playing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. As a rock star, he says, "They treat you as God; then they drop your video. Jesus is looked up to and revered and treated as a superstar; then his band kicks him out. In my own life, my band kicked me out in 1996."
Putting Bach in the lead role has created some interesting audiences. "Jesus Christ's power is in calm, which is a new thing for Sebastian Bach," Bach says, with his frequent affectation of referring to himself in the third person. "When I go on stage in rock 'n' roll, my intention is to expend every ounce of energy I have. When Jesus is being killed, it is my instinct to resist and fight back. Jesus Christ accepts it. I am trying to give a good show to my fans, who are all metalheads and Ozzyheads, and I know they're asking, 'Why doesn't he kick ass?'"
The stage schedule is a heavier load than Bach ever shouldered touring with his band. "This is the biggest tour I have ever headlined in my life. I am doing 16 motherfucking shows at the [Broward Center for the Performing Arts]. There's a reason I'm the only heavy-metal guy who does this. I'm the only one who can."
Jesus Christ Superstar
Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Through January 5. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 to $60. Call 954-462-0222.
It's eight performances a week, with no holidays off. The Broward Center opened the show on Christmas Day, so Bach had to honor the Lord and Savior on stage. "Jesus definitely does not get the 25th off," Bach says. "That's rush hour for me."
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Perhaps an even bigger challenge for Bach is the ban on interacting with the audience during a performance. "In theater, there's an imaginary wall between the musical itself and the audience. You're never supposed to engage direct eye contact or engage at all with the audience. [During concerts] I would go out of my way to engage eye contact with each and every audience member. That's Sebastian Bach live; this is Jesus Christ."
Still, Bach admits, "Playing Jesus Christ is intimidating. I wouldn't have chosen it as my first musical." Bach also starred in Jekyll and Hyde and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. "It's some pretty big sandals to fill. But I'm the front man; I'm good at that. I'm not afraid to say that."
Bach's career, oddly enough, started in the church, as a choir member of the Anglican church in Canada. "I was the lead soprano. My first-ever tour was in the church choir when I was 9 years old. We slept in parishioners' houses. I slept on priests' floors."
Now he's way above the priests, at least on stage. So how is he possibly going to top that? Who will he play after Jesus Christ? "Sebastian Bach," he says. "I'll be doing a solo record again, touring again." Not someone holy but someone revered by his fans.