I finally got to see Bruce Barton do his Pontius Pilate in the Union City Passion Play. The play itself - actually a musical - is pure crap. And I'm not saying that as an atheist, I'm saying that as someone with good taste. Of course it doesn't help that most of the cast are non-professional actors. The conceit is that this is a community theatre sort of show but that's not true. The community of Union City is like 90% Latino, but the cast was 90% non-Latino. When this passion play was first put on 97 years ago, it was probably an actual community affair. But now - I'm guessing the cast was mostly friends and family of the director.
The show does very well though - they bus church groups in from all over and the very large theatre was about 70% full, thanks to all the busloads of people. And it's an Equity contract so at least it pays. But still, why would Bruce schlepp to Union City for this crap year after year?
But after seeing the show, I understand - Bruce has the best part in the show. The scenes with Pontius Pilate actually have conflict, and Pilate acts like a normal human being that the audience can relate to, unlike Jesus Christ Superstar or his zombie-like followers. And Pilate has a wife who persuades him to go easy on Jesus, which makes him more like a harried public servant than a bad guy - he even gets some pretty big laughs.
The audience loved him - at curtain call, his ovation was equal to Jesus's ovation - maybe bigger. Bruce Barton might be bigger than Jesus.
Also, he looked awesome in the white, scarlet and gold toga.