The Messiah Underground
A Musical by
Phillip Palmer &
ABOUT THE PROJECT:
Stacey Luftig along with partners Phillip Palmer and Larry Kunofsky are building this musical from the ground up.
The kernel of a concept for our musical began when Phil heard a couple of podcasts that analyzed the meaning behind the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan, not just from a spiritual but also from a political perspective. We all agreed that this basic, pure story of how we should treat our neighbor is difficult to put into practice, even under normal circumstances, but has become next-to impossible to honor in these tumultuous times. We were committed, from day one, to addressing how all of us today are ignoring the most basic principle of goodness that we possess as a society, as a species. But we wanted this project to be fun! We were all deeply passionate about the ancient/biblical tenets and making them feel new again through a musical, but we knew we couldn’t just stage an angry rant with songs….
Our story takes place in ancient Jerusalem, during the time of Jesus, who, in our story, goes up on stage every night in an underground club to rant. “The Messiah Underground” is the name of this club. In the world of this show, the people referred to as prophets in the Bible are just considered “performers.” Sometimes the Roman occupiers mockingly refer to these performers as “Messiahs.” They’re kind of like the ancient Jerusalem equivalent of standup comics.
Our main characters are Havilah and Avigdor, the co-owners of the club, who are both Jews struggling with the Roman occupation. They’re not true believers; in fact, they’re mainly in this Messiah business for themselves, but they get involved with the performers at the club, Jesus being just one of them, and they become whatever the ancient Jerusalem version of Woke is.
And rounding out the principal cast is Regulus, second only to Pontius Pilate in the Roman occupation of Jerusalem. He married a nice Jewish girl and ends up as Avigdor’s brother-in-law. Regulus is regular-army, all about the rules, a tough guy, a badass, but also decent. He is known in Jerusalem as The Good Roman. And his arc throughout the show is, after seeing how unsustainable the Roman way is, is that he learns to become a good man.
We’re basically trying to add resistance, intersectionality, feminism, multiculturalism, and comedy (and of course, great songs) to what we think we know about history and the bible.
“We get it. We’re here in ancient Jerusalem. You guys are in modern times. I’m sure where you’re from, you solved the class problems, the race problems, you don’t throw people in jail just for being different. And hey. Good for you. But around here, we’ve got our own problems. We’ll break it down for you. Sit back. Chill.”
As of March 2020, the story line described above is undergoing revisions, and we eagerly await the next step in April and May.