CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- My daughter fell in love with the stage when she was so very young. She was only 18 months old when I took her to see her first show, a local production of "Peter Pan." Over the course of the two-hour show, which she watched standing up, she never once took her eyes from the stage.
So many shows followed that I quickly lost track of the number. Her reaction was always the same -- riveted. At home, rather than the cartoons or animated shows most kids preferred, Celeste would watch videos of staged productions over and over again.
Even so, she wasn't one of those children who had to be the center of attention. She spent so much time hiding behind me and avoiding any kind of notice that I worried she'd end up being as backward as I, overly quiet, with a crippling fear of speaking in public.
Hoping to derail what I feared was genetically inevitable, as soon as Celeste was old enough, I took her and a friend to audition for roles in a children's theater production. Soon, one play was coming right on the heels of another, with summer theater camps in between. Skip ahead nine or 10 years and she's been in more than a dozen shows, the latest of which is as a member of the chorus in the Contemporary Youth Arts Company production of "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Last Sunday night, I tagged along with her for rehearsal at the West Virginia State University Capitol Center Theater on Summers Street. It was the first time the entire cast was rehearsing all together on the actual stage. Although the set was still in the early phases of construction, the basic structure was there (albeit wobbly).
The original "Jesus Christ Superstar" -- a rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Tim Rice -- first opened on Broadway when I was still in grade school. While I knew the words to some of the songs, I'd never actually seen either the stage version or the movie.
As a child, I remember hearing that the show was considered blasphemous, so I was a little concerned when Celeste told us she was part of the cast. I read up on the controversy and talked to a few friends whose wisdom I value. Said a most devout Catholic, "I suspect that to many Christians of some stripes, Michelangelo would be blasphemous."
Said another, "I'm barely a Christian, but I left the show feeling closer to God."