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Higher Ground: Sex Pistol Superstar

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What do a Sex Pistols' frontman, a boy-band heartthrob and a member of Destiny's Child who is "not Beyonce" have in common?

This summer, they will be sharing a stage as part of the touring cast of "Jesus Christ Superstar," the 1971 rock opera that tells the story of the last seven days of Jesus' life.

The Son of God normally takes center stage when it comes to New Testament retellings, but the musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice uses secondary characters to recount Christ's final week.

Putting the rock in rock opera, John ("Johnny Rotten") Lydon, former lead singer of the British punk band, will play King Herod, while JC Chasez of the band 'N Sync — yes, the same pop monster that also created Justin Timberlake — takes on the role of Pontius Pilate.

Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child steps into the role of Mary Magdalene, and everyone's favorite betrayer, Judas Iscariot, is played by Incubus lead singer Brandon Boyd.

The title role will be played by Ben Forster, an Englishman who is no stranger to the stage, and won a singing contest in 2012 that landed the same role for television. The story, according to the show's website, has been updated to 2014 and includes "contemporary costumes plus arena-scale lighting and video effects."

The show kicks off June 9 in New Orleans and passes through 50 cities — including the District on Aug. 7 — before the end of its run Aug. 17 in Philadelphia.

A scroll through the site's pictures display a set and light show that could rival any stadium show during 'N Sync's heyday, and the 50-member cast includes a half-dozen "parkour" performers, so expect lots of tumbling and climbing on the way up to Calvary.

'FROZEN' FOR THE CHOSEN

Just about everyone, from 2-year-olds with rock star dreams to burly guys with their sensitive sides (and tone-deaf friends), has given voice to their version of the song "Let It Go," the wildly popular song from the Disney movie "Frozen."

Originally sung by Broadway star Idina Menzel, the song has taken the Internet by storm with all manner of versions posted to YouTube. Just in time for Passover, the Jewish a capella group Six13 has created its own version: "Chozen (A Passover Tribute)."

"This Passover we celebrate our freedom, our favorite festival, our fabulous fans, and aspiring Disney princesses everywhere," the group said on the video's YouTube page.

Sporting jeans, button-down shirts and black blazers, the six men meander through New York City singing about plagues, pharaohs and Moses demanding to "let us go."

Since its posting Monday, the video has received about 120,0000 views and mostly favorable reviews.

The video can be watched using this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwBuNtd4xAY.

A VOICE FROM THE ALTAR

An Irish priest also is taking YouTube by storm, thanks to his stirring rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" during a wedding he officiated last weekend.

A video of the Rev. Ray Kelly singing a customized version of the song during the ceremony has passed 100,000 views, according to the Irish Independent.

"Normally for a local couple, they'd ask me to sing at the wedding and I'd oblige, but this couple had no idea," he told an Irish radio station. "I put on my track for Leonard Cohen [at the altar], and that's where it took off."

Father Kelly is a priest in Oldcastle, County Meath, and the couple, Chris and Leah O'Kane, were from out of town and not expecting the song. Their guests were equally shocked, though by the end of Father Kelly's performance, the church had erupted in cheers and a standing ovation. Despite his growing popularity online, Father Kelly said he has no plans to take his show on the road.

"I enjoy singing, but I wouldn't want to do it full time," he told BBC Radio in Northern Ireland. "I love what I'm doing as a priest."

Father Kelly's rendition can be watched using this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYKwqj5QViQ&list=UUz3ZTkHGStSYVlh-ibvbk4g.

MASS UNHAPPINESS

Not all Catholic priests are happy with changes made to the English text now used during Mass, a survey shows.

Nearly 40 percent of priests said they were apprehensive about the changes three years ago, and many remain unhappy with the adjustments.

The revisions first appeared in late 2011, and included new wording for prayers said by the priest and new responses for the congregation.

The survey was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, which is based at Georgetown University.

Out of the 539 responses, about 85 percent came from clergy members such as priests or deacons, while the other 15 percent of responses were from lay leaders.

Of the lay leaders, about one-third of them, the largest group, said they were looking forward to the revisions and still liked them three years later. Nearly 60 percent of the lay leaders said they now support the changes.

"Clergy are more likely than lay leaders to express a negative attitude about the new texts," the survey found.

About 28 percent of clergy members said they were looking forward to the changes before they took effect, and that approval remained.

About 17 percent of the parish leaders said they changed their minds about the revisions and liked the new language, while 11 percent of them had been excited for the changes but now regretted them. Six percent said they hadn't noticed a difference.

For more information, visit http://cara.georgetown.edu.

Meredith Somers cover religion and faith issues for The Washington Times.

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