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!Hero: A Multimedia Splendor
Reviewed by Barb Huff

Imagine a modern-day New York City in a world that is still waiting for a Messiah. Anarchy reigns under a corrupt police-state government, known as I.C.O.N., where rival gangs grease the palms of
government officials to look the other way. Mysticism and occult practices run wild, and a dwindling Jewish community still waits for their Christ to come.

Out of one of those little Jewish communities comes Hero (Michael Tait of dcTalk & Tait), a young man born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to a virgin woman. He talks of love, forgiveness, and a new world beyond this one as he walks tall through the streets of the city, unafraid of the beggars and the ruffians about. Among them, he finds Petrov (Mark Stuart of Audio Adrenaline), a quick-tempered street thug eager to follow Hero; Jude (Michael Quinlan), so interested in the fame and opportunities for wealth that come to him as part of Hero's posse that he betrays him for cash; and Maggie (Rebecca St. James), a tarot reader and prostitute proud of her reputation as "the best deal
in town."

John (Paul Wright), an I.C.O.N. police officer bent on exposing the lies of Hero only to become his strongest supporter, is our storyteller, explaining to us from his prison cell how he found the truth. !Hero was born from the imagination of Eddie DeGarmo of DeGarmo and Key, a pioneer in Christian rock in the 80s. He envisioned spreading the gospel using the in-your-face approaches of MTV, along with a multimedia array of products. For those who don't like musicals, there are comic books. For those who can't make it to the tour, the CD is available at every major retailer, and the entire musical is there. (My suggestion is, if you must have any one thing, it's the CD.) For those who prefer a novel, pick up City of Dreams. A DVD is scheduled to be released once the tour is finished. Anyone can find a medium for this material that he's comfortable with, and that was DeGarmo's plan -- spreading the story of Christ to as many people as possible.

The story is a familiar one for Christians. Hero turns water into wine in a rousing wedding scene and catches the eye of Kai, the corrupt religious leader. In one of the most powerful scenes of the show, he is confronted by Jairus (T-Bone), a father who puts so much faith in the Hero he's heard about that he goes and finds him instead of a doctor when his teenaged daughter is killed during a drive-by shooting. T-Bones' flows are so rich and quick that the words are flashed across the screen behind him so the viewer can understand his rap. During his glorious return to New York's Yankee Stadium, the audience is led in singing "Hosanna, hosanna!" as Hero makes his way from the back of the stadium, and Jude is making plans with Kai to bring him down. Another scene has the actors shooting bread pieces into the crowd to a rousing song called" Manna from Heaven" in a scene reminiscent of Christ's feeding the five thousand. Finally, Hero is captured and brought before the ailing Governor Pilate (Bob Farrell), who hands Hero over to Kai to appease the angry crowd," tired of being told how to live their lives by the wandering egomaniac."

With pulsing beats and heavy guitar riffs, the music of Hero stretches across the genres of pop music. John narrates to a West Coast flava of smooth, melodic storytelling while Jairus' "Raised in Harlem" is a fast flow of East Coast lyrical rhyme. Petrov wins for the best DeGarmo and Key impersonation with the title song "Hero." Smooth ballads are found in the duet between Mary and Hero, "Lose My Life With You," and the love song between John and Maggie, "Stand By You." Only the confrontation between Hero and Kai, "Not In Our House," has elements of your typical show-tune climactic number. The stage set is top-notch, complete with dual video screens that flash images and words to help convey the feelings of the characters, rolling fogs, and beating light shows.

It's a lofty goal to think that another musical about the life of Christ will bring the masses into a church, but whether it succeeds at that or not, it's a good affirmation for the Christian masses. And if it's used as a good witnessing tool for just one person, then heaven's rejoicing because of another lofty vision of a pioneer of the genre and an all-star cast. And I can think of much worse ways for Eddie DeGarmo to have used his talents.

Barb Huff is the author of the ON TOUR series for teens ( Her next two books-- THE SECRET and THE SONGWRITER are due to be released in the fall of '04. To learn more about Barb, visit

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