Hailed by critics, actor (and former JDater®) Josh Young is being called “brilliant” in his Broadway debut as Judas Iscariot in Jesus Christ Superstar. Fans of his performance say he takes the character to an entirely new level, playing Judas in a new way that explains his betrayal of Jesus Christ as an action caused by his unrequited love for Christ. Young tells us why playing this role is so fascinating to a “Hebrew school-learned” Jew like himself and why this role indirectly led him to meet his Beshert on JDate!
JDate: Tell us a little bit about your role as Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar.
Josh Young: Well, since I’m assuming the majority of your readers are of the Jewish persuasion, and unfamiliar with the New Testament, I’d be happy to give a little summary about who was Judas Iscariot. One way or another, his actions have been attributed to the cause of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. While many over history have vilified him and painted Judas as Satan’s pawn, in portraying him, I try to find his more human side and try to figure out what really may have compelled Judas to turn Jesus over to the high priests who then turned him over to King Herod who then put him in the hands of the Romans who did crucify him. Many have speculated that Judas sold Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver. I try to show that that was not at all the case.
JDate: What has playing the role of Judas taught you personally?
Josh Young: Honestly, what I’ve learned most about is the origins of Christianity. For one, I had no idea that there were four Gospels (accounts) to which all of Christianity subscribes. These are the books of the New Testament and they include The Gospel according to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. And the thing is, they all tell a slightly different story!
I also came to learn that there were dozens of other “lost Gospels” that told similar stories of “The Passion,” but that a bishop in around 400 AD just deemed them “wrong” and had them burned. No one can really say whose account of the last days of Christ is right or wrong. For now, I’m going with the Andrew Lloyd Webber version. It’s all quite fascinating to this Hebrew school-learned Jew.
JDate: What is it like to be a Jew starring in a musical with a Christian tone?
Josh Young: I actually think it works overwhelmingly in my favor. Jesus and all of his disciples were Jews and followed the Torah, the Ten Commandments and many of the traditions that we as Jews still observe today. One of the scenes in the show is even around a very famous Passover table. As an actor, it is helpful to know that the book I studied in Hebrew school is the same that Judas would have studied 2,000 years ago. I would not say that this musical has a Christian tone at all. Sure it tells the story of the origins of Christianity, but it’s also a story of Jews and Romans.
JDate: This is your Broadway debut – were you nervous for opening night?
Josh Young: Yes. I wish I could say I was cool, calm and collected, but that was not the case. I actually am rarely nervous, especially if it’s something for which I’m very prepared.
JDate: You met your fiancée on JDate, tell us how you met!
Josh Young: I had just spent a year as a company member at The Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Ontario. Stratford is about two hours from Toronto. Now, considering the population of talented entertainment folk, you would think there would be some nice, Jewish girls… but no. I was lucky enough to be hired back for the next season at Stratford and took three months in Toronto and NYC to record my new album, Still Dreaming of Paradise. This was shortly after my sister’s engagement to the man she also met on JDate. So, I put up my profile, had two amazing dates, and promptly told my parents, “I met the girl I’m going to marry.” We did some very long distance dating. She would fly to NYC or I would fly back to Toronto, and then when the next season at Stratford started, we continued our relationship with a two-hour commute back and forth from Stratford to Toronto for a full year. It was that simple.
JDate: Any advice for current JDaters?
Josh Young: My fiancée was on JDate for a while longer than I, and she has some pretty interesting stories. I asked what she would say: “Be persistent, and have a sense of humor about it all. Meeting “The One” makes all the bizarre situations and awkward conversations worthwhile!”
JDate: What’s next for you?
Josh Young: Right now? Playing Judas on Broadway while planning a wedding in the fall!