A musical about Jesus Christ set to the music of Britney Spears is seeking funding to reach a larger audience, and its creators hope it will appeal to the religious and pop culture fans.
"Originally, when I came up with the concept, I wanted to share that there are two ways to look at something," "SPEARS" creator Pat Blute said.
Though the idea began as a joke between Blute and his friends, they quickly realized it could become a serious project.
"There's a lot of intelligence to her repertoire," he said. "Her discography is able to tell every part of the story we wanted to tell."
The musical tells the story of Jesus Christ's birth, life, death and resurrection using only Britney Spears. Some songs retain the feel of the original versions, while others are reimagined with a gospel, opera or Broadway sound.
Both Jesus Christ and Britney Spears are people who mean different things to different people, said the Catholic Blute. Both are revered as icons by some, mocked by others, and often misunderstood.
SPEARS isn't meant to be offensive, Blute said, and will appeal to those with a religious background. "I hope people come away thinking that we could all just be a little more respectful of one another."
Much of Spears' music deals with themes of romantic love, loss and loneliness, which can be reinterpreted to describe the Christian idea of the love of God and Christ's crucifixion. Spears sang "my loneliness is killing me" in 1998's "...Baby One More Time"; in Matthew 27:46, while nailed to the cross, Jesus said "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Spears' 2000 song "Stronger" references her earlier hit when she sings "my loneliness is killing me no more/I'm stronger than yesterday." The song is sung following Christ's resurrection.
Blute said he was especially inspired by Spears' deep cuts that were never released as singles. Songs like "Where Are You Now" from Oops!...I Did It Again allowed him to think about the lyrics and emotion of the song without the association many of her hits have with her music videos. "You should be able to look at these lyrics with a critical eye," he said.
The setlist includes songs like "...Baby One More Time," "(You Drive Me) Crazy," "Oops!...I Did It Again," "Stronger," "Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman," "3," and "I Wanna Go." Some of the gender pronouns of the songs have been switched, Blutte said, but other than that, the lyrics remain the same.
"The music is really very beautiful," said producer Cori Capik. "The reality is if you strip away the music videos, what her music says is really, really poignant. You can come expecting to smile and you can come expecting to cry."
The musical debuted at Columbia University in April, and two funders' preview shows are planned for New York's Foxwoods Theater Nov. 7. The team is now working to secure copyright for the music and enough funding to bring "SPEARS" to Broadway.