Marvin Olasky

Why? It's materially risky but even harder spiritually. You need to be concerned with looks without looking into the mirror at every spare moment and admiring yourself. You need to promote yourself without becoming self-absorbed. You need to keep going to casting calls and not be cast down when you're not selected. You may have to be separated from your spouse during national tours.

Nikki notes that being a Christian is helpful "because you know there's a bigger plan for your life, it's not all about you." Jeff nods but adds that "you're representing Jesus" within a culture antagonistic toward Him, so non-­Christians cheerily say, "aha, aha," if you falter—and Christians may also judge you for accepting certain roles.

For example, some Christians will not want to see Billy Elliot, which is based loosely on a sometimes-violent 1984-85 British coalminers strike and includes lots of rough language as well as a cross-dressing boy who yearns to kiss 11-year-old Billy Elliott. But Jeff has a terrific role in Tony, Billy's big brother: "not a very nice guy," Jeff notes. Tony is gung-ho on striking—the actual strike divided the coalminers so badly that the union leader never risked a vote authorizing it—and ready to hit anyone who isn't. He and their dad oppose Billy's desire to take ballet rather than boxing lessons.

The gay undertones are obvious, but the musical is also in the American tradition of kids blazing their own trails. The first full-length movie with sound, The Jazz Singer, featured Al Jolson as the son of a Jewish cantor who wants him to sing at synagogue services—but Jolson's character loves Broadway jazz. In a sense, that's the Jeff and Nikki story as well: They could perform in "wholesome" entertainment in Lancaster, or Branson, Mo., or Pigeon Forge, Tenn., but they've received both an internal and an external call to Broadway—and they don't hide their faith in Christ.


Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit www.worldmag.com.
 
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