Cast Size: Small (1-10) • Medium (5-21) • Large (14+). Vocal Demands: Moderate • Challenging. Dance Requirements: Some Dancing Required • Minimal. Good For: High School • College/University • Amateur/Community • Professional Theatre • Religious Organization.
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Written By: Jesus Christ Superstar
A La Jolla Playhouse presentation of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival production of a rock opera in two acts, with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Directed by Des McAnuff. Choreography, Lisa Shriver. Musical director, Rick Fox. Sets, Robert Brill; costumes, Paul Tazewell; lighting, Howell Binkley; video, Sean Nieuwenhuis; sound, Jim Neil; fight director, Daniel Levinson, stunt coordinator, Simon Fon. Opened Nov. 30, 2011. Reviewed Dec. 3. Runs through Dec. 31. Running time: 110 MIN.
Jesus Christ - Paul Nolan
Judas Iscariot - Josh
Young Mary Magdalene - Chilina KennedyPontius
Pilate - Jeremy Kushnier
King Herod Bruce Dow
Caiaphas - Marcus Nance
Annas - Aaron Walpole
With: Matt Alfano, Mary Antonini, Karen Burthwright, Jacqueline Burtney, Mark Cassius, Ryan Gifford, Kaylee Harwood, Mike Nadajewski, Melissa O'Neil, Laurin Padolina, Stephen Patterson, Katrina Reynolds, Jennifer Rider-Shaw, Matthew Rossoff, Jaz Sealey, Jason Sermonia, Julius Sermonia, Lee Siegel, Jonathan Winsby, Sandy Winsby.
In Des McAnuff's Broadway-bound revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar," costume designer Paul Tazewell dresses the title character in solid white, as if offering a blank canvas on which the world is invited to paint for the next 2,000 years and beyond. The usefulness of the carpenter from Nazareth to serve everyone's select purposes is the theme here, surely the most thoughtful and scintillating reading of the Webber/Rice rock opera since its 1969 recording.
Under the overture, turbanned, black-coated riot police spin spears to whack raggedy proles. While this production was conceived in Stratford, Ontario long before the Wall Street protests, an inescapable sense of "Occupy Judea" creates immediacy, reinforced by a news ticker orienting us to time and place. Pharisees wielding pepper spray wouldn't be a surprising sight.
Establishing the nation's power vacuum opens the door (literally, at the rear of Robert Brill's glittering palace of a set) to the answer to a prayer. Not the usual one-dimensional saintly/pallid Jesus, Paul Nolan offers intriguing levels of engagement and detachment, always leaving us once removed from understanding him in full. In that, he consciously evokes the remote superstars of our age: James Dean; John Lennon; Bowie and Jagger - all those enigmas on which we could eagerly project whatever we fancied.
It's no different in Jerusalem, circa 33 A.D. An oppressed populace dances its need for Messiah in Lisa Shriver's exciting choreography. The apostles sing their craving for a fighting commander. Temple elders Annas (weaselly Aaron Walpole) and Caiaphas (menacing basso Marcus Nance) must manufacture a scapegoat to keep Rome out of their hair, while Governor Pilate (a subtly nuanced Jeremy Kushnier) is plagued by existential doubt. Jesus becomes everybody's obscure object of desire, exactly as he remains today.
Even King Herod (Bruce Dow), typically dismissable as a preening, queeny jester ("Walk across my swimming pool"), is granted gravitas. His vaudevilley Charleston is an amusingly rousing Vegas lounge act, but because this potentate is desperately seeking salvation, Dow is crushed to realize "You're not the Lord/You're nothing but a fraud!" An ordinarily contemptuous snap is invested with genuine terror.
Still more personal demands are placed by tormented Judas (Josh Young) and reviled Mary Magdalene (Chilina Kennedy). McAnuff sets up an affectional triangle in which the Master's mixed signals alternately seduce and perturb his dearest disciples, analogous to the spiritual crises described by sages from St. Augustine to Thomas Merton.
The helmer's notion would actually work better if Jesus kept both at equal arm's length. By isolating Judas yet granting Mary unfettered access to Jesus' attention, McAnuff stacks the deck and reduces the tension. Kennedy lacks vulnerability anyway, and her "I Don't Know How to Love Him" comes across as a mere announcement, not an anguished question. It's a rare directorial misstep in an array of incidents marked by equal measures of theatricality and probing intelligence.
Concept comes to full fruition in the title number, usually carelessly tossed in just because A, it's great; and B, it's on the album. Here, McAnuff reincarnates Judas as a spangled Jimmy Swaggart, strutting atop a ramp jutting out over the auditorium. As the quietly dignified Jesus begins to speak at his side, the sizzling Young revs up the evangelical fervor - and suddenly we can't hear a word of The Word; the gospel becomes an afterthought. This dramatization of man's inhumanity to Jesus' message becomes a memorable staging coup.
"Superstar" is a triumph of interpretation no less impressive than the helmer's brilliantly multicultural reimagining of "The Wiz" in 2006, which unfortunately never made it out of La Jolla. Mischievous original helmer Tom O'Horgan announced, "I want to shake 'em up," but McAnuff wants to make 'em think and feel. What premiered in Gotham in 1971 as a campy mess will shortly return as a smart and moving spectacle.
Table of Contents
- 1971: Broadway debut in the US at the Mark Hellinger Theatre, New York1972: UK debut on London’s West End at the Palace Theatre, starring Paul Nicholas and Stephen Tate
- 1972: Record breaking tours open in Sweden and Australia.1973: Shiki show interpretation opens in Japan.
- 1983: UK touring production began at the Manchester Palace1992: UK 20th anniversary tour, co-produced by and starring Paul Nicholas
- 1991: Japanese Kabuki production in London’s Dominion Theatre
- 1992: Australian arena concert broke all box office records at the time attracting an audience of over one million.
- 1995: Productions in Italy by Massimo Romeo Piparo over 10 years from 1995-2005, with revivals from 2009-20111996: 25th anniversary heralded a brand new UK production at the Lyceum, Theatre, London. Steve Balsamo sang the part of Jesus and Zubin Varla played Judas
- 1998: A new production by Really Useful Group and starring Glenn Carter mounted for UK tour, opening to critical and public acclaim in Newcastle Upon Tyne and transferring after an 18 month run to Germany
- 2000: Revival of the 1998 UK tour for 10 months
- 2000: Production at New York’s Ford Center for the Performing Arts on Broadway, again starring Glenn Carter
- 2001: A production in Mexico City ran for nine months2002: USA tour revival which ran for over two years.
- 2004: Two month tour in Korea2004: UK tour which ran for a year and then again in
- 2008, produced and directed by Bill Kenwright
- 2005/06: Netherlands national tour
- 2006: Tour across USA featuring Ted Neeley from the 1973 movie.
- 2006: Production opens in South Africa.2007: Production in Greece at the Badminton Theater, Athens
- 2007/08: Production in Madrid, followed by tour around Spain
- 2010: Production opens in Hungary at the Madach Theatre, Budapest, and continues today
- 2011: 40th anniversary of the first USA stage production
- 2011: Show revival in South Africa.2011: Japanese Shiki Revival launches.
- 2011: Czech Republic production opens at the Karlin Theatre, Prague, and continues today
- 2012: A new production directed by Des McAnuff opened on Broadway at the Neil Simon Theatre on 22 March
The 12th October 1971 should have been the happiest night of my life. I was 23 years old and a fairy tale was about to come true. An unknown British young man was to have his first musical premiered on Broadway. Jesus Christ Superstar was to open on the very same stage as My Fair Lady had played only a decade and a half before.
I shall never forget the saga of Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway. Never in my opinion was so wrong a production mounted of my work. Even though this brash and vulgar interpretation was quite leniently dealt with by the critics at the time, the public saw through it. The biggest selling double album of all time ran in its first theatre incarnation a mere 20 months.
Throughout its entire preview period I was never allowed to rehearse the orchestra. Looking back 25 years later, I suppose there were pluses. Because the production was so awful, no production of Superstar in the rest of the world was the same, so I had a baptism of fire by a kaleidoscopic gaggle of directors.
Most important, I resolved that night that when I got my first opportunity I would start my own production company.
Tony AwardsJanuary 01, 1972 — 1 Nomination for Best Musical Revival
January 01, 2000 — 1 Nomination for Best Musical Revival
Vocal Range of Characters:
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- Orchestration Package (18 Books)
- 1 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
- 1 – REED I (Flute Doubling Piccolo)
- 1 – REED II (Flute Doubling Clarinet)
- 1 – REED III (Oboe)
- 1 – REED IV (Bassoon)
- 1 – HORN
- 1 – TRUMPET I
- 1 – TRUMPET II
- 1 – TROMBONE
- 1 – VIOLIN I (Divisi)
- 1 – VIOLIN II (Divisi)
- 1 – VIOLA (Divisi)
- 1 – CELLO
- 1 – ELECTRIC BASS GUITAR
- 1 – ELECTRIC GUITAR
- 1 – PIANO/ORGAN
- 1 – DRUMS
- 1 – PERCUSSION (1 or 2 players - see list below)
- Rehearsal Set (22 Books)
- 20 – Libretto-Vocal Books
- 1 – Logo CD
- 2 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
- 1 – Logo sheet
- 0 – Digital Logo
- Libretto/Vocal Books 10 pack
- 10 – Libretto-Vocal Books
- Jesus Christ Superstar - Pre-Production Pack
- 1 – Libretto-Vocal Books
- 1 – PIANO CONDUCTOR SCORE
Large singing ensemble consisting of Lepers, Cured Lepers, Merchants, Apostles, Soldiers, Judas's Tormentors, Reporters, Temple Ladies, and Soul Girls.
Jesus of Nazareth