Company Theatre's current musical is "Jesus Christ Superstar", Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's rock opera. The show chronicles the last seven days in the life of Jesus of Nazareth as seen through the eyes of one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot who has become disenchanted with the movement. At the start of the show, Judas agonizes over his perception that Jesus' followers have become fanatical and unrealistic, hailing him as a god. Because in Judas' mind, Jesus is only a man with certain inconsistencies including his relationship with Mary Magdalene. As the crowds in the street grow more and more out of control, the rift between Jesus and Judas grows. After watching Jesus lose control in the temple, Judas perceives that Jesus has become dangerous and must be stopped. He goes to the priests and gives them information on how to capture Jesus alone at Gethsemane without risking violence from the mob. After watching events unfold, Judas realizes his actions have become the instrument of Jesus' martyrdom. Furious that Jesus will be remembered as a "Superstar", Judas kills himself as his misguided betrayal leads to Jesus' crucifixion. The show first opened on Broadway on October 12, 1971 and ran for 720 performances. This musical is a combination of different musical styles, rock rhythm with ballad narrative, dramatic characterization with rollicking choreography and operatic star performances that together communicate a humble theme of love and acceptance. These sacred themes are fused with ancient political history and modern sensibilities into a new form of theater art. Directors Zoe Bradford and Jordie Saucerman with musical director Michael Joseph and choreographer Sally Ashton Forrest picked the best 26 performers to pull off this powerful musical which will move you to tears with its heartfelt and touching performances.
Zoe and Jordie keep the action flowing from scene to scene. Their creative blocking on the two story set designed by Zoe and built by James Valentin is amazing. Some picture postcard moments are The Last Supper and Crucifixion. They obtain fantastic nuanced performances in this epic show. Zoe and Jordie's surprise twist of Jesus' resurrection at the end of the show, gives the audience a hopeful message for Jesus' current disciples in the world. Jesus' rising, flying upwards as the cross is lit, is the perfect ending to this well known musical. Michael conducts a magnificent 14 piece orchestra and taught the cast the intricate melodies, harmonies and tongue twisting lyrics. Sally's dances astound the audience with the expertise of the cast especially in the "Superstar" and opening number. The multitude of gorgeous costumes are by Cameron McEachern with terrific lighting by Jonathan Sikora. The cast is lead by Brendan Duquette as Jesus. He has a splendid tenor voice which handles the rock side of the spectrum as well as a falsetto for the mellower moments. His "Gethsemane" will leave you in tears as he builds the song to a soaring crescendo, does a super job on "Hosanna" and he uses his strong falsetto in "Poor Jerusalem." Brendan not only has topnotch vocal ability but is a powerful actor in this role. Some of his outstanding moments include the Last Supper, the whipping scene and the crucifixion. I first reviewed Brendan in "Joseph" back in 2010 when he was a junior in high school and he has grown into a mature vocalist and performer in a very short time.
David L. Jiles, Jr. is dynamic in the role of Judas. He displays his powerhouse tenor voice and range in "Heaven on Their Minds", "Damned for All Time", "Blood Money" and "Judas' Death." The latter number is a troubling song about Judas' suicide. Zoe and Jordie show him hanging himself in the darkness which sends chills up your spine. David also excels in the "Superstar" number where he sings and dances up a storm with the dancing chorus which stops the show with its powerhouse rendition. He and Brendan are fantastic as adversaries. Caitlin Ford is fabulous as Mary Magdalene. She has a superb soprano voice which she displays in "Everything's Alright", where Mary tries to soothe Jesus after a trying day, the powerful and poignant ballad "I Don't Know How to Love Him" where she confronts her hidden feelings for him and the rousing emotionally charged duet with Peter called "Could We Start Again, Please".
Ryan Barrow who has a topnotch tenor voice plays Peter. He and Caitlin do an excellent job with their duet.Ryan also handles "Peter's Denial" with flair. Simon Zealotes is excellently played by Sam Patch who displays his strong singing voice in the "Simon Zealotes" number with the chorus. They do a marvelous dance number during it that stops the show. I last reviewed Sam in "The Full Monty" where he played Ethan. Pilate is fantastically played by Matt Maggio. He has a magnificent and powerful tenor voice. His first number is the mellow "Pilate's Dream" while the others are more upbeat rock numbers "Pilate and Christ" and "Trial by Pilate" where he soars off the scale with a high B flat.Matt was also superb in "Full Monty" as Malcom. A comic turn in the show is provided by John King as Herod. He sings "Herod's Song" and dances a Charleston and a kick line to it with his back up dancers. The villainous high priests, Caiaphas and Annas are well played by Chris Hagberg and James Valentin with Chris Joseffy as their fellow priest . They have wonderful bass, tenor and baritone voices and are truly a menacing presence in the show. The apostles and chorus deliver the finishing touches to this emotion packed show. I have many pleasant memories having played Herod back in 1988. So for a blockbuster hit and another stunning epic musical by Company Theatre, be sure to catch "Jesus Christ Superstar" before time runs out. Tell them Tony sent you. I have been reviewing shows here for almost twelve years and this is another feather in their caps!