The Malvern Theatre Society turns once again to Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice for inspiration for their spring musical. This year, it is Jesus Christ Superstar
, the rock opera that first appeared on Broadway in 1971, based very loosely on the Gospels’ account of the last week of Jesus’ life. The show will debut on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3, with additional shows on March 9 and 10.
The musical begins with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem, and ends with the crucifixion. It highlights political and interpersonal struggles between Judas Iscariot and Jesus, struggles that are not in the Bible. The resurrection is not included. It therefore largely follows the form of a traditional passion play. Twentieth-century attitudes and sensibilities as well as contemporary slang pervade the lyrics, and ironic allusions to modern life are scattered throughout the depiction of political events.
The cast features J. Christopher Smart as Jesus Christ, Joe Canuso as Judas Iscariot, Amanda Churchvarra as Mary Magdalene, Kyle Naser as Pontius Pilate, Andrew Stetser as King Herod, Anthony Abron as Caiaphas and Matt Anthony as Annas. The show is directed by Jim Fry.
It seems especially fitting that the first rock opera, created as a concept album at the end of the turbulent ‘60s, should have at its center a social and political rebel. Jesus’ meteor-like rise in renown provides, as the title suggests, a parallel to contemporary celebrity worship. As his radical teachings are evermore embraced, Judas increasingly questions the enlightened motives of this new prophet, resulting in betrayal. Christ’s final days are dramatized with emotional intensity, thought-provoking edge and explosive theatricality. Propelled by a stirring score, by turns driving and majestic, satirical and tender, Jesus Christ Superstar illuminates the transcendent power of the human spirit with a passion that goes straight to the heart.
Jesus Christ Superstar will be staged in the Duffy Arts Center at Malvern Prep on Friday and Saturday, March 2-3, and Friday and Saturday, March 9-10, at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $17 and are available at www.malvernprep.org/SpringMusical
The Malvern Theatre Society is an extracurricular activity that utilizes the talents of students from grades 6 through 12 from Malvern Prep, and high school girls from Villa Maria Academy in Malvern and the Academy of Notre Dame deNamur in Villanova. The company has staged more than 60 shows since 1976.