JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
In June 2006, New Line presented an all new, more intimate, more contemporary, more political take on one of the greatest of all rock operas, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's thrilling, ambitious JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. New Line's production allowed audiences to see and understand this story like never before, up close and personal in our in-the-round staging, and returning at long last to Rice and Lloyd Webber's original intentions for the piece. This is not a religious story (as lyricist Tim Rice has said in many, many interviews) and it's not a story about Christ's suffering or whether or not he was divine (Rice did not believe he was). This is a story, told from Judas' point of view, about Jesus as a subversive political activist and the brutal and terrified response of the authorities...
This is the musical that rocked the world, that prompted boycotts, picketing, bomb threats, and letter writing campaigns all over America, the musical that dared to recount the "Greatest Story Ever Told" in the earthiest, most democratic, most populist language of all -- rock and roll. The kick-ass score features classics like "Superstar," "I Don't Know How to Love Him," "Everything's Alright," and "Heaven On Their Minds."
The New Line cast included John Sparger (Judas/Jesus), Khnemu Menu-Ra (Judas/Jesus), Kimi Short (Mary), Aaron Allen, Sarah Armstrong, Kiné Brown, Christopher “Zany” Clark, Kevin Collier, Joy Ducree, Joseph Garner, Charles Glenn, Alison Helmer, Ember Hyde, Adam Leong, Uchenna Ogu, B.C. Stands, and Scott Tripp. The show was directed by Scott Miller with choreography by Robin Michelle Berger and fight choreography by Nick Kelly, and with a set by Todd Schaefer, costumes by Thom Crain, and sound and lighting design by Florian Staab.
See Charles Glenn's brilliant star turn as a very different kind of King Herod...
Superstar focuses on Jesus' role as political activist and challenger of the religious and political status quo, with clear parallels to the hippie movements of the 1960s and the growing political unrest in America today. Just as it was when the show first premiered, many Americans in 2006 are moving away from organized religion and toward more personal spirituality and philosophy. In the early 1970s, American youth saw that mainstream religions had reduced religious experience, the act of living through faith, to nothing more than symbols and metaphors, subverting and short-circuiting the personal religious experience itself. They believed that mainstream religious traditions and rituals got in the way of true faith and the search for ultimate truths. The same thing is happening today, as church attendance decreases in America and more and more Americans search for something more. Today, Superstar doesn't seem as controversial because too many productions have shoehorned religion back into the show against its creators' wishes. And today the show might seem positively mainstream in its use of rock and roll, which is now the music of adults. But imagine the uproar if the Catholic church began allowing gangsta rap as part of the liturgy. It was a very ballsy choice at the time...
New Line's Superstar
to explore more? We recommend:
The website FaithfulAmerica.org -- the kind of grassroots political organization that the Jesus of Jesus Christ Superstar would be a part of...
A History of Political Theatre webpage
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