Culture Corner


Jesus Christ Superstar

March 9-April 1, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m., Pay what you can performance March 22, 7:30 p.m., Tacoma Little Theatre, 210 N. I St., Tacoma

“Jesus Christ Superstar,” directed by Lexi Barnett and musically directed by Leischen Moore, is the fifth show of Tacoma Little Theatre’s 99th season. The Andrew Lloyd Webber masterpiece fills the stage with music and dance.

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” is a 1970 rock opera with music by Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. The musical started as a concept album before its Broadway debut in 1971. The musical is sung-through, with no spoken dialogue. The story is loosely based on the Gospels’ accounts of the last week of Jesus’s life, beginning with the preparation for the arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem and ending with the crucifixion. It depicts political and interpersonal struggles between Judas Iscariot and Jesus that are not present in the Bible.

The songs were first written and conceived as a concept album, before the musical was created and staged. On the original album, the part of Jesus was sung by Ian Gillan, with Murray Head as Judas, Michael d’Abo as King Herod, Yvonne Elliman as Mary Magdalene, and Barry Dennen as Pilate.

The musical opened on Broadway in 1971. It starred Jeff Fenholt as Jesus, Ben Vereen as Judas and Bob Bingham as Caiaphas. Dennen and Elliman played the roles that they had sung on the album. The show closed on June 30, 1973 after 711 performances.

A film adaptation of “Jesus Christ Superstar” was released in 1973 and was the eighth highest-grossing film of that year. The film, directed by Norman Jewison, was shot in Israel and other Middle Eastern locations. Ted Neeley, Carl Anderson and Yvonne Elliman were each nominated for a Golden Globe Award for their portrayals of Jesus, Judas and Mary Magdalene, respectively. Bob Bingham (Caiaphas) and Barry Dennen (Pilate) also reprised their roles.

Tacoma Little Theatre’s production features:

Bruce Haasl as Jesus
Loucas T. Curry as Judas
Allie Milburn as Mary
Rico Lastrapes as Simon
Christopher Sweet as Peter
DuWayne Andrews Jr. as Pilate
Aleks Merilo as Caiaphas
Karen Christensen as Annas
Andrew Fry as Herod
James Klarich as Priest
Joseph Woodland as Priest
George McClure as Priest
Caiti Burke as Apostle/Soul Girl
Melanie Gladstone as Apostle/Soul Girl
Jill Heinecke as Aspotle/Soul Girl
Jaden Downing as Apostle
Carl Frank as Apostle
Sydney Lenoch as Apostle
Shauntal Pyper as Apostle
Mary Thornton as Apostle
Barrett Vandiver as Apostle
Madison Watkins as Apostle
Randon Welch as Apostle
Julia Wyman as Apostle

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