MISCELLANEOUS THEATRE PRODUCTIONS



The cast of Jesus Christ Superstar during it's 4+-year tour.
Photo courtesy of Debbie Spykerman (spyk002@aol.com)

 

After many requests from the Italian Contingent of our "Ted Family", Ted has finally complied and booked a production of JCS in ROME ITALY, in which Ted will play Jesus from April 18-May 4, 2014!!! See info on where to get tickets below:

UPDATE 12/31/13 - FROM TED'S FACEBOOK PAGE



http://www.ilsistina.it/event/jesus-christ-superstar-xx-anniversario/




***

 

Here's an article on Glenn Carter and the aliens from the Edinburgh Evening News/Scottsman website.  Could this be why the emotion was so lacking between Jesus and Judas in that particular production, ALW?
       BTW, just couldn't resist putting my own comments into the article (they're the ones in red italics)

       http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/whatson.cfm?id=130562005

Edinburgh Evening News

 Edinburgh Evening News Online

What's On

Edinburgh Evening News
Thu 3 Feb 2005

Glenn Carter in the 
lead role in Rice and 
Lloyd Webber’s hit 
musical, Jesus Christ 
Superstar.
Picture: JEREMY 
STOCKTON
They came from outer space

LIAM RUDDEN

HEADING the Raelian Movement has its challenges, but it is a vocational thing.

"I had no aspirations to be in charge here. We do not believe in a God, a heaven or a hell. Neither do we believe in evolution. We are created by a race of beings who are not unlike us," explains actor Glenn Carter . . .

Who arrives in the Capital next week to star in a two-week run of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Festival Theatre.

It is an unexpected belief for an actor who has carved a niche for himself playing religious roles.

He has appeared as Jesus in a number of productions of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s biblical rock opera, as well as playing the Messianic figure at the centre of Whistle Down The Wind and the title role in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Yet as the British head of the Raelian Movement, Carter follows a cult founded by French journalist Claude Vorilhon in 1973, after he claimed to have met aliens who revealed the truth about the beginnings of the human race to him.

He was told that life was created 25,000 years ago in an alien laboratory and that Jesus was resurrected using an "advanced cloning technique".

Carter’s ideology is further supported, he claims, by research he did when he was first cast as Jesus. It included reading parts of the bible and other religious texts as well as exploring alternative beliefs about who Jesus was.

"One of the most revealing things I discovered was that the word God, which we read in the Christian bible, didn’t exist in the original Hebrew," he says. "In bibles that we buy in the shops here, it says that God created the world in seven days. In the original Hebrew it doesn’t say God. The word Elohim is used.

"The Jews, in their wisdom, decided not to allow Elohim to be translated, originally from Hebrew to Greek and then to Latin. So they replaced it by the symbol G dash D [g-d] which, for want of a better phrase, meant ‘refer to original text’.

"When it was then translated hundreds of years later from Latin and Greek into European languages they didn’t know what G-D meant, so they put an o in there.

"But Elohim, translated directly from Hebrew to English, means ‘those who came from the sky’, so it was a huge discovery to find that God was a plural in the Jewish bible not a singular."

Although Elohim is accepted as a plural, not all academics agree on the translation Carter cites, many suggesting it to be no more than the first person plural, as in the Royal ‘we’.

Carter’s Raelian background is also, perhaps, the reason why the actor is not over-awed by the religious significance the man he is playing holds for millions of Christians around the world.

"As an atheist who believes in Jesus as a historical prophet, playing him on stage is just like playing any other role.

"You have to put your whole self into any role. You can’t remain balanced in your head if you start thinking Jesus is a special part. I don’t, as an actor, carry around 2000 years of Christian history - I don’t bear the responsibility of playing an iconic character, I just play the person. It’s the same as if I was playing a murderer. I wouldn’t have to experience murdering someone to associate myself with people who have murdered. You have to be able to put yourself in the situation of the character and not carry around that weight of: ‘Wow this a hugely important part for many people.’ "

Carter follows in a long trend of casting larger-than-life actors in the role of Jesus. Ever since HB Warner in Cecil B DeMille’s 1927 movie The King of Kings, each generation has had its own iconic saviour.

In the 50s it was the Donald C Klune, the non-speaking, uncredited Jesus in the biblical epic The Robe. A decade later it was Jeffrey Hunter in the 1961 remake of King of Kings, while in the 1973 movie Jesus Christ Superstar, Ted Neeley gave the role a psychedelic twist. (Maybe it's me - but I think that was Hair - wasn't it?)

Robert Powell followed as a more reverential Jesus of Nazareth in 1977 before Willem Dafoe more controversially donned the mantle 11 years later in The Last Temptation of Christ.

Most recently Jim Caviezel made a bloodied and somewhat gory messiah in Mel Gibson’s Passion Of The Christ.

All have their own fanbase, as does Carter, who has now played the role on and off for nine years.

"I played it for six months in 1997," recalls the softly spoken 40-year-old, whose long, wavy curls make him a natural choice for the part. (Well, there goes the age argument for ALW - particularly the way he explained it as being the reason for the choice of Butler over Crawford in the new Phantom movie! (Of course, as a "more experienced" actor, shall we say, I usually salute directors who have the guts/courage to think outside the age box.))

"That production was very brutal, it was more like the Mel Gibson film. The way they have staged it this time is slightly more geared towards families, it’s less focused on the brutality of the way Jesus died and more on the way that he lived."  (Ummmm ... and the Ted/Carl production was NOT?)

Jesus Christ Superstar exploded onto the musical scene in 1971 - stunning audiences and changing the face of musical theatre forever. It tells the story of the last seven days in the life of Jesus through a ground-breaking score that features some of musical theatre’s most captivating songs, including Gethsemane - "The greatest musical number ever written for a male lead," insists Carter - and, of course the playground favourite, Superstar.

And while Carter has also appeared in Les Misérables, Grease and Chess, it’s to the role of Jesus he continues to return - although perhaps not for much longer, as he reveals that the physical demands of the show are taking their toll.

"The other productions of Jesus Christ Superstar I have done were physically harder than this one. When I was asked to play this part again the only thing that came close to stopping me doing it was the physical toll it takes because I get flung onto the floor a lot.

"I constantly have a bad back, bad knees. Doing it once isn’t difficult, but doing it now close to 180 times and being thrown to the floor ten times a show . . . you get a lot of impact on your body. It’s the nature of the part."  (Hohoho - tell it to Ted who's done it now for HOW many YEARS - almost 5 of which were between the ages of 48-53!!! (Oops - sorry, Ted - we know you're really only 33!) 
Now - what was it Ted said in the DVD Commentary? - "...over 2,000 performances in the Anniversary Tour alone."  OHHHH  PULEASSSSE!!!)

Carter admits that there’s now a limit to length of time he’s willing to take on such a demanding role - a good reason not to miss Jesus Christ Superstar at the Festival Theatre over the next two weeks.  (***SIGH*** A limit? Time was when you got "the part of your life", you played it as long as you possibly could. Ted certainly knows about that, doesn't he?)

• Jesus Christ Superstar, Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Nicolson Street, Tuesday-February 19 (not Sundays), 7.30pm (Thursday and Saturday matinees 2.30pm), £10-£29.50, 0131-529 6000



From Barry Dennen's Facebook page today (1/9/16), we have this terrific rehearsal shot from the original NYC Production of Superstar in 1972:

Here's an interesting snot of a "young Jesus understudy" from the early JCS B'way days:


Linda found this photo at the following URL:
http://www.orlok.com/hair/holding/photographs/hair/PhotosNYTMag1-2-72.html
Initially, the photo was part of the Tom O'Horgan Interview - 
The New York Times Sunday Magazine
January 2, 1972

THE CAPTION:  
Rehearsal for Jesus Christ Superstar with Jesus understudy, and Hair alum, Teddy Neeley.

Two more shots of "the Understudy" - these are part of Rita's contribution (noted below).

 

AND FINALLY...I do want to make mention of the new JCS production,that toured the U in 2004. While it is not a popular item for most of the Ted-List members, and/or most folks looking at this site, I want to include a local review by Keith Joseph of the Free Times, as well as my own thoughts on that production, since both support the far-reaching longevity of the quality and the memories of Ted and Carl's tour.  One BIG clue with Keith's reviews, he has a one line title for each review on the Free Times Table of Contents page.  For this review?  Three words:  OH, MY LORD!  Have a look:

 

Our local Free Times reviewed the new tour in the 4/21-27/04 issue.
     See the review below - and pay attention to the FINAL PARAGRAPH:

http://www.freetimes.com/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1380


CLEVELAND FREE TIMES
Punk Passion Play 
Updating Jesus Christ Superstar is sheer blasphemy

By Keith A. Joseph 
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
 


FOR THE LOVE OF GOD
Natalie Toro and Eric Kunze.

IT'S NO SURPRISE that the two most colorful riffs on the Good Book were wrought by show-biz scribes. It's 1956, and we find Anne Baxter as the breathy royal Egyptian minx Nefertiti (inexplicably ignored by the Old Testament), vamping her recalcitrant, newly holified ex-boyfriend with, “Moses, Moses, you adorable fool.” Now, flash forward to 1971 A.D: a confused gaggle of Birkenstock apostles are inquiring into the antics of their naughty leader with, “What's a-buzz, tell me what's a-happening.”

Jesus Christ Superstar
Through April 25
Palace Theatre
1501 Euclid Ave.
216.241.6000

Cecil B. De Mille's The Ten Commandments and Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar share a propensity for canny self-mockery and outrageous piety. De Mille's final film is a culmination of his recipe for raging hormones and raging prophets. The aforementioned musical is an even more mercurial triumph: a schmaltzy, old-fashioned show piece trying to disguise itself as a rock musical, and the passion play told as a flower-child parable.

The show follows the same team's grade-school-pageant rewrite of the Old Testament known as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Joseph 's caffeinated bedtime Bible story was put together with pop building blocks, ranging from a mock pharaoh Elvis to Hebrew hoedown and ersatz French apache dancing.

To create Superstar, Lloyd Webber and Rice took the same concept, darkened it and tied it to a superb metaphor: Jesus as a reluctant celebrity, succumbing to his painful destiny — the martyrdom of stardom — and subsequently pissing off the establishment, which in this case is embodied as Pharisees portrayed as baritone Nixons. This concept renders the story sociopolitical rather than religious, and keeps it blessedly free of the sadomasochistic bathos and anti-Semitism that plagues Mel Gibson's The Passion .

Christening it a rock opera is a misnomer, for behind the few electric guitar licks and wails, the score is theatrical ambrosia, embracing soft shoe and torch numbers and, for Christ, an aria of self-exploration reminiscent of Billy Bigelow's great Carousel “Soliloquy.” And Tim Rice's lyrics are open-hearted, tongue-in-cheek and powerfully colloquial: “God, thy will is hard, but you hold every card.”

After 33 years, the show remains amazingly funny, affecting and original. It has none of the derivative kitsch and over-inflation that would mark the collaborators' subsequent work, together and apart. Like Hair, it remains a melodic time capsule and a perfect reminder of the romance of flower-child rebellion.

The work has proved indomitable. It has stood up to the worst abuses bestowed in church basements and high-school auditoriums, and it even stands up to the soulless, synthetic, industrial-show feel of this present tour edition.

The first insanity is trying to update the piece with a punk-rock façade of pierced nipples and spiked hair, which is fatally incongruent with the '60s ethos of the show. Everything about the production is effect for effect's sake, including a Guys and Dolls -like temple scene with pinstripe suits and rolling dice, various Stars of David covered with swastikas, Darth Vader centurions, choreography redolent of a Gap commercial, and characters who don't seem to acknowledge one another's existence. Director Kevin Moriarty and choreographer Dana Solimando have obviously not gotten over the breakfast-cereal commercials of their childhood.

As the eponymous JC, Eric Kunze is every inch the romantic leading man — and that's the problem. What would be perfect for a road company of The Pajama Game is disastrous for a pop-rock Messiah. He plays his Savior with a toothpaste smile, a booming tenor and a washboard stomach that looks fetching on the cross. Missing, however, is any shred of tenderness, vulnerability or pathos.

Lawrence Clayton's well-fed, overage Judas speaks more of Republicans at a picnic than tortured betrayer at the Last Supper. One thing one can say about Natalie Toro's voluptuous Mary Magdalene is that it's an original take — Betty Boop in Jerusalem. Playing King Herod as Daddy Warbucks, Barry Dennen at least gives the evening some misguided laughs.

If you've never seen Jesus Christ Superstar live, this benighted production may give you a vague sense of its former glory. However, if you prefer to see it done brilliantly, rent Norman Jewison's superb film edition. I know it would be the perfect curative for the dispirited audience member who could be heard wistfully commenting, “Where are the bell-bottoms?”

NOTEI've been told by a very reliable source that this show is losing money on the road, and they have resorted to certain requests I will not get into here in order to recoup their earnings.  One request was not granted, fortunately, even though granting it would ultimately have forced this show to close.  Well, I guess Lloyd Webber will never learn, will he?  Here, also, are my thoughts on this show, as posted to Ted's list today (4/26/04) for the 4/25/04 JCS matinee in Cleveland, Ohio:

Hi Everyone,

I took in a matinee of JCS today in Cleveland. Let me preface this e-mail by saying it’s NOT meant to be “bossy”, or to force my opinionsn anyone who may have enjoyed this show, or to say that they are right or wrong. But, for those who have yet to see the new show, I am posting this to let everyone know what they are in for, and what I experienced today. Yes, I, like everyone on this list, am a Ted/Carl “purist” when it comes to JCS, but I tried to be objective and view this show on its' own merits, for what it was. Now, as often happens with me, this e-mail will probably be very long. Usually I say skip around and read what you want to first. I hope, though, for this e-mail, that you will eventually read everything I write here. And I thank everyone for their patience with my long-windedness. That said, below are my thoughts on this production.

As you have probably seen, I posted Keith Joseph’s review on this show from our Free Times paper this week, and, while Keith can have a tendency to get ornery, in this case, I think he TRULY hit the nail on the head in a LOT of areas.

The BIGGEST objection I had with this show is that it seems COMPLETELY devoid of any TRUE emotion between any of the characters. The ONE thing I could ALWAYS say about Ted and Carl (and this was the case even in 1973 – when they’d only been doing JCS for 1 year) was that there was evidence of real AFFECTION and emotion between the characters they portrayed. (Yes, it was true offstage as well, but ANY good actor can do this – even if they hate the person they are performing with. – If any of you saw “An Officer And A Gentleman” – you would SWEAR that Debra Winger’s character TRULY loved Richard Gere’s character. She once said in an interview that she actually hated Gere. So she let that emotion overflow and used it to seem like love, when it actually was hate, so it IS done.). I did not honestly ONCE feel that Lawrence Clayton and Eric Kunze really cared for each other as Jesus and Judas. I did feel that Mary cared for Jesus. Natalie Toro, who played Mary, for me, was one of the few bright spots in the show. More on her later.

The other thing that I found odd is that Clayton looks twice the age of the other actors onstage. It was like watching the lone adult with all the children. Like seeing Jesus and his “Father”. Very odd. True, Carl would have looked older than Clayton too, but Carl, being the definitive Judas, probably did enough for the audience not to be so aware of this while he was still in the show. Clayton tries to suggest a similarity to Carl, but, at least for those of us who saw Carl, he doesn't really succeed, and his looking so old, made Kunze seem even younger. Granted, Christ was only 33 when this happened, but next to Clayton, Kunze looked almost like a teenager. He just seemed too young. Okay, Ted was 53 when he last did this role, and Carl was 51 the last time he and Ted were onstage together. Both chronologically were WAY past the “correct” ages, but we could buy it for 2 reasons: 1. Both were close to the same age, and were the major relationship in the show being concentrated on, so the age thing wasn’t so daunting; 2. Ted and Carl inhabited the roles, not just acted them, and this can give an actor and audience member a HUGE boost in acceptance. Without any of this, the look, age-wise, of Kunze and Clayton together just seems weird, and doesn’t help with anyone excepting the Judas/Jesus relationship, particularly when the actors themselves seem so devoid of the emotion for each other in their character portrayals. In “The Last Supper”, they actually almost sparred during the “who-will-betray-me” sequence. Shouldn't that be more about Judas not wanting to do it and Jesus saying do it, rather than the two of them looking like Ali and Frazier incarnate?

A second objection I have with this show is the pace. It is just TOO FAST. Part of the blame for the lack of general emotional connection could be the pace of this show. It was so fast that the show, which started at 1:40PM, was down by 3:30PM – and that INCLUDED a 20-minute intermission. WHAT time does THAT kind of pace leave for any moments to be taken at ALL? Scenes barely even ended before the next scene began. At the end of the Temple scene, Kunze threw everyone out, rolled over – and there was Torino singing the “Everything’s Alright” reprise already. How about a second to breathe for Mary to GET TO THE TEMPLE AND JESUS? Not in THIS show. How about giving Judas and Jesus two seconds' break in the betrayal scene at Gethsemane? Nope – the Priests are already grabbing Christ the minute he’s kissed. This pace DOES NOT ALLOW for any moment in the show to be completed, if it is ever BEGUN. I remember seeing a local production of West Side Story here a few summers ago, by one of the most respected directors we have in this area. This woman almost NEVER makes a mistake. The pace in this show was RIDICULOUSLY fast. By the time the actor playing Tony was singing the beginning of “Somewhere” – a tender ballad – like a bat-out-of-hell, I literally said out loud: “Can we PLEASE SLOW DOWN for a minute?!” People were heard walking out of this show saying: “I’m absolutely exhausted.” Now – while JCS wasn’t QUITE that fast, it was still too fast-paced to really take advantage of many subtle things and moments the actors COULD have had. Regardless, though, SOMETHING should come through if an actor is doing his/her job correctly, and, in the case of Kunze and Clayton, the absence of this was horribly disappointing to me, and, takes the whole base of the show away, which makes it virtually impossible to work on this level.

A third objection I have – and actually this made me angrier than anything else I saw today – is that, if I could, I would have SHOT the Musical Director. Really. There is a thing called a PHRASE*. I don’t honestly think any of the actors on that stage have the slightest idea what that word means – consistently. There is a HUGE difference between singing words and notes and singing lyrics and phrases. Lawson Skala (Caiaphas), particularly, should be faulted for this. For GODSSAKES – when you have a phrase like: “Ah, Gentlemen, you know why we are here. We’ve not much time, and quite a problem here.” You do not sing it like “AH – GEN – TLE – MEN – YOU KNOW – WHY – WE – ARE – HERE – WE’VE – NOT – MUCH – TIME – AND QUITE – A PROB – LEM – HERE.” (as if to make sure you hit EVERY SINGLE NOTE like, what we in theatre call your “money note” – which you hit and hold AS LONG AS YOU CAN –to make sure everyone hears it.). Skala not only hit 90% of his notes like a money note, he also dragged out tempos to hang onto these notes as long as he could. If the Music Director, Craig Barna, actually directed him to do that – then it is totally DEPLORABLE! If, he didn’t, and has not put a stop to it – it’s irresponsible. Either way, Barna should be shot. Skala is not the only actor in the show who does this constantly, but he sticks out most in my mind. Stephen Breithaupt (Pilate) was also guilty of this in the Pilate’s Dream sequence. Barry Dennen, in the film was much more subtle and under-spoken, but the famous acting phrase: “less is more” is COMPLETELY ignored in this show. Generally, the actors were so busy making sure EVERY SINGLE NOTE was sung, they missed the point on singing a phrase. Sometimes a word needs to be spoken, you know? I’ve never understood some of these Musical Directors who are so concerned that every note written has to be sung. The result suffers from it. But, maybe it’s just me. The other fault to this lies with the Director, Kevin Moriarty. If the Music Director doesn’t run herd over these kinds of shenanigans, then the Director should put a stop to them. Both Directors DEFINITELY dropped the ball on this issue. And the show suffers a lot because of it.

*(NOTE: I have since received some information from a very reliable source that the choices in phrasing and in some of the musical direction of this production may not have been choices that the Director and Musical Director were at liberty to make, but were, in fact, choices forced upon them by ALW.  What a surprise.  I guess it's not a surprise for me at all - and if I was incorrect about the people responsible for the way certain performances were done, this is my "retraction" for that.  On a further note, since I first wrote my responses to this production, I had the opportunity to work with Craig Barna as our Music Director for the JCS YTA Benefit 8/13/06, and he, in fact, is a very thorough director, who, while leaving room for some creativity by an actor, does not hesitate to correct an actor going in the "wrong" direction. Case in point: he told some "Leper" soloists countless times that the word was 'BE-lieve' - not 'BA-leave', so I don't see him being the reason so many of these choices were wrong.)

I am not sure I agree with some of the staging of certain key sequences. Two of the highlights from the Neeley/Anderson tour were Judas’ hanging and Jesus’ crucifixion. In this production, for the hanging sequence, a noose does come down, but there is no tree anywhere. This is followed by a blackout. You never see Judas hang. It is during the hanging that the actors are surrounding Kunze and putting him on the cross for the crucifixion scene. But it’s such a mess of people; I wasn’t sure what was going on. I think, during this, the noose did come down like someone had hung himself – but it was so dark onstage, it was impossible to tell definitively if that’s what actually happened.

The Crucifixion was also problematic. Kunze was tied to the cross inthe dark, and then the cast proceeded to LIFT THE CROSS UP and put it in some kind of holder. The thing was very long and big, and awkward, and they had a tough time getting the cross and Kunze in place. Also, because of the way it was placed, when Kunze actually died, he bounced back and hit the cross and the thing proceeded to act like it was swinging slightly. When Ted was crucified, the cross came up by itself with him on it. No awkwardness, no swinging. The Crucifixion is also done in total background silence. You don’t hear anyone crying, or moving, just Kunze talking. The concept album did a brilliant thing with this sequence that would have worked perfectly in a show that is, in some ways, incredibly avant-garde. For those who don’t know this, the album used background sounds as Christ’s bodily functions during his crucifixion. For example, they used the drum for his heartbeat, and things of this nature. When he died all the sounds stopped suddenly. The silence wasn’t horrible, just weird. And Kunze, though he is, in general, a good actor, without all the emotion and, as our local reviewer says: missing any shred of tenderness, vulnerability or pathos, does not really carry enough punch for anyone below him onstage to really be transported. It’s mostly about his struggling to breathe while dying. Very strange. Ted, also did the struggling breathing thing, but he did a lot of other things too. AND, here’s the big thing. Ted, as those of us who saw the show countless times know, floated off the cross during John 19:41. Kunze not only DOES NOT do this – but what transpires is very weird, indeed! During John 19:41, the company takes 3 ladders and leans them on the cross. They climb up, untie Kunze and one places him over his shoulder, then takes him down to the floor and puts him down – and Kunze just lies there with Mary sitting with him and Judas leaning on the cross behind them (JUDAS?!!! Gee – isn’t he ALREADY DEAD?). (I SWEAR, I half expected Torino to pull out a gun and start quoting Maria’s West Side Story lines when Tony dies and she’s sitting with his corpse: “Stay back! How do you fire this gun, Chino? Just by pulling this little trigger?”) Then everyone leaves except Mary, Jesus and Judas. No resurrection at all. You just see the lights go down, then the cast reappears in the dark (you see candles) and you hear “Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, who are you what have you sacrificed?” and then the lights come up and it’s curtain call time. A VERY WEIRD and UNFULFILLING ending to a bizarre production.

Generally, the voices of the actors were very good, particularlyNatalie Torino, as Mary. Kunze and Clayton have good voices as well. Clayton’s Superstar was very good. He does have an excellent range. Kunze also is a very accomplished singer, however, as Mark said to me once, singing certain notes just because they are written – such as the “SEE HOW I DIE” line in Gethsemane, just because EVERY OTHER JESUS sings that high, comes across, again, as an actor singing NOTES – not lyrics. There has to be a REASON you’re singing that phrase high. It has to COME from SOMEWHERE. We all know when Ted did this, it was a result of an emotion, NOT a note on a vocal book or score. Not with Kunze’s version. (Eric Kunze has a very impressive resume. It includes: “Les Miserables” (Marius), “Miss Saigon” (Chris), and “Pirates of Penzance”. To sing the lead roles in these shows, Kunze would HAVE to know this stuff. So, then, this has to be the fault of the Music Director and/or the Director. Or maybe all three of them. It should have never happened at all, if anyone was doing his job correctly.). Skala (Caiaphas) also has a very impressive voice, as does Stephen Breithaupt (Pilate). Incidentally, seeing Pilate as a Nazi Storm-Trooper did fit, but having the entire chorus take turns hitting Christ for the flogging was strange. Also strange was the casting choice for Annas (Jeffrey Polk). Skala is an extremely big and tall actor. Polk is very small. I am small, and I usually cheer using a small actor period, but Polk almost looks like a midget next to Skala. Every time I saw these two together onstage, I couldn’t help thinking of Mutt and Jeff, it almost made me laugh out loud, and that is not the desired effect anyone should have when looking at two of the most evilly-written actors in the script.

On a good note, seeing Barry Dennen onstage again was a highlight.While it was a little bizarre seeing the actor who originated the role of Pilate on both the concept and film albums, and portraying Pilate in the film, now playing the role of Herod, it was an interesting contrast. The Herod sequence was a nice break from the pace that would kill an army. Dennen may not have as powerful a voice as the rest of the leads did, but he DEFINITELY knew what a phase was, and how to sing and use one to his advantage. It’s too bad he couldn’t teach the “youngsters” about this aspect of performance.

There were some other staging choices that were odd, but did worksomewhat. The Temple scene was interesting. However, in 4BC, one would doubt the “Temple” would be a stock exchange, complete with a stock board that flashed things like VIAGRA +4%. When I saw that, I knew I’d seen just about EVERYTHING. The staging of Christ being beaten up in slow motion on the stage level while the rest of the cast sang “Could We Start Again, Please?” one floor above this was interesting, but that song should concentrate on Christ being missed and Mary and Peter, rather than a slow-motion beating, IMO. At least, though, it was watchable, and it was one of the few choices and moments that was actually played-out to completion during any sequence in this show. The Leper-healing sequence was well-staged, and the blue lighting used for the lepers was effective. However, when the same blue lighting was used on the priests, Caiaphas came off looking like a member of the Blue Man Group. I had to stifle a giggle there too. Also, the Hosanna and Herod sequences worked well, though the Herod sequence did border on a cross between Busby Berkeley and The Producers “I Wanna Be A Producer” sequence. And, as Keith Joseph (our local reviewer) did say, most of the choreography was reminiscent of a Gap commercial.

I suppose that for an audience member who has never seen Jesus ChristSuperstar in any other incarnation, including the recent Broadway revival, this production could be a good evening’s entertainment. But for anyone who was lucky enough to see Ted and Carl perform in the 5-year tour, or who saw the 1973 film, it will ultimately be a disappointment. The only thing that could have made it harder for me to enjoy this show would have been if Sebastian Bach had still been portraying Jesus and high-fiving everyone at the curtain call. The most mystifying thing for me is why Andrew Lloyd Webber thought this production was a good representation of what Jesus Christ Superstar is in the first place. Constantly, as I was watching this show, I found myself saying to myself – sometimes even aloud, “What WAS that man THINKING?” But then, the man who forced the closing-down of a 5-year successful tour packing audiences in from coast-to-coast, producing gross incomes approaching $100 MILLION DOLLARS,  and making sure his work was being seen and heard in order to open a slick, heartless, piece of showmanship, almost completely devoid of emotion, has got to have a screw loose SOMEWHERE. This production is less emotional than what I’ve seen of the recent Broadway revival and the 2000 video. So, obviously Lloyd Webber has now not only had a screw loose somewhere, I think the screw is either stripped or gone. It’s a real shame, because with the right direction, this cast has the potential to do a MUCH MORE credible and believable job than they exhibit in this show. That they don’t, is the biggest shame of all.



CARL'S PRODUCTION IN ITALY



Per Mari, photo courtesy of:  www.arturovillone.it/foto/jcs/art_jcs_foto_01.htm
and: 
art@arturovillone.it




This wallpaper was sent to me by Rita, but created by Mark Ellison (ozmarky@bigpond.net.au) (alias "Mark From Oz"), our first Australian "Ted Family" member.

 





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