SANTA BARBARA COUNTY BOWL - 1976

 

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


UPDATE 12/15/04:

A little while back I was asked when/if there had been an onstage production/reunion of JCS that included Ted, Carl and Yvonne after the film, but before the 25th Anniversary Tour.  Yes, there was. It ran September 10th (though due to rain it really opened September 12th) - October 3, 1976 at the
Santa Barbara County Bowl in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA.  And, thanks to Jenean Bugiada (jbugiada@yahoo.com), who I had the pleasure of meeting when Ted introduced us at BeckettFest this Fall, we have these 7 pictures, both onstage and off, from that production.  Jenean has graciously allowed me to post her pictures here for all to see.  (GOD - they look so YOUNG!  LOL!)  Jenean also has some wonderful stories of that production, (so e-mail her and see what she has to say), and two of these stories are posted below!  Thanks, Jenean!

UPDATE 3/3/05:

Two new shots from Jenean, along with a message below:



NOTE: Here is Yvonne onstage with Ted. According to Jenean, Yvonne only did one weekend of performances in the show.



3/3/05 - Memory Two

Greetings:

Since it is Easter season (2005), I thought I’d tell stories that revolved around our Crucifixion scene in the 1976 production of Jesus Christ Superstar at the Santa Barbara County Bowl in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA. The Bowl is an outdoor theatre that seats around 4,000 people. It’s usually used for concerts and really beautiful because it is made of rocks and wood with many trees all around to give that woodsy feel. The stone made for a wonderful setting that matched the set. The dates of the performances were September 10th - October 3rd, 1976. They were only weekend performances, 3 performances a week. Attached, I have included a couple of photos that you might like. One is a photo of Ted on the cross. It came out really well and I saved it just for this time of year. The other is of Yvonne when she appeared the one weekend with us. It was the last time she ever performed with Ted and Carl on stage in the show.

Anyway, the Crucifixion story I’m going to tell is mostly out of a journal I wrote about a year later. In it, I wrote out many experiences of JCS. I would never have remembered all the things written below if I hadn’t written them down back then.

It all started just before we opened. We never got to rehearse the Crucifixion scene during most of rehearsal. We started to block it once, but it got too dark and we had no lights on stage yet. Remember, we were outdoors, so our director Gary Goddard stopped the rehearsal. It was only explained to us in words what we were going to do. We had a large 16-foot high platform that had stairs and ramps on it. At the top was where the cross would be. There was a ladder that Ted would climb during the JC Superstar number.

Finally, it was full dress rehearsal and run through. I believe it was 2 days before opening night. I was a dancer in the Superstar number and had on this white jump suit with feather boas for sleeves. Those sleeves were interesting. One time, another dancer named Cindy started chocking on a feather. She was coughing away. Gary ran all the way down from the top of the “Santa Barbara County Bowl”. Cindy managed to get the feather out. The rest of us dancers kept dancing around her. Carl ran up to her and put his arms around her stomach and punched it in to make her belch it up! (Can’t spell the name of the maneuver - you know what I’m talking about). (NOTE: Heimlich)

Anyway, after the number, Gary yelled, "keep going". So everyone, remembering what we were told to do, started drudging up the 16-foot platform to where Ted was on the cross. We crawled in slow motion moaning and groaning all the way up. I remember that I was really in a bad mood. Some things weren't going well for me at the time and I blew the "Superstar" dance. I was also mad because I was crawling up that dirty platform in my white costume. All the way up I was saying to myself, "I can't do this scene in this costume." I was definitely NOT in character! Nor was I ever thinking about how I should feel or about getting into the scene. All of a sudden, I was at the top of the platform. I looked up and there was Teddy on the cross! The formation of the lights and seeing Ted SHOCKED me into the scene. I forgot about everything else. All I could think about was what I saw. I don't remember, at that moment, being ever more into anything in a performance as much in my life as I was into that! All of a sudden everything I had bottled up inside me burst, and I started crying like I hadn't cried in years!

I was really embarrassed after I burst into tears. I realized I couldn’t control myself. I hid my face on top of another cast member’s leg. Her name was Janelle. I heard everyone around me crying, but for some reason, I thought they were just faking! I especially remember the loud sobs of Roger. I really thought they were all fakes! I kept my head down with my tears dripping on Janelle’s leg. Every once in awhile I’d peek up to see if anyone else was really crying like me, but I couldn’t tell for sure. Everyone was crouched in balls all around on top of each other because there wasn’t much room. Some were kneeling, but I couldn’t see their faces because they had their backs to me facing Ted/Jesus. I’d peek at Ted and hid my face again crying. Ted was so real up there! Even to this day, except from an actor in a movie, I have never “in real life,” heard grown men sobbing! Women were crying also, but I expect it from women. But the guys! Out loud!! Louder than the women!!! So I thought they were all just acting.

After the Crucifixion scene came “John Nineteen Forty-One”, but all too soon it was over and then came the curtain call music. We still hadn’t blocked the curtain call. All of us, in the mean time, were still up on top of the platform shaken from what we had all just experienced. We couldn’t move. I still couldn’t control myself and was still crying! I kept my head down till someone (I think Janelle) asked me if I was all right. Embarrassed, I looked up and saw that everyone else had been crying as much as I had. Even the guys! Roger had definitely NOT been faking! Everyone had red swollen eyes. Gary ran up to us for at least 15 minutes asking us if we were OK. It was hard for Roger and he asked me if I would sit with him while we listened to our directions after we all finally got down off the platform. I couldn’t stop crying and many of the others couldn’t stop for a long time either. We just all sat around listening to Gary and Tony give us performance notes while we cried.

We didn’t have any fancy effects for getting Ted down off the cross. We weren’t that high-tech in those days. Getting off the platform always took awhile. Every night after “John Nineteen Forty-One” we all helped Ted down from the cross. Even doing that, he was still in character. Still with his head tilted and eyes closed, he would go limp and drop his arms. Then he would be lifted down. Then everyone crowded around him in a big huddle hugging everyone and trying to get over crying. I can’t imagine what Ted must feel when he does that scene. I’ll never forget what I felt. (As I type this, I am again starting to cry. It is really emotional to talk about this even after 28 years!) The feeling is always there when I remember back. The feeling was always there every time I did the scene. I cried many more times after that. But it was never as strong as it was that 1st time I did it. I can’t describe the feeling I experienced in words. The thoughts that would go through my mind were “No, No, Jesus.” It was like Ted really WAS Jesus. The expressions he had on his face were the perfect expressions that said so much, but yet I can’t define it. It was definitely much more powerful than the movie. When I watch the movie, it just isn’t the same experience.

The next day at rehearsal, I kind of wanted to talk about it, but NOBODY would. I remember some things Sarah said. She was our Mary Magdalene. She said, it took strong character (meaning “within” a person) to go through it. Someone who was mentally messed up would probably really break! She herself was doing some real soul searching because it was hard for her when she was into the character of Mary Magdalene to distinguish Ted from the real Christ! Then she said, I don’t really want to talk about it.

There was one guy who I always wondered about. I always feared for his life up on the platform. Janelle (who by now we called each other our crying partner) would always say hold onto him. For some reason he was always by the edge of the platform and always acted strange. I just never knew for sure if he was stoned or not. He actually went up to Gary and asked to be the one who whipped Jesus! He played one of the guards so Gary let him. He actually was a nice guy. I wonder whatever happened to him?

In general, it is an experience I will never forget as long as I live. It was one of the experiences that still draws me to be a big fan of Ted’s to this day. There really is something special about him though I can’t put my finger on exactly what it is about him that makes him so special. But in the weeks that we all got to spend with Ted, he was a wonderful person to work with. He would do most anything the director asked unless Ted felt that it was wrong for his character. Actually, that was never a problem, and he and Gary got along great. They still associate together to this day. Ted would always make it a point to be giving to the cast and made friends with everyone (including chorus). He made each person feel special. He was one of the kindest people I ever met and worked with in show business. He was always professional. I feel honored that I got to experience Superstar with him. There isn’t enough space to say all the kindnesses that he is.

After that 1st night the storm clouds started coming in over Santa Barbara. The next night was our final dress. There were rain predictions. We did a run through with everything. Everyone was crying at the end again. I remember that Gary called a meeting afterward. I had a girl out in the audience filming my home movies for me. She had taken movies for me before and did a pretty good job. Gary told us we were going to run part of the show again from a certain part to the end. We didn’t have to do it in costume unless we wanted to. I still had some film left, so I took more movies from the side in the wings. We never got to the end. All of a sudden it started to rain!

Quickly, Gary shut down rehearsal and told us to all go downstairs to the dressing rooms. All the crew started quickly to cover up all the lights and sound equipment with plastic. It soon started to thunder and lightning. It was dangerous for all the electrical equipment to get wet, and with all that metal scaffolding that towered higher than our 16-foot platform, one could easily get electrocuted. Downstairs we all waited for at least an hour talking and singing and listening to a barbershop group sing. When everything was covered up Gary & Tony came down to give us notes.

It poured rain the next day and we had to cancel our opening night performance at the outdoor amphitheatre. But Ted and Carl insisted on doing a performance that night. So, we sat up at Santa Barbara High School (which is next door to the Santa Barbara County Bowl) and gave a FREE concert version of the show. It was announced on the local radio stations and people with tickets were directed to come too. The concert was still effective and we all cried during the whipping scene and crucifixion. We had a full house even though the rain was coming down hard outside! We could hear the rain pounding on the ceiling as we performed. The audience loved us and went crazy!

It rained the next day too! We didn’t give any performance the 2nd day. I went to the movies that night. The 3rd day it rained again, but it stopped in time and we finally had our “opening night” performance at the County Bowl. Our poor producer Jack Nakano! Ticket sales had been going pretty good until the rain came. The day it rained made history in Santa Barbara. Jack said he checked back into Santa Barbara history records and it had not rained on those dates for something like 80 years! As far as anyone could remember, it never rained in Santa Barbara in September. And so, for most all of the rest of the run of the show all through September, it rained and rained. We didn’t cancel any more performances, fortunately, but it rained during the coming weeks in-between performances. That had an effect on ticket sales. When it was raining, nobody phoned in for tickets, but as soon as the sun came out, the phones would start ringing again. We added one more weekend of performances to make up to those ticket holders with cancelled tickets. That added weekend was October 1, 2, & 3, 1976. (It was exactly the same closing weekend as “Waiting for Godot” 28 years later when I went backstage to visit Ted in Ventura)!

There were nights we almost had to cancel in the middle of a performance. It was drizzling pretty hard. I remember slipping around on stage. The show was a great show, but the weather kept people away! I really felt sorry for people who came up from L.A. who got turned away. Sadly, our show lost money.

I don’t know what it is about crucifixion scenes that are done outdoors, but this seems to happen on a regular basis. (We can all start doing “Twilight Zone” music now! Do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do!) There is a neat story that goes along with the rain that Ted told us about while he was filming the movie. It is always depicted on movies that it storms after the real Jesus Christ died on the cross. Including Mel Gibson’s version. Though I’m not a very good Bible student, the Bible does mention events that happened at the moment of Christ’s death that include earthquakes and tombs opening up. When Ted was in Israel filming the movie, it was summer and it never rained EVER at that time of year. That’s what Ted was told. You can read the words in Cindi’s JCS site of the DVD film narration under “EPILOGUE (JOHN: 1941):

 

T. I - I just have to say one more thing. I just, when you said, "What are you thinking of right now?", I mean, there are so many images that are apparent in my spirit as a result of this experience. Do you remember all that we went through during the crucifixion, with the sudden weather change, and…

N. Yes.

T ... it hadn't rained in that country....

N. Right.

T ... forever, in that spot? And all of a sudden, it was gale-force winds, and overwhelming rain storms and you on the squawk box telling everybody to get out of here, because we didn't know what was gonna happen. And I'm stuck up - I'm up there on the cross! And then, I remember you tellin' - I hear - I hear you on that box, "Get him off of there! Get him down off of there!" And, you know, I never cried so much in my life, out of the emotional experience of this piece. And how, once we finally finished the crucifixion, how nurturing, and warm, and wonderfully supportive you were for me when I was falling apart after that.

 

In my journal I wrote that Ted told us they started filming the Crucifixion scene at night and all the next day it clouds up and starts raining almost as soon after they did the scene the 2nd time and it rained for 3 days. Just like it happened to us in Santa Barbara! But people were surprised about the rain in Israel, as it just never rained at that time of year. In fact, Ted pointed to some little tiny clouds in movie photos and said, “see, those were the last of the rain clouds.” Like I said, it hadn’t rained for years in Santa Barbara in September. Jack, our producer, had the documentation to prove it! We do the crucifixion scene the 1st time and all the next day it clouds up. Then we do it the 2nd time and boom!

The day of closing night October 3rd, was especially freaky. I was at home alone because my parents were up in Vancouver Canada. I was to join them the next day and travel with them after the show. They had the movie camera, darn it! I wish I had it to film the sight I saw. These powerful rain clouds started in Goleta (a suburb of Santa Barbara) and passed over slowly that afternoon down through town to Montecito (another burb at the other end of town). They poured super heavy rains down. I lived next to the ocean and I looked out my window toward the ocean and saw a sight I’ll never forget as long as I live! There was a funnel out over the ocean! A tornado on the ocean that is actually called a “waterspout”!! There was this county or city truck next to my house with weather watchers (sort of like “storm chasers”). They were keeping an eye on the spout. I don’t mind saying that I was freaked!!!! The waterspouts were in local photos and magazines for a number of years after that in the Santa Barbara area! My parents have lived in Santa Barbara for all these years and there has been some bad storms, but there has never since been waterspouts that I have heard about in Santa Barbara then.

Believe it or not, the rains stopped long enough for us to do our final performance!

The same thing happened to Mel Gibson when he was in Italy filming “The Passion” movie. Much of the rain you see at the crucifixion scene is real! Their Assistant Director got struck by lightning 2 times! The 1st time was while working on the Crucifixion scene. They dubbed this fellow a nickname “Lighting Boy”. A few months back I told everyone to go to a web site and listen to an interview that was recorded about his experiences of working on the film. You go to www.kfi640.com . Then click on the name Bill Handel. Then “Archives”. If you hold your mouse over the word “Archives” you see the word “Interviews”. Click on “Interviews” and then scroll way, way, waaaayyy down to an interview called “Meet Lightning Boy”. You click on the interview and you can listen to Bill Handel interview the man & hear his rain story.

I was also in Germany in 2000 where I went to see a play called The Oberammergau Passion Play. This passion play is performed outdoors, but the audience (only) is covered by a roof, a roof does not cover the stage. Every 10 years since 1680, with the exceptions of 1770 and 1940, the villagers of Oberammergau Germany have performed this passion play. Nobody is allowed to be in the cast except people who live in the village. The year I saw it 1,600 adults and 550 children were involved in the show! It’s all in German, but I knew what everyone was saying as I knew the story very well. I must say that the mob scenes were really impressive. If you ever get a chance to go in 2010, go! But be warned that the show is about 8 hours long! My husband and I want to go again. Anyway, I just want to say that the day we saw it, September 20, 2000, during the crucifixion scene near the end of the show, it started to rain!

Well, those are some of my many memories. Hope you enjoyed.

Jenean Bugiada

~~~

1/7/05 - Memory One

I only did JCS with Ted twice.  He was living in the L.A. area at that time. Gary Goddard, Anthony Christopher, a producer and I met Ted and LeeAnn (I don't know how to spell her name) at a restaurant for a meeting. It was the late summer of 1976. The rest of us all lived in Santa Barbara. That is where we were all from. When we did JCS, it was at an outdoor theatre called The Santa Barbara County Bowl. The show was performed in the fall of 1976. The next year, we did the show again in Concord, California at an outdoor theatre called "The Concord Pavillion".  That production was a financial disaster because Actors Equity refused to let Ted and Carl and the other union actors do the show. So we only played one weekend and we closed! The entire cast had to walk out on stage in front of an audience of about 8,000 people and tell them we couldn't do the show!!! All that money had to be refunded! What a nightmare. But, I have home movies of rehearsals!
 
I bet you are wondering why we had to close the show and refund money. Well, the show was a benefit for something called "California Youth Theatre" (CYT). In 1976, we got permission from the union to let Ted and Carl do the show for the same benefit (CYT). But for some reason, I don't know why, the union decided to NOT let them do it in 1977. We were doing the same show, same people working on the show, plus we got Paul Ainsley to recreate his Broadway role of Herod. There were a few other union actors in the show too. The show was all to benefit CYT. I don't really know what happened. But the 2nd weekend we were told NO by the union and told that if we did the show, all the union actors would be fined $10,000.00 each and all the other show biz unions backed up Equity (SAG, AFTRA, etc.), in not letting any of them work for 6 months! Our producer didn't have the money to pay the fines for all our union actors. Plus, the fact that the professionals would not be allowed to seek work for 6 months was too much. We had about 10 union actors total in the show at least. If we didn't perform, no fines would be charged and all actors would be allowed to seek show biz work. So we cancelled the show. So, in this case, "the show DID NOT go on". When we were on stage apologizing to the audience, Ted promised he'd be back. He kept the promise in the 1990's tour when the show was booked at the Concord Pavillion again. I didn't know that they had played there in the 90's till last October when I saw Ted in Ventura. He said that the cast walked out on stage before the show started. He said there were people in the audience who started to boo because they were probably also in the audience back in 1977 and remembered what happened to us. But Ted told the story to the audience and said that this time, they WERE doing the show!  Then they did the show. I wish I had been there that night!
 
Well, hope you liked my memories. Got to go to bed as it's late here in California. Got to work tomorrow.
 
Jenean

 

Jenean's description of the first five shots below:

"
The 1st photo attached is backstage. I'm next to Ted getting a famous hug. The other woman was Sarah Rutledge our Mary Magdalene. (Yvonne only did 1 weekend). The photo of Ted alone is while he sings "Gethsemane". Then a photo of the Crucifixion scene. It's a neat shot. Hope you enjoy!",  (shot #4): Guess who's B'day?! Henry Johnson (guy on his left) was our Simon, (shot #5): a photo of Ted with a couple of Guards. In the blurred background is Forbes Candlish. Forbes was later a Producer of the JCS tour that you saw in the 90's. Our production is where he and Ted met! Forbes played the part of Herod, as well as playing one of the 12 Apostles in the 1976 production.

 .

 







 






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