When I saw Jewish Summer Camp in the early 1970s, over there were 2 “Jesus”-based musicals walking around. One, Godspell, provided us a tune we actually sang in ~ camp: “Day by Day”. Out of context, it functioned just fine. The various other was this brown album v a stylized angel on it, and also it offered us a tune we sang as “Jesus Christ / Superstar / that In The Hell perform You Think girlfriend Are”. The native aren’t too surprising because that a Jewish summer camp. I mention this because that was really my understanding of the music Jesus Christ Superstar up to last night. I had actually seen Godspell a variety of times and also tended to like it since it wasn’t so “in your face” for a non-Christian. From what small I had actually heard or seen, JCS was much much more in her face, hefty rock, and also screamy. In current years ns had lastly heard the music — and also there were a few songs I liked — but still hadn’t checked out the show either on phase or top top screen. So as soon as REP eastern Playhouse (FB) in Newhall, where we subscribe, announced the display for this season, i was looking forward to ultimately seeing it. Critical night I lastly saw it. I came away disappointed, unsure the what all the fuss to be about. REP provided it a an excellent effort, but it simply didn’t strike the chord because that me. As always, your mileage may vary.

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Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS for short) to be the very first musical indigenous the team the Andrew Lloyd Webber (FB) and also Tim Rice (FB) to hit America (Joseph was composed earlier, but was imported to the us after JCS became a success). It to be released first as a rock concept album — that aforementioned brown album — and became a hit. This led to the album being staged on Broadway through the same director that had done Hair. Top top Broadway — just just like Wicked — the critics virtually universally panned the show, however the audiences love it. JCS can be said to have started the era the sung-through music — we can blame JCS for not only Evita, Sunset Boulevard, Starlight Express, Phantom the the Opera, and Cats, but for spawning shows prefer Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Tale of two Cities, and the current fringe show, The count of Monte Cristo.

JCS essentially relates the popular story that the critical eight job of the guy Jesus of Nazareth. Spoiler: He die in the finish (it go not show the resurrection). I’m not certain I have to relate the particulars that the story; if you need to see the plot synopsis, the is on the Wikipedia page. The story really focuses on the relationship between Jesus, Judas, and also Mary. Judas, who plays the main driving number in the story, is disappointed that Jesus appears to have veered away from the emphasis of his ministry. Under what the sees together the influence of Mary, Judas believes the Jesus is spending funds on oils and also ointments rather of utilizing it to help the poor and also needy. The becomes progressively disillusioned with Jesus, relocating to the suggest (as we all know) the betraying him come the authorities, which leader to his crucifixion. As Jesus gets pilloried by the authorities, we additionally see how many of his disciples appear to turn away from him together well, just as today popular media deserve to turn world away indigenous heroes of old. Only Mary continues to be steadfastly through Jesus’ side. In ~ the end, lock return remembering exactly how he affected their lives.

The love triangle gift in story, as JCS presents it, is most likely what drew youth into the story. The triangle: close friend disillusioned when the brand-new woman in his bro’s life transforms him away is standard — and also it is an interesting take on Jesus’ life. Ns don’t understand the extent to which this subtext, however, is actually in the gospels.

Unlike Godspell, which teaches Jesus’ lessons and focuses much less on the really life story, JCS really doesn’t teach what Jesus said about living. V Judas, it seems to display how that turned away from what he was teaching. It mirrors Jesus as bargaining through God, do the efforts to figure out his role in all of this. Ultimately, that is encouraged he has to die in stimulate to make his message. To me, a non-Christian, the portrayal of Jesus by Rice and also Webber is a an unfavorable one. Right here is a pretty guy, trying come minister to the poor, but his followers inflate his ministry for their very own purposes and also for their very own immortality (listen come the indigenous in “The critical Supper”: “Always hoped the I’d it is in an apostle / Knew the I would make the if ns tried / Then once we pensioner we have the right to write the gospels / therefore they’ll all talk around us once we’ve died”). Rice and Webber portray Jesus as at some point betraying his cause and his occupational to do that larger message, of gift a wake up messiah — in essence, of gift a fraud. Look in ~ the main lyric of the location song: “Jesus Christ, Superstar / execute you think you’re what they to speak you are”. Rice and Webber portray Judas together seeing through this, and also trying come return Jesus come the right path. That’s certainly not the story that Jesus that i (a non-Christian) have actually gleaned end the years. I think the is at some point a an adverse portrayal of Jesus, with lyrics that room screaming and also not always melodic.

Even worse, i think the JCS perpetuates the antisemitic nature that the Gospels. Look in ~ “King Herod’s Song”, and an especially the “Trial prior to Pilate”. What comes across is the the Jews are viewed in a an adverse sense, and also that the Romans space really reluctant to death Jesus — but (as the song says) it is the Jews that need that the Romans discover a factor to execute so.

Suffice it to say the I’m not enthused around the presentation of the story, and I now recognize why I wanted Godspell. There are some execution of Godspell that can acquire a little preachy, but they execute not obtain anti-anything. JCS does. It has actually a few songs that ns like, specifically “I Don’t Know how To Love Him”, however the display just transforms me off. Mine guess is that this would be the case irrespective the the venue producing the show (although i am now curious about the highly-touted DOMA version).

Let’s now turn come the REP translate of the show, understanding just how that may have actually been colored based on the book itself. Alas, this as well was disappointing as result of a number of factors, but I’ll eventually chock it up to directoral vision merged with technical issues. Together directed by rick Pratt (FB), the show had a minimalist collection staging (there were no real set pieces in ~ all), with lots of weird lighting and paint options that served to distract from rather than assistance the story. The pre-recorded music often tended to overpower the voices, which to be not aided by microphones that maintained cutting in and also out and having a fair amount the hiss. This was no the normal REP set, sound, or lighting top quality — every theater has an aberration occasionally. Because of all this, the focus at some point was on the cast and their relationships and also emotions; provided the sung v nature of the show, that had to come across in the quality and clarity the the songs and also how they to be sung. The cast tried hard to overcome these problems, yet it never ever quite meshed v the needs the overwrought Webber/Rice story required.

As a rapid aside, I likewise believe this is a story that functions much much better with live music. Live, as opposed to pre-recorded music, offers that extra energy that a absent opera such as this requires. The director, rick Pratt, had actually experience v live on-stage music prior to at the REP and also that worked really very well, and also I wish he had actually been may be to figure out a method to make the music live.

In JCS, the central character driving the story is Judas. That is he that frames the initial opening direction that the story in “Heaven on your Minds”; the is he that is there criticizing Jesus’s partnership with Mary; the is he the interacts through the High Priests; and it is that that ultimately faces Jesus in the end. His function is quite similar to the one that Rice/Webber would usage again because that Che in Evita. You need a powerhouse rock singer below — one that can not only act, but sing loud and also clear to gain the post across. You additionally need an gibbs who have the right to just have that unspeakable presence. Adam Duarte tries really hard, and also occasionally obtained the ton right, but didn’t have actually the consistency needed. Further, his effort to be rock-ish make it an overwhelming to hear the words clearly — and also hearing the indigenous is crucial when the songs space the only thing moving the story forward.

The second part of the main triangle in the story is Jesus, that was played by Benjamin Patrick thomas (FB). Benjamin sang well when we experienced him in Return come the Forbidden Planet (also directed by Pratt). For the many part, he did well here but had a most trouble v the upper finish of the selection on several of Jesus’ songs. He likewise had watch the not correct look, however I can’t placed my finger ~ above why — as a mid-thirties white moustache hippie, he definitely didn’t to the right the conventional photo of Jesus; then again, we don’t know what Jesus looked like.

The third part of the triangle — and one of the standouts in the show — to be Natasha J. Gaston (FB) as mary Magdalene. Gaston’s mary conveyed exorbitant emotions, and also had a wonderful to sing voice that she put to good use in “I Don’t Know exactly how To Love Him” and also “Everything’s Alright”. The high quality of this voice come through even as her microphone kept cutting in and out and over a big amount of amplification hiss. I hope that we see much more of this lovely actress.

As the the contrary leadership, kris Loprete (FB) , Paul Nieman (FB) , and Ally Loprete (FB) go well. All 3 sang well and also were able come convey their emotions through song. The costuming seemed a bit strange, especially the too many clingy and sexy number because that Annas, that was supposedly a high priest, and also the devilish dark red fit for Caiphas. , who inserted the third component of the Sanhedrin. Loprete’s Pilate was goot, however wasn’t component of the key opposition leadership.>

In the ensemble and also playing a number of smaller roles were: Alex archer (FB) , Tara Cox/FB , Michael Davies , Eriel Brown (FB) , Laura Norkin/FB , Marie-Clarie Erdynast/FB , daniel Honeyman (FB) , Sean Goodman/FB , Bruce Robinson/FB , and also Micahel Gilbertson/FB . In the ensemble positions, all combined well, sang sensibly well, and had apparent fun depicting their characters. There are a couple of worthy of distinct comment. Tara Cox/FB was an additional of those actors v a voice over the rest; that came throughout quite strongly in the few solo numbers and also portions the numbers the she had. We’ve checked out Michael Davies before in Forbidden Planet. That was good in King Herod’s number (one of mine favorites ~ above the album), yet didn’t quite have actually the ideal sense the the cat playing v the computer mouse that to be required, and that feeds the righteous indignation the feeds the end of the number. The emphasis was the cutesy, no the message. Eriel Brown (FB) moved and danced well, and also seemed (if ns was choose her out right) to have a very nice to sing voice. Lastly, danielle Honeyman (FB) was funny to clock in the ensemble. Again, if i was listening correctly, ns heard a contempt operatic voice and also tone.

As listed before, JCS was directed by stack Pratt (FB) and also Kimbyrly M. Valis (FB). Carla Bellefeuille (FB) to be the vocal director, assisted by Justin G. Horwitz/FB. Erin Cholakian (FB) to be the choreographer. I’ve comment before about the directoral vision. JCS is a hard display to acquire correct in a little venue, so I execute applaud the directoral team because that trying. Their choices didn’t work-related for me; it might work because that others. Ns feel your attempt was hurt by the inability to have live music. It was additionally hurt through the current fight between intimate theatres and AEA that has led REP to walk non-union; JCS in specific is a present that would have been helped greatly to have actually the extr seasoning, talent, and stage presence in the command positions. Ns think the team walk the ideal with what they had actually to work with. The choreography, top top the other hand, worked well given the minimal REP space; it is always nice to watch dance ~ above the REP stage.

I’ve also detailed before the various technical problems. The set design was minimal: part ramps, some raised stages, a overcome that might be lowered, and also some inexplicable painted currently on the floor and also on the wall. This is no the style of collection design the REP normally does, and it didn’t work for me (but then again, I’ve never ever seen JCS before — perhaps this is the concept). There were also far-reaching problems through the sound — i don’t understand if it was the style of Steven “Nanook” Burkholder/FB or difficulties with the wireless mics on the performers and also difficulties in ~ the sound board. In any case, it offered to distract an ext than amplify. Return TC was noted as the residents lighting designer, lighting credit for this display was provided to Jeffrey Hampton. The lighting was odd — there to be odd flashes during songs that I’m guessing were expected to be rock opera-ish. Over there were likewise points where personalities were to sing or moving in the dark, i m sorry shouldn’t it is in the case. Ns don’t recognize what to say around the costume style by Chelsea Jones/FB: castle attempted to upgrade this to some unspecified era so the the costumes were some odd eclectic mix the robes, sexy shorts, spandex, hippie threads, jeans and T-shirts, and suits. Mine wife listed that there were plenty of fitting problems. Calliope Weisman/FB was the phase manager. REP is under the creative direction the Mikee Schwinn/FB.

Jesus Christ Superstar proceeds at REP eastern (FB) in Newhall (Santa Clarita) with August 15, 2015. Tickets are obtainable through the REP digital box office. Discount ticket are available through Goldstar. I’m no a fan of JCS, yet you could be.

After JCS concludes that is run, REP will be presenting a distinct two-weekend “81 series” manufacturing of A company of Wayward Saints by George Herman, a commedia del arte form show. Ticket are easily accessible through the REP website.

Ob. Disclaimer: ns am no a trained theatre critic; ns am, however, a continuous theatre audience member. I’ve to be attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; i have been composing up my thoughts on theatre (and the reflects I see) because 2004. I carry out not have actually theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), however have learned a lot around theatre over my numerous years of attending theatre and talking come talented professionals. Ns pay for all my tickets uneven otherwise noted. I am no compensated by anyone because that doing this writeups in any type of way, shape, or form. Ns subscribe at three theatres: REP eastern (FB), The nest Theatre (FB), and also Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB). With my theatre attendance I have actually made friends through cast, crew, and also producers, yet I perform strive to not let those relationships shade my writing (with one exception: as soon as writing up children production, I focus on the positive — one benefit nothing except bad karma through raking a boy over the coals). I believe in telling you about the mirrors I check out to aid you form your opinion; that is as much as you to recognize the weight you give my writeups.

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Upcoming Shows: July is a month the double-headers. Following weekend is another dual header: “The background Boys” in ~ the Stella Adler Theatre (FB) top top Saturday (Goldstar), and “Green thrive The Lilacs” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB) on Sunday. The critical weekend of July brings our last double: “Lombardi” in ~ the Lonny Chapman team Rep (FB) on July 25th, with the annual Operaworks show the following day. August begin calming down, v “As You prefer It” at Theatricum Botanicum (FB) the first weekend that August, our summer Mus-ique show the 2nd weekend that August, and “The Fabulous Lipitones” in ~ The colony Theatre (FB) the 3rd weekend of August. After that we’ll need a holidays … yet then again we might squeeze in Evita at the Maui cultural Center (FB) the last weekend the August. September right currently is largely open, with the just ticketed show being “The Diviners” at REP east (FB) and also a hold-the-date because that “First Date” at The La Mirada Theatre because that the Performing arts (FB). October will certainly bring an additional Fringe Festival: the NoHo Fringe Festival (FB). October also has the following as ticketed or hold-the-dates: Kelrik production (FB)’s Urinetown at the Monroe Forum Theatre (Hold for satellite 10/3); “Mrs. A. Lincoln” in ~ The swarm Theatre (FB) (Ticketed for sat 10/10); and also “Damn Yankees” at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) (Ticketed for satellite 10/17). As always, I’m maintaining my eyes open for amazing productions stated on web page such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, and productions I see on Goldstar, LA stage Tix, Plays411.