Interlochen Arts Academy theatre students offer a fresh perspective on the Gospel story with ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s iconic pop-rock musical gains new momentum from open casting and choreography by Broadway veteran Rick Faugno.
If Jesus Christ is the most famous person in history, Judas Iscariot is the most infamous.
The man who betrayed Jesus takes center stage in the iconic pop-rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar, which comes to Interlochen Arts Academy Nov. 11-13. Loosely inspired by the Gospels, Jesus Christ Superstar offers an in-depth character study of the Bible’s biggest hero and greatest villain. As Jesus walks the inevitable path to his crucifixion, Judas grapples with doubt and his own role in the biblical narrative.
Jesus Christ Superstar was initially released as a concept album in 1970 after lyricist Tim Rice and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber were unable to acquire funding for a stage production. The stunning success of the concept album—which topped Billboard’s Top LP charts in February and May of 1971 and sold more than seven million copies—led to a fully staged Broadway production, which opened in October 1971. The musical received five Tony Award nominations and earned Webber the 1972 Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Composer.
Interlochen’s production is directed by Director of Musical Theatre Justin Lee Miller, who says that despite the musical’s biblical themes, Jesus Christ Superstar “isn’t just for Christians.”
“Jesus Christ Superstar deals with cosmic themes of redemption and the nature of the universe,” Miller said. “There are elements that will resonate with people from all faiths.”
The cast features 35 Arts Academy theatre students from 20 U.S. states and Brazil, Peru, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. Miller opened up roles in the production to students of all genders, resulting in a number of changes from the musical’s traditional casting.
The production also features original choreography by Broadway veteran Rick Faugno. Between preparations for his recent appearance in The Pirates of Penzance at the Roundabout Theatre, Faugno spent several days on campus working with the Arts Academy cast.
“Rick was here for the first time over the summer, and we loved working with him,” Miller said. “Being able to work with guests like Rick—artists who are currently working in the industry as choreographers and performers—is a tremendous opportunity for our students.”
While Interlochen’s Jesus Christ Superstar features several contemporary updates, Miller says the show maintains the beloved components of the original production.
“Our production has all the elements you love about Jesus Christ Superstar—such as the rock-pop style and the Andrew Lloyd Webber score—while offering a very fresh take,” Miller said. “I hope you’ll be excited by our unique interpretation.”
Performances will be held in Corson Auditorium on Friday, Nov. 11 and Saturday, Nov. 12 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 13 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $33 ($17 for students) and can be purchased at interlochen.org/concerts-and-events.