Lyricist Tim Rice has often been quoted as saying "It happens that we don't see Christ
as God but simply the right man at the right time at the right place." He further adds “we
are basically trying to tell the story of Christ as a man. I think he increases in stature by
looking at him as a man. ” [Time, November 9, 1970]
That one statement has been used in numerous arguments both for and against the show which has through the years drawn its own controversies. There is also the well worn phrase that if you wish to keep friends you should never discuss religion or politics, something that would obviously be a point of discussion for any group looking to perform this iconic work.
Windmill Theatre Company have assembled a stellar cast and an incredible production team and have been working very hard for their upcoming performances of Jesus Christ
Superstar at the Drum Theatre, Dandenong from 24th June – 10th July.
Jesus Christ Superstar gives a theatrical account of the final week of Jesus’ life and is very loosely based on the Gospels’ account commencing with the preparation for the
arrival of Jesus and his disciples in Jerusalem, and concluding with the crucifixion of Jesus. The show is written with Judas Iscariot as the central, tragic figure. He is a
catalyst and always true to his own beliefs. Judas tries to re-establish his relationship with Jesus by pleading with him to give up the popularity he relishes from the people
but, having failed, Judas betrays the trust of his friendship with Jesus, an action he regrets immediately after the betrayal.
The Production Team – Director Sue Salvato; Musical Director Ryan Jacobs and
Choreographer Robert Mulholland are extremely focused and passionate about this
work. Sue Salvato states that the Production Team “tried to keep at arm’s length from
religious issues” and that they “concentrated on the struggle between Judas
and Jesus and their interaction with Mary, Caiaphas, Annas, the other priests, as well as
Pilot and Herod providing the core of the political controversy and power play. ”
Salvato, Jacobs and Mulholland have sought to present the show on a ‘timeless basis’ forming the
opinion that “little or nothing has changed since time immemorial other than, of course,
modern technology”. History has a way of repeating itself and the team has decided to
“major on the political upheaval of the time” based on this notion.
The writing of the show including its use of slang or more modern vernacular (“Jesus is
cool”; “what’s the buzz?”) as well as the timeless nature of the text and the production
team’s view that “little or nothing has changed” lends itself quite naturally to
present day. The Production Team’s vision is that “costumes and props to a certain
extent reflect present time but again we still like to feel the timeless setting of the show”.
Set designer, Alberto Salvato, is very dedicated and passionate about his sets.
His design also helps to reinforce the team’s ‘timeless notion’ albeit that Alberto decided “an ancient look would be more appropriate” because “many references in the libretto to the Roman occupation of Israel validated (his) decision to use ancient architecture for this setting”.
Ryan Jacobs has been able to produce a magnificent sound from the cast and has
focused on also creating a more modern sound both vocally and orchestrally. With the
addition of some clever choreography and movement by Mulholland this is definitely a must see production.
Having been privileged to attend a rehearsal run I was struck by the openness of the
production team and the strength and camaraderie of the cast.
Windmill Theatre Company’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar will be showing at the
Drum Theatre, Lonsdale St, Dandenong. Ph: 9771 6666
Friday, 24 June 2011 8:00PM
Saturday, 25 June 2011 8:00PM
Friday, 1 July 2011 8:00PM
Saturday, 2 July 2011 8:00PM
Friday, 8 July 2011 8:00PM
Saturday, 9 July 2011 8:00PM
Sunday, 10 July 2011 2:00PM (Matinee)