“Jesus Christ Superstar” opened Thursday, Feb. 14 at the Buckner Theatre at Florida Southern College. The show runs Thursday through Sunday until Feb. 24, with shows at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets can be purchased at the Buckner Theatre Box Office and are free for FSC students, faculty and staff.
The musical features compositions by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, and is directed by James Beck, Associate Professor of Theatre Arts and chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at FSC. The cast features 29 students, ranging from freshmen to seniors.
According to Webber’s website, “Jesus Christ Superstar” is an adapted story of Jesus’ life but told through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. The story is told entirely through song and focuses on the personal relationships between Jesus and Mary, Judas and his followers and persecutors. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1971, and since then has had multiple productions produced on Broadway, the West End, and touring productions. The show has also had two movie adaptations and some television and concert versions, including the NBC live production which premiered on Easter of 2018.
The show is a rock concert, one of the first of its time to use rock music in a musical setting. The story is entirely told through song, without the use of dialogue between scenes. Famous songs include “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Gethsemane,” and “Superstar.”
Part of the cast performed “Superstar” at convocation Feb. 7. The song is a high-energy number that occurs near the end of the show and is led by Judas, played by senior musical theatre major Sam Bowling. He spoke of the advanced level of the show and the endurance it takes to perform the role.
“Understanding the viewpoint of Judas in this extremely well-known story has been difficult yet rewarding,” Bowling said. “Adding the insane vocal requirements on top of that creates a very powerful story.”
Putting together a production of this size and scope takes an army of sorts. Students work on each production in the season for approximately four weeks and four days. Though there are 29 students onstage, many more work tirelessly behind-the-scenes. One of those students is Taylor D’Onofrio, a sophomore technical theatre major. She serves as one of the two Assistant Stage Managers (ASM) for the show, who are directly responsible for assisting the cast and the stage manager with everything from scene changes to taking line notes during rehearsals.
“I have really enjoyed being an ASM for this show,” D’Onofrio said. “It’s so exciting every night to be able to help the cast with whatever they need and to see the show go smoothly because of what I do.”
“Jesus Christ Superstar” is the fourth of five theatrical productions of this school year. The musical will be followed by “See How They Run,” a play by Philip King, directed by Paul Bawek.