Stage Right! Theater Company ends its 20th anniversary season on Palm Sunday weekend, April 12-14, with a retelling of the last week of Jesus Christ’s life in the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice 1970 rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
The musical at The Palace Theatre – loosely based on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – will feature Vince Tresco reprising his role as Jesus, with Tony Marino as Judas, Nick Lenz as Herod, David Cabot as Pilate, Renata Marino as Mary Magdalene and John Noble as Caiphas.
A new perspective
Tony Marino, who also directs the production, has chosen to tell the biblical story this season from the perspective of Mary Magdalene, as she reacts to the events taking place around her and her concern for her friend, Jesus.
“People might think it’s a reactionary take because of the times we live in,” Renata says, “but we always saw Mary as something more than the woman who sings ‘that song’ (“I Don’t Know How to Love Him”)” in the show.
“We’ve never played the hooker with a heart of gold angle who’s secretly in love with Jesus. I think that disrespects her. She was an equal among the other apostles,” she says. “In fact, Kim McLeod, who played my best friend in ‘Mamma Mia,’ is cast as an apostle – but without drawing attention to her gender. It’s about looking past preconceptions and at the story.”
Renata says “Superstar” is a perennial favorite among Stage Right audiences.
“We do it because people love it, but every time we do it, we as a company are always trying to make people leave the theater saying ‘I can’t wait to see that again,’ so we’re always looking to tell the story in a different way. It’s always going to be fresh; it’s always going to be moving,” she says.
This will be Tresco’s fifth time portraying Jesus, a role he says becomes more meaningful to him the older he gets.
“We all begin to value the more important things in life as we age,” he says.
He hopes the audience finds the true meaning of the Easter season in Stage Right’s production.
“We live in such an angry world that is full of turmoil and I think that in Jesus’s passion we can all reflect back on our own lives and decide if we are going to let the chaos define who we are – or if we will let our hearts redefine the world,” he says.
Amy Heinen, Stage Right development coordinator and stage manager, says the company is featuring as many returning students as possible in the musical that has been a big part of all of their lives since the start of Stage Right.
“If you’ve come here, there is a really good chance you’ve had contact with the specialness of this show,” she says. “We thought this would be the perfect end to the 20th year celebration, a celebration that is as much about the family atmosphere Stage Right creates as it is about the art it creates.”
The 85-member cast also features Josh List as Peter, Anthony Marino as Simon Zealotes, and Carolyn Cole, Savannah Bruno and Madelynne Caralli as the Soul Girls. Other cast members include Ben Wren, Kevin Beam, Greg Kerestan, Kevin Bass and McLeod.
An opening night reception in the Palace Theatre’s Megan Suite will be held following the April 12 performance.