The life story of Jesus Christ remains the Greatest Story Ever Told to Christians worldwide, yet Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber found a new way to tell the story with a new twist–telling the story from Judas Iscariot’s point of view–where the disciple has questions and does not understand his role as the betrayer–especially if all was predetermined.
Such is the basis of Webber’s blockbuster musical opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” one of Webber’s earliest Broadway successes, dating back to the 1960s. Thus began a string of bigger and greater hits by Webber, including, “Cats”, “Starlight Express,” “Evita,” “Phantom of the Opera,” and “Sunset Boulevard,” among others less acclaimed.
Culture House mounted the musical tragedy as its 2017 summer musical that plays for one weekend only, July 20. 21, 22, 23 at Johnson County Community College in the Polsky Theatre.
Casting and technical teams combined to produce a crowd pleasing show that moves well and allows the large cast amply opportunities to display their vocal strengths and acting talents. Costumes stand out as a major portion of the show because they make the whole project maintain a professional look throughout the show. Beautiful lighting, staged vignettes, and famous stories come to life in the Culture House rendition.
Vocally, Arthur Clifford, Jr. uses the full range of his vocal scale as Jesus. Benjamin Blue’s character narrates the story with his vocal gymnastics ranging from plaintive to celebratory. His “Jesus Christ Superstar” number at the end stands out. Kristin Alley sings the soothing “Everything’s All Right” and the plaintive “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” with tender grace. As the evil Caiapahs, Rob Hallifax’s booming voice can be heard strongly form the back of the stage in his numbers.Another strong vocal performance comes from Michael Book as Pontius Pilate. The show-stopper in Act II, Yianni Perahoritis belts, dances, and charms the audience with his gay rendition of “Harrod’s Song.” “Superstar” can not get better sung than this production.
The show flows easily and smoothly through the scenes with most of the story focused on the final week of Jesus’ life and his journey to the cross. Some of Act I reflects the early times of his three-year ministry, but the final days hold more emphasis and drama.
When dealing with Christian theology and the time-honored story of Jesus’ ministry, deviation from theology remains a problem. Everyone knows how the story ends. No spoiler alert here: Jesus dies on the cross. Be prepared for that dramatic nosedive at the end. It’s tragic and heartbreaking.
Applaud Culture House for resurrecting the musical and presenting it to Kansas City audiences again. A few small sound glitches on final dress rehearsal were addressed at intermission and Act II cruised to a smooth end. By opening night, the actors and show will amaze viewers.
Count on Culture House to present a strong summer musical. “Jesus Christ Superstar” continues their streak of annual successes. The show comes highly recommended and is a crowd pleaser. Do not miss this opportunity to see the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic, here for a very limited one-weekend run.
Arthur Clifford Jr. (Jesus), Benjamin Blue (Judas Iscariot), Kristen Alley (Mary Magdalene), Rob Hallifax (Caiapahs), George Mack (Annas), Michael Book (Pontius Pilate), Yianni Perahoritis (King Herod & Andrew), Chase Simmons (Simon Peter), William Pecota (Simon the Zealot), Lauren Martin (Soul Sister), Natalie Crane (Soul Sister), Ezri Killeen (Soul Sister), Arthur Clifford Sr. (Thaddeus/Jude), Jamy VanSyckle (James the Elder), Zack Lofland (Matthew/Levi), Alex Schmitt (John), Connor Ampleman (James the Younger), Sam Chapin (Philip), Cael Kuhn (Thomas), Mason Hoyt (Bartholomew/Nathanael), Chuck Chambers (Priest), De’Marckus Howell (Priest), Brad Dawdy (Priest), and ensemble members: Michael Book, Chuck Chambers, Zachary Kujath, Cameron Gunter, De’Marckus Howell, Brad Dawdy, Jessica Holcombe, Carolyn Young, Susan Neu, Spring TerBurgh, Kerstin Clifford, Lauren Martin, Sharon Johnson, Marty Joseph, Christa James, Rachel Field, Shelby Keller, Cayleigh Weiter, Kathryn Hume, Addison Landes, Austyn Sander, Morgan Stacer, Natalie Crane, Ezri Kileen, Megan Clifford, Kaitlyn Borgelt, Ava Robles, Sarah Roebbeke, Robin Robles, Neena Shanker, Will Book, Dominic Adams, Sophia Adams
Director: Amy LaGrone Sander
Music Director/Orchestra Conductor: Matt Richardson
Choreographer: Nick Perry
Stage Manager: Elaine Christensen
Production Coordinator: Tracy Miller
Scenic & Visual Concept: Amy LaGrone Sander
Costume Manager: Patti Perahoritis
Scenic Construction & Design: Harold Eastman, Sonja Robles
Cross Design & Construction: Frank Gentile (Church of the Resurrection)
Properties Manager: Lucy Kuhn
Lighting Design: Jeremiah Enna
Backstage Managers: Lucy Kuhn, Tracy Miller, Nick Perry
Spotlight Operators: Aurora Kuhn, Cole Bellamy
Light Board Operator: Derek Boyd, Carlsen Center (JCCC)
Sound Board Operator: Ian Mason, Carlsen Center (JCCC)
Fly Rails: Aaron Roose, Carlsen Center (JCCC)
Rehearsal Accompanists: Roberta Wilkes, Michelle Reed, Marsha Canaday
Angela & Joe King
Duggan, Shadwick, Doerr & Kurlbaum, LLC
Special thank you to Church of the Resurrection for the use of most of the Biblical costumes used in this production.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” is presented through and exclusive arrangement with R & H Theatricals and Two Knights Rights Limited.
Tags: Culture House, Johnson County Community College, Polsky Theater, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, Kansas City, Kansas City Performing Arts, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City Theater