‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ arrives at the McConnell

By MARGAUX MASSEY, staff reporter

Starting Friday, the Central Washington University theater program will give seven performances of the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

It’s the first musical of the year and is a joint effort between the theater and the music departments at Central, with the music department providing the orchestra.

Attendees who are expecting a normal play are in for a surprise.  The show is an opera, meaning that there is no actual speaking, everything is sung.

According to director Keith Edie, the musical is essentially the last week of Jesus’ life, set to rock music.

“In a modern calendar, we would say from Palm Sunday to the crucifixion,” Edie said.

The play won’t be anything like “The Passion,” however, as it is set in modern times. According to Edie, the point is to see what the whole situation would look like now.

“It’s ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ with texting, suits and beanies,” Alex Smith, a senior performance major and Peter in the play, said.  “I joke that my costume looks like it came out of my closet.”

Even though the play is a little different from the story in the Bible, Edie says he hopes the experience will change the attendees of the play.

Edie doesn’t want to beat the audience over the head with what he believes is the truth; he wants them to make their own decisions.

“I’m hoping that they leave different in some way, so they don’t leave thinking the same way as when they came,” Edie said.

Jordyn Brown, a senior musical theater major who is playing Mary Magdalene, agreed with Edie and added that she hoped they got a reaction in some way, “even if it’s just that they walk a little lighter.”

With this being the first musical Edie has ever directed, he said it is hard for him because he doesn’t like to dictate to everybody what they are supposed to do.

With Edie directing, along with a vocal coach, a choreographer and a musical director, he said they had to mesh what everyone was doing into a cohesive whole.

“It’s been like guiding the ship itself,” Edie said.  “My job is to make sure the ship gets safely to shore.”

The play has been difficult for the actors for different reasons. For Brown, it was how important it is to get the message across. The play “isn’t just about how pretty it sounds,” to her.

For Smith, the difficulties were a bit different.

“There are so many things going on and so many people relying on you,” Smith said.  It adds to the pressure because they are all relying on you to get it right, he went on to say.

Luckily, he said, the easiest part of the production was the trust and the relationships he has with the other actors.

Having that trust is an integral part of any performance, and with a cast like the one they have, it has been the easiest part.

“We’re all trained the same way,” Brown said.  “You have the knowledge and notion that the actor is going to do their job, you have to trust that they have it.”

The participants are all excited because, while it is the same play that has been done countless times in countless places, there are some aspects that are unique to this performance.

Edie said that, going into the play, he didn’t want to do what everyone was expecting to do, he wanted to do the play in a way that it would be new to people, even those who have seen it countless times.

He looked for what within the play he could change, “for the person that has seen it a million times,” Edie said.  “The person that’s going to be like, oh wow, I’ve never seen it that way.”