You may know the ending, but it’s a story worth retelling
A rock-opera depicting the dramatic biblical tale of Jesus and Judas is set to hit the City Hall Theatre next month.
‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ one of the longest running musicals in London’s West End will be performed by The Gilbert and Sullivan Society of Bermuda from October 6 to 15.
The 90-minute production, directed by John Payton, tells of the strong friendship between the son of God and one of his 12 disciples and the eventual betrayal that leads to Jesus’ death.
Veteran actor Gary Foster Skelton, who plays Jesus, said audiences should prepare for an emotional ride with laughter and smiles and maybe a few tears.
“They will be taken on an absolutely amazing emotional journey. The music is incredible. It’s a ground-breaking show, one of the first real rock-operas.
“It’s full of a mix of styles and music in the show itself, from really heavy rock songs to gospel rock and big powerful booming musical tunes that you automatically think of with [creator] Andrew Lloyd Webber.
“I think with the music and drama people will be taken on a fantastic ride.
“People will be coming out weeping at times because it can be so powerfully emotive. I think they will be almost exhausted by the end of it, but it will be an amazing night.”
The showing in Bermuda marks the play’s 40th anniversary.
Originally created by Grammy-winning composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, it is described as a “passionate, energetic retelling of the passion of Christ” from the viewpoint of Judas.
While the musical is more of an interpretation than an exact retelling of the Bible, Mr Payton has maintained a great deal of respect for the original story, according to cast members.
Mr Skelton, a Christian himself, said: “It’s not one of those kind of productions that tries to be controversial because the show itself has a certain amount of controversy.
“Some productions have hinted at some kind of sexual triangle and some have gone out to be controversial, but [Mr Payton] is not aiming for anything like that.
“He wanted the story to be timeless because there is enough controversy in it. It’s emotionally dramatic in itself; that is the reality of it. This is the last week of Jesus’ life.
“We may know the ending, but the process of getting there and his struggles and fears and the relationship between Jesus and Judas is worth telling.”
Mr Skelton has been acting professionally for over ten years and appeared in performances of William Shakespeare’s ‘Comedy of Errors’ and ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in the UK.
He said this would be his ‘biggest musical theatre role” to date and said the challenge of playing Jesus has been trying to “capture all of the different emotions and motives he was going through during that time”.
He will be acting alongside Stephen Notman, as Judas, and Jennifer Osmond, who plays Mary Magdalene.
There are more than 30 other actors in the ensemble who have an equally important role in recreating the setting and mood of the popular Broadway hit.
In the local production Mr Payton focuses on the human emotions of Jesus his determination, his fear of what is to come and his fear not only for himself but for his disciples who are unaware of the seriousness of the situation.
He also hones in on the relationship with Judas as he becomes increasingly doubtful about Jesus’ purpose.
“Judas seems to think Jesus has lost his way and in doing so he resorts to betraying him,” said Mr Skelton. “And there are other complexities with them having a very strong friendship and it falls apart as the show progresses.”
Mr Notman, who has acted in more than 35 plays in Bermuda, Canada and the UK, describes his character Judas as “three-dimensional”.
“He is not just a pantomime villain. He is more of the anti-hero. The story is told from his perspective so we have this character who does betray Jesus, but it allows for the fact he was also loyal at a certain point and did love Jesus.”
According to the thespian, people can look forward to an “incredibly fast-moving show” that is “packed with some of the best music I have ever heard”.
Tickets, $55, are available at www.gands.bm, www.premiertickets.bm or by calling 278-1500. On the night of the performances, which run between October 6 and 15 except October 10 the City Hall Box Office will be open an hour before the 8pm show time.
A matinee of the show will be held October 9 at 3pm.