A seven piece orchestra, 38 performers and 10 video screens. “This show is big,” said Tom Quaintance, artistic director at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. “I think this is the biggest project I’ve taken on.”
Jesus Christ Superstar opens at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre on Sept. 20 and runs thought Oct. 7. While the original version looks at the story of Jesus through the lens of 1970s hippie counter-culture, this version takes a different spin.
“I’ve wanted to do a version of this show for about 20 years,” said Quaintance. “I was watching a news show and the news anchors were talking about what it would take for a third party to win an election. They came to the conclusion that there is no one who could pull that off. No one who could unite the country … and I immediately thought ‘No one but Jesus. I bet Jesus could do it.’”
The production does not change the dialogue or music in any way, but by changing the context Quaintance believes this production will bring a fresh perspective to an age-old story that will both please and entertain the audience.
Centered in the world of politics, the story would not be complete without the media, because as Quaintance says “What is politics without the media?”
Indeed. Twitter feeds, Facebook posts and bloggers all share their views on the screens as Jesus becomes more and more popular. Eventually social media translates into mainstream media and Jesus is arrested on live television.
“We draw parallels and contextualize who everyone is in the story. Herod becomes a modern Internet queen along the line of Perez Hilton. Pilate/Rome is the main stream media,” said Quaintance. “This is a musical that asks you to imagine this world. I hope people don’t just think of this as clever, but as a new perspective on the show.”
While Quaintance is careful not to make fun of the story of Christ or be irreverent, he considers it a confirmation of the life of Jesus. A show this big draws big talent. With actors from Britain, Lumberton, New York, Southern Pines and Fayetteville, there is plenty of talent to go around.
Gill Brady, who has an impressive resume ranging from theater to film, television, print work and stand-up comedy, portrays Jesus. Past performances have been hailed as high-energy, remarkable, charming and witty.
Emelie Thompson, also from New York, portrays Mary Magdalene, while Lumberton native Kendrix Singletary is Judas. Singletary is no stranger to the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. He was in last season’s production of Miss Saigon.
While this show is a big undertaking, Quaintance noted that like so many other areas in life, finding a balance and rhythm in the season plays a big part in being successful in the theatre.
“This is a big show, and this is a lot of fun, but we care about smaller intimate stories, too. We are not always trying to top ourselves, other than doing our best,” said Quaintance. “Our tagline is great stories told here. What better story is there than the story of Christ?”
Find out more about show times and ticket prices at www.cfrt.org.