Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Kick-Ass J. C. Superstar

Jesus Christ Superstar

Ray of Light Theatre
http://rayoflighttheatre.com

At the Victoria Theater until June 9, 2018
2961 16th Street between Mission and Capp streets
#shesus


Reviewed by Christine Okon

What would Jesus say about Ray of Light Theatre’s all-woman production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Jesus Christ Superstar?

Jesus would say, “hell, yeah, THAT’s what I’m talkin’ about! Radical.Rebellious. Relevant!”

This show wins on all counts--directing, singing, dancing, set design, music, video, costumes, everything--and it would be a shame if you didn’t get to experience it for yourself.

Jesus (Janelle LaSalle) and the Apostles

As the familiar, wailing LIVE guitar overture fills the Victoria theater, we are immersed in the chaos of a present-day conflict that is played out on stage while at the same time, four large TV screens blare the “Breaking News,” all of it disturbingly familiar to our own lives in the current world state. Protesters clash against “Rome,” a symbol of tyranny for any age, as the music reaches a crescendo until it is settled by the main theme music and the spotlight illuminates the powerful yet peaceful form of Jesus Christ (a remarkable Janelle LaSalle), comforting and interacting with the apostles. And we soon meet Judas, Jesus’s passionate “right-hand man” (a powerful Jocelyn Pickett) who argues that the mission is going off track and that the apostles have too much “Heaven on Their Minds.”

Judas (Jocelyn Pickett) returns
As one of those people who knows the whole score by heart, it was a pleasure to experience the innovative staging of each song. Most incredible is Janelle LaSalle as Jesus, her strong voice moving across the range of notes from gentle prayer to argumentative scream; her version of “Gethsemane” is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. This production has some powerful talent, especially Maita Ponce as Mary Magdalene and Heather Orth as Caiaphas. An especially delightful splash of humor was the visit to Herod, played by Hayley Lovgren as the glitzy, ditzy host of “The Herod Show” where we are the studio audience, instructed to respond to cue cards of “APPLAUSE,” “OOH” and “AHH.”

Herod (Hayley Lovgren) and dancers
I am so glad the lyrics were not “feminized,” i.e. changing he to she, etc. as it would have changed the songs. This play is about the universal human Christ, so it’s not necessary.

Ray of Light's production of Jesus Christ Superstar is such a moving, kinetic experience that I did not want it to end; in fact, I may go back to see it again.


Jesus Christ Superstar

CAST
Maita Ponce (Mary)
Janelle LaSalle (Jesus)
Melinda Campero (Simon)
Sarita Cannon (Priest)
Jennifer Mitchell (Priest)
Angel Adedokun (Peter)
April Deutschle (Apostle)
Madeline Lambie (Apostle)
LeighAnn Cannon (Apostle)
Audrey Baker (Apostle)
Amy Alvino (Priest)
Rachel Witte (Apostle)
Cecily Schmidt (Apostle)
Jillian Bader (Priest)
Crystal Liu (Apostle)
Heather Orth (Caiaphas)
Courtney Merrell (Pilate)
Kathryn Sullivan (Apostle)
Christen Sottolano (Annas)
Sara Altier (Priest)
Jocelyn Pickett (Judas)
Jill Jacobs (Apostle)
Hayley Lovgren (Herod)

PRODUCTION TEAM
Jenn BeVard (Dramaturgy)
Daniel Cadigan (Technical Director)
Connie Carranza (Assistant Stage Manager)
Peet Cocke (Props Designer)
Lori Fowler (Stage Manager)
Chanterelle Grover (Wardrobe Associate)
Anton Hedman (Sound Engineer
Theodore J.H. Hulsker (Sound Designer)
Josh Kirkbride (Spot Operator)
Eliza Leoni (Co-Director)
Kuo-Hao Lo (Set Designer)
Christian V. Mejia (Lighting Director)
Aaron Mills (Spot Operator)
Patrick Nims (Video Coordinator)

Ben Prince (Music Director)
Shane Ray (Co-Director)
Alex Rodriguez (Choreographer)
Erik Scanlon (Video Designer)
Weili Shi (Master Electrician, Assistant Lighting Designer)
Maggie Whitaker (Costume Designer)

MUSICIANS
Ben Prince (Keyboard/Conductor)
Stephen Danska (Guitar)
Travis Kindred (Bass)
Taylor Rankin (Drums)
Ken Brill/Dave Dobrusky (Keyboard 2)









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