As our upcoming production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR approaches, we sat down with the director, Eric Woodall, and asked him to reflect on and share his vision for the 1970s rock opera, opening in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in correspondence with the Easter season.
When describing his interpretation for the time-honored show Eric explains, “our production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR explores the Roman-Biblical setting of Jesus’ final days through the eyes of contemporary, modern storytellers. This multicultural, diverse cast represents all people, allowing this timeless story to feel completely inclusive and current.”
Featuring a diverse cast of talented actors, this show gives human elements to well-known biblical icons, such as Jesus of Nazareth, Pontius Pilate, Judas Iscariot, and Mary Magdalene, providing audience members a powerful connection to each of them. “Based upon historic figures in the Gospels, we are concentrating on the core “human” aspects of these people as they have been interpreted by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice,” says Eric.
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR allows people to see Jesus as a human being, like themselves, who has to go through the trials of humanity. The audiences see Jesus as perfect, but able to feel the hurt of every event leading to His betrayal and death.
The messages of this show resonate with all who see it. For believers and non-believers, the Bible provides incredible stories about people who experience indescribable world-changing events. JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR is one of several biblical-fictions that tell the interpretive back-story of these stories. Creators, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, express their interpretation of what this story means for our lives. In a nation divided, how do we approach one another? Do we yell “crucify Him” against those we don’t agree with or understand, or do we stand alongside them and see the world through their eyes?
As we struggle with the conflict of our present world, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR gives an opportunity to see ourselves mirrored in the emotion in the story. People can relate to the apostles, wondering what will happen to them if they stand up for what they believe, or Jesus, feeling betrayed by those around him, or Judas, feeling remorse for his actions and struggling with being seen as a villain for standing up for what he thought was right. Both of these characters questioning “why me?”
Eric explained, “two recurring questions that have motivated me through the research/preparation period are ‘Why me?’ and ‘Why not me?’...The inner turmoil and acceptance of a ‘calling’ can be magnificent and daunting at the same time. This rumination represents one of the greatest human struggles of all time.”
Theatre gives us the ability to feel and experience deeply. This story adds a deep, full experience to this season of Easter. Eric says, “There is a responsibility to tell such a majestic and important story with grace, respect, and heart.” The show provides an interpretation to the unknown backstory that occurs in between these events, including assumptions about how difficult it must have been for each character during this intense experience as mere humans living out a massive, world-changing, and godly event.
“The incredible rock music and contemporary text allows modern-day audiences to see themselves in this story, encouraging each one of us to ask larger questions of faith, leadership and belief...all while humming along to some of the greatest songs ever written.”
NC Theatre’s production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR runs April 11-16 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh.
PHOTO: Director, Eric Woodall, with Kara Lindsay ("Mary") during North Carolina Theatre's 2016 production of MARY POPPINS. Eric returns to his home state of North Carolina to direct JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. Photo by Curtis Brown Photography.