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SAXTONS RIVER, Vt. – What’s the buzz? ask Jesus’ apostles as they wake from sleep in the Garden of Gethsemane to find him being hauled off by Roman soldiers.
Theatergoers are asking the same question as excitement revs up before the curtain rises on the Main Street Arts production of the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar at the Bellows Falls Opera House Thursday, March 29 for the beginning of a two-weekend run.
With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice in what Rolling Stone magazine readers called “one of the ten best musicals of all time,” the production is a modern telling of the passion of Christ as seen through the eyes of his betrayer, Judas Iscariot.
The MSA production features a cast of 50 who work against a dramatic but pared down backdrop that suggests the power of the authorities, the rugged terrain and the horror of the coming crucifixion.
Jesus is played alternately by Sean Roberts and William Sawyer, with Louis Vitale and Andrew Flaherty sharing the role of Judas. Gavy Kessler plays a larger-than-life Pontius Pilate as he struts around on dry waller’s stilts in his black and silver outfit. Herod is brought to life in all his malevolence by Henry O’Connell dressed in a dandy’s feather-decorated outfit, while Mary Magdalene is played dually by Allie McGahie and Hannah Hoffman.
The global phenomenon of the musical has wowed audiences for more than 45 years since its Broadway debut in 1971, and its songs have entered the lexicon of classics: “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Everything’s Alright,” and the almost-universally recognized title song.
The MSA production is directed by David Stern, with Ken Olsson as musical director and Annesa Hartman as choreographer. Sandy Klein and her assistant Veda Crewe have created costumes that are both fanciful (think Burning Man) and evocative. Stage design is by Stern, with a crew that includes Edward Dinnany and John “Chip” O’Brien. Stage manager is Barbie Kurkul, assisted by Ronnie Friedman.
In addition to Thursday’s opening, show times are Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31 and April 6 and 7, all at 7:30 p.m., with matinees both Saturdays at 2 p.m.
Tickets, with reserved seating, range from $10 to $40, depending on the performance and whether student or adult. There is a 10 per cent discount for purchases of 10 or more tickets, and 20 per cent for purchases of 20 or more.
Reservations can be made and seating selected at or by calling (802) 869-2960.
Photo: Malcolm Blue