Produced by special arrangement with the Rodgers & Hammerstein Theatre Library
Friday, September 16 - 7:30p
Saturday, September 17 - 7:30p
Sunday, September 18 - 2:00p
Allegany-Limestone High School Auditorium
Broadway's first full-fledged rock opera came from two British newcomers, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and librettist Tim Rice. Jesus Christ Superstar began life as a best-selling British studio recording. The intriguing premise was to examine the role popular fame played in Christ's fate.
At times fresh and impertinent, and ponderous at others, JCS was a world away from the rock musicals of the late 1960s. With all dialogue set to music, this work qualified as the first rock opera.
With this hit, Webber and Rice initiated a new creative era for musical theatre.
ABOUT THE STORY
Jesus Christ Superstar chronicles the last seven days in the life of Jesus of Nazareth as seen through the eyes of his disciple, Judas Iscariot, who has become disillusioned with the movement. At the opening of the play, Judas agonizes over his perception that Jesus' followers have become fanatical and unrealistic, hailing him as a god and twisting his words into monstrous prophecies. After all, in Judas' mind, Jesus is only a man--a
man with certain inconsistencies, as evidenced by his relationship with Mary Magdalene.
As the crowds in the street grow more and more out of control, the rift between Jesus and Judas grows. After watching Jesus lose control in the temple, lashing out at the moneylenders and merchants, then begging to be left alone when a crowd of cripples surround him asking to be healed, Judas is more convinced than ever that the man from Nazareth is just that--a man, and nothing more. He determines that Jesus, having lost control of the mob, has become dangerous and must be stopped. He goes to the priests and gives them all the information they need to catch Jesus alone so that they can take him prisoner without risking violence by the mob. After leading the soldiers to Gethsemane, however, and watching the events that unfold, Judas soon realizes that he has been tricked by God into being the instrument of Jesus martyrdom. Furious that the man from Nazareth will be remembered as a "Superstar," Judas hangs himself.
Originally appearing as a sound recording because producers were afraid to take a chance on such a daring production, Jesus Christ Superstar eventually premiered at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York on October 12, 1971 with Ben Vereen (Judas), Jeff Fenholt (Jesus), Yvonne Elliman (Mary), Barry Dennen (Pilate), and Paul Ainsley (Herod). Despite opposition from certain religious groups, this production became a huge boxoffice hit and ran for 720 performances. The 1973 film version featured Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson.