There’s something about high school productions that is just FUN. The energy and enthusiasm, the clearly talented (that make you think, hey, I knew them when) and the plucky that sell their characters with aplomb, talent be damned. Few musicals are more demanding of talent and staging smarts than Jesus Christ Superstar – but Momma T’s has a history of tackling challenging musicals (past productions include Little Shop of Horrors and Rent).
I took the show in twice – the Thursday opening night and the Saturday matinee. The matinee was much tighter; It was obvious the show had matured considerably in just a couple days. It’s a shame the Cappies reviewers covered opening night – the matinee was a much better show.
The roles were well cast – triply important because some key parts have significant demands on vocal range. While there were moments when these talents might have done more with less, rather than trying too hard, their delivery was impressive nonetheless.
Antonio Pezoules in the lead role of Jesus wisely kept the melody within his effective range by rewriting a couple of phrases, rather than straining. Kayla Bernard as Mary Magdalene nailed every phrase, every note; a superb job. Fabulous work by Andriy Cherwick and Andres Cutillas as Pilate and Herod. It was very satisfying to hear a deep, growly bass from Ryan Spero as Caiaphas and an urgent high tenor from Marco Gioriani as Judas.
I was impressed by the ambitious set – which ranged from the stage down the center of the house to the back of the auditorium. The use of follow spots to light the action in the house was inspired – enabling the set to work while fitting into a high school lighting budget. I noticed that the band was off-score and very much on top of the music – truly impressive. I have to tip my hat to the techs, who were hitting their cues without headsets.
Kudos to director Linke and choreographer Kuthkewich for successfully staging a challenging production that effectively employed a very large chorus. It was a treat, visually and musically.
The stars of the show, of course, were my daughters Katie and Megan – upstaging the leads entirely just by being on the stage. (Ok, that’s entirely a subjective thing, but I’m a proud Dad, what can I say?) If my photos feature them a little heavily, I make no apologies, lol.