BCT presents ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

Just a month after Mel Gibson’s controversial film “The Passion of The Christ” opened in theaters across the nation, Bremerton Community Theatre is presenting a play that stirred up waters in the 70s — “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

The Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera that depicts the last seven hours of Jesus’ life opens Thursday, April 1 in the East Bremerton Theatre. The play will be performed at 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and at 2:30 p.m. on Sundays through May 2.

Both the Gibson film and the play depict the scenarios surrounding Jesus’ death, although “Jesus Christ Superstar” is a completely fictional story based on the Bible, as seen through the eyes of Jesus’ betrayer, Judas.

In the Bremerton Community Theatre performance, Judas is played by John Mixom, who struggled with the task of playing a character who is predominantly evil.

“But the combination of his acting and his singing is very incredible,” said the play’s director David Noonan.

Jesus is “just a man” to Judas. However, after Judas betrays Jesus, he realizes the error of his ways later in the play.

Jesus Christ, or “J.C.” as Noonan so kindly termed him, is played by Gary Chambers.

“It’s emotionally draining for him,” Noonan said. “The first times through the crucifiction it was so overwhelming he had to leave the stage.”

Chambers is a first tenor, able to hit high notes that most grown men could never touch.

Noonan said the crucifiction scene and the hanging of Judas later in the play are two of the most complicated things to ever be done on stage.

The play has never been performed before in Kitsap County.

“That was a big deal for me,” said Noonan. “To do something that has never been done before.”

Although he calls the timing of “Jesus Christ Superstar” with the opening of the Passion of the Christ a great coincidence “we didn’t plan on it.”

People should see the play because it gives you a new perspective on the crucifiction of Christ, Noonan said.

“When this came out in the 70s there was a lot of protesting about it,” he said. Since he started directing it in January, a couple people have sent him e-mails saying they don’t think its a good idea for him to put it on.

“I had a guy at work that said ‘it’s offensive to my God,’ ” he said.

All 38 members of the cast are volunteer. There is even a live band, with synthesizer, strings, drums and guitar.

Joel Skellie is the musical director. He is also the choral director at the Bremerton Symphony.

Originally conceived as a rock album in 1970 with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, “Jesus Christ Superstar” premiered at the Mark Hellinger Theatre in New York on October 12, 1971. The production was an instant hit and ran for 720 performances.

Initially it was protested by religious groups, but its popularity made it a feature film in 1973. The musical was revived on stage in the early 1990s.

For ticket information, contact the Bremerton Theatre box office at (360) 373-5152.

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