JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR
Te Auaha - Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington
17/09/2020 - 26/09/2020
Haunting. Iconic. Timeless.
In a year marking the show’s 50th anniversary, we’re thrilled to announce our highly anticipated grand-scale production from Whitireia Musical Theatre: Jesus Christ Superstar.
From concept-album beginnings, to weeks at the top of the Billboard pop charts and countless star-studded retellings on film and stage, this epic rock n roll re-imagining of the last days of Christ has maintained an eerily prescient relevance since its inception in 1970.
Stirring music and powerful lyrics from superstar creators Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice render prophets, political rebels, power-mongers and scapegoats with heart-breaking clarity; creating an operatic masterpiece that continues to inspire, move, and transport audiences and performers alike.
Director Leigh Evans and musical director Kate Marshall have created a Jesus Christ Superstar to excite both fans and newcomers. This vision firmly honours the show’s 70’s rock roots, speaks to its influences, and brings fresh perspectives to casting and staging. Powerhouse performers from last year’s critically acclaimed sold-out production of Cry-Baby: The Musical and 2018’s The Addams Family are joined by an astonishingly talented company from across the Musical Theatre student body to present a Jesus Christ Superstar worthy of joining the 50 year legacy of one of the genre’s greatest works.
Please book with confidence.
The government has confirmed that New Zealand’s nationwide COVID alert level will remain at Level Two until 11.59pm Wednesday September 16th, the day before Jesus Christ Superstar is due to open at Te Auaha.
Understandably, many of you may now be feeling a degree of uncertainty about your bookings.
Please know that we will do everything we can to keep you informed about the status of this production, and your options. In the unfortunate event that we need to cancel some or all of the shows, full refunds would be issued to all affected parties. Keep an eye on your inbox for updates, and check www.teauahaevents.com for information on how Te Auaha is responding to – and operating under – the changing situation. You can also reach out to us with any questions or concerns by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, a huge thank you to you all for the support you’ve already shown for this production and our students by purchasing tickets, sending messages and helping us promote Superstar on social media. It means a lot to know you’re hanging in there with us, and we hope to see you here soon.
Te Auaha, Tapere Nui – Level One
65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington 6011
17 – 26 September 2020
Jesus: Devon Neiman
Judas: Moana Leota
Mary: Holly Main-Grant
Pilate: Flora Dryburgh
Caiaphas: Isaac Andrews
Simon: Jade Thomson
King Herod: Bentley Stevenson
Peter: Harrison Nicol
Annas: Rebecca Ansell
Priest: Lane Corby
Ensemble: Tineifoualii Sauni
Ensemble: Phoebe I’Anson
Ensemble/Dancer: Molly Wake
Ensemble: Renee Simanu
Ensemble: Scott Snoad
Ensemble: Sam Czepanski
Ensemble/Dancer: Rachael Leask
Ensemble/Dancer: Kaitlin West
Ensemble/Dancer: Emma Salzano
Ensemble: Luci McDougall
Ensemble: Erin Bickley
Ensemble: Mathew Hatten
Ensemble: Lillie Bell
Ensemble: Jennifer Lewis
Ensemble: Oliver Smyth
Ensemble: Charlotte Oldershaw
Ensemble/Dancer: Meg Leadbeater
Ensemble: Britt Sera
Ensemble: Mikayla Lehmann
Ensemble/Dancer: Aria Leader-FiaMatai
Ensemble: Dom Van Berg
Ensemble: Erica Dekker
Ensemble: Stacey Dalziel
Ensemble: Adriana Calbrese
Director: Leigh Evans
Producer: Kate Marshall
Musical Director: Kate Marshall
Choreographer: Kate Marshall
Staging By: Leigh Evans
Lighting Design: Shaun Martin
Lighting Operation: Shaun Martin & Lucas Zaner
Sound Design: Chris Harris (Cipher Sound)
Sound Operator: Chris Hayward
Set Design: Ben Emerson
Set Construction: Scafworx LTD
Publicity: Ben Emerson
Poster & Programme: Bentley Stevenson & Ben Emerson
Photos: Roc+ Photography
Stage Manager: Mycah Keall & Mia Alonzo-Green
Box Office Manager: Kate Anderson & Linda Wilson
Venues Manager: Will Harris
Technical Manager: James Kearney
Production Tech: Patrick Barnes & Shaun Martin
Venues Producer: Olivia Kirikiri
Front of House Manager: Claire McGoff
In House Production Co Ordinator: Nell Williams
Theatre , Rock Opera ,
Slick and raw, vibrant and stark, brutal and ultimately inspiring
Review by Georgia Jamieson Emms 18th Sep 2020
Having been blown away by Te Auaha’s production of Cry Baby in 2019, I have high expectations for Jesus Christ Superstar, one of the better Lloyd Webber musicals (alongside Evita, Joseph and Phantom, in this reviewer’s humble opinion). The creative team of Leigh Evans and Kate Marshall have not let me down, devising a show that is equally slick and raw, vibrant and stark, brutal and ultimately inspiring.
As Judas (Moana Leota) takes the stage for the opening number, I know we are in for a very different Superstar, and thank goodness. This show is a veritable sausage fest, with only one female role (Mary Magdalene). With Judas in a leather mini-skirt and Doc Martens, there is a different chemistry between her and Jesus. Her apparent jealousy of Jesus’ relationship with Mary, and the way she casually slut-shames Mary, adds another layer to this character. The only downside to a female actor taking on a traditionally male part is that Leota’s low notes are occasionally lost, simply because she is singing in a male vocal range, and transposition would have upset the flow of the show.
The chorus bursts onto the stage with ‘What’s the Buzz, dressed like they’re ready for Coachella, and actually the show does have a festival vibe to it, from the hippie-chic costuming to the stadium set-up scaffolding and rock lighting (extremely cool lighting design by Shaun Martin). This is a rock musical, after all. The appearance of three terrifying vampiric priests high up on the scaffold (Isaac Andrews, Rebecca Ansell and Lane Corby) would not have been out of place at a heavy metal gig, and on closer inspection they are draped in punk chains and gothic makeup. As a result, their ‘Jesus Must Die’ is quite chilling.
As Mary, Holly Main-Grant is lovely, both vocally and in her gentle, natural performance. Her ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him’ (the show’s big hit, I would argue) is a really beautiful moment of calm in the flurry of the first act.
The Temple scene is a riot of colours and belly dancing and chaos, until Jesus tears the place apart and then is nearly torn apart himself by lepers, the poor, the blind, who threaten to drown him in a sea of bodies. Jesus’s desperation is palpable in Devon Neiman’s performance as he accuses his apostles of betraying him, and he and Judas have a heated confrontation.
Later, Neiman’s star is allowed to shine in the soliloquoy ‘Gethsemane’. He gives everything here; but there is more to come and his energy and committed to the character never wanes. When the crown of thorns is placed on Jesus’s head, the harrowing scream from Neiman sends chills down the spine.
With each musical number I am reminded about how great the music is in this show. One banger after another. There is also heaps for the chorus to do: Leigh Evans’ direction here is so clever as no cast member is without motivation at any moment in the show; they all have their character and their purpose. The girls heading to Coachella in Act 1 return in leather for Act 2, with vocals shrill and frightening, like harpies screaming for blood as they come to arrest Jesus.
The only criticism I have of the show is the use of a backing track rather than live musicians. I do feel that this takes something away from the performance, as a recording is never going to feel as exciting as a real band.
There are some great performances from actors in supporting roles. Jade Thomson, oozing charisma and Gospel queen vocals as Simon; Bentley Stevenson’s campy, feathered, tap-dancing King Herod; and in an inspired casting choice, Flora Dryburgh as Pilate, who, despite being clad in latex and quite terrifying, is genuinely torn about crucifying Jesus. This was a wonderfully acted scene by Neiman and Dryburgh.
Spoiler-alert: Jesus is crucified at the end. The image of Neiman dripping blood and hanging from the scaffolding, and the sound of hammers on metal as he is nailed to the cross are burned in my brain. In these last moments of Jesus’s life, whatever your religious beliefs, I dare anyone not to feel something.
Covid-19 restrictions in place, with only sixteen audience members in the stalls, each one of us feels exceptionally lucky to be there and we whoop and applaud as loudly as we can. My heart goes out to the young artists and their tutors who have put so much time and energy into creating a show that will not be seen by nearly enough people. But like the professionals they are, they perform Superstar as if it were to a full house and for that I take my hat off to them.
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