with Dustin LeBlanc of Carlisle Theatre Company
This weekend, the Carlisle Theatre Company opens Jesus Christ Superstar the iconic and Tony Award-winning rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Originally produced in 1970 as an album, with Ian Gillian of Deep Purple as Jesus, the show has received many awards. Throughout the decades, numerous rock, pop and rap musicians have performed in productions of this show.
Kids Theatre News caught up with Dustin LeBlanc, artistic director of Carlisle Theatre Company, and got his take on this spectacular show.
KTN: Why did you want to do this show at CTC?
LeBlanc: Jesus Christ Superstar has always been a show that we have looked forward to tackling, but we knew the timing had to be right. Last year, we were fortunate enough to produce the regional community debut of Monty Python’s Spamalot, which features a male heavy cast. We got such a strong turnout of talent that we thought we would strike while the irons were hot, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the stellar cast we have for this show. We are so fortunate to have so many incredibly talented performers in the greater central PA region, and this show is an example of that, as we feature performers who live in a wide geographical range of areas and represent almost every theatre organization in the area.
KTN: What do you hope the theatre-goers will take away from this production?
LeBlanc: The version of Jesus Christ Superstar that audiences will see is unlike any production they have seen before. Inspired by the successful UK/Australia Live Arena Tour, our version looks and feels like a rock concert, and is very modernized. We have taken the setting to modern times to really illustrate the message of the show in a very relatable and meaningful way. You will notice how technology and social media would really feed into the frenzy today and how it is very easy for a powerful message to get lost or become secondary when the promise of instant fame and celebrity status is present. There are parallels between the staging and modern events, such as the followers of Jesus having an Occupy movement feel, a flashy TV host exhorting a manageable mob to judge the Son of God by texting their verdict, and watching a political star lose the ability to behave strategically to name a few. You will join us on a high energy, emotional ride as you see the events of the last week of Jesus’s life through the eyes of Judas, Pilate, and Jesus’s Apostles, and how that message and ‘hype’ surrounding Jesus would look in a modern setting.
KTN: What do you feel the impact of JCS has been on rock music in general?
LeBlanc: Hair really opened the door for the rock musical, and Jesus Christ Superstar cemented the status and importance of the rock musical or rock opera. It created a new genre, and one that still exists and flourishes today. It was a new way of storytelling that brought in an entirely different audience; one that might not typically have gone to a theater to see a more traditional show. It is truly a timeless tale that can be set and staged in many ways. It always feels relevant, and there is always a message to be taken from the show, despite one’s religious or political affiliations. We have a fantastic collection of performers, live musicians, and a great crew. Our version is a homage to rock music and rock concerts, including using live camera feeds to capture the emotion of the actors’ faces regardless of where audience members are seated. It is something not to miss for sure!
Jesus Christ Superstar runs Oct 10, 11, 17 & 18 at 7:30p and Oct 12 & 19 at 2p. Sponsored by R.S. Mowery & Sons
Tickets available at www.carlisletheatre.org or call the Carlisle Theatre box office at 717-258-0666