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Jesus Christ Superstar

Where: Janice B. Streeter Theatre, 14 Court St., Nashua
When: Friday, July 14, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, July 15, at 2 & 8 p.m.; Sunday, July 16, at 2 p.m.
Admission: $15-$17
Contact: actorsingers.org




Rock on
Teens take on Jesus Christ Superstar

07/13/17
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 The Nashua Actorsingers have been pretty rock and roll lately, between last summer’s American Idiot and the fall 2016 production of Rock of Ages. This weekend’s Jesus Christ Superstar follows suit.

The Teen Actorsingers present it at the Janice B. Streeter Theater stage Friday, July 14, through Sunday, July 16. Angèlica Rosenthal directs, Jesse Drake musically directs, Logan Higgins choreographs and Kyle Wolcott is the producer. 
“I wanted to present a rock show kids could participate in,” said Rosenthal, who performed in both American Idiot and Rock of Ages and proposed the musical to the company. “This is one of my favorite shows of all time. I think it’s one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s best.”
The ’70s rock opera features music by Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice and is loosely based on the gospels’ accounts of the last weeks of Jesus’s life, highlighting the political and interpersonal struggles between Judas Iscariot and Jesus not present in Bible narratives. It premiered on Broadway in 1971 and is sung through from start to finish.
This rendition is set in a post-apocalyptic future with an industrial rock setting, complete with barbed wire, trash cans, rusting staircases and Seattle grunge attire. Rosenthal, who loves science fiction, was inspired by the turn the genre has taken the past decade.
“What I’ve noticed in science fiction is that when I was growing up it all used to be space travel, like Star Trek. Now, as I look at that genre, I see things like Mad Max and The Walking Dead. Rather than a society moving forward … [writers envision] throwing everything away and rebuilding a future,” Rosenthal said. “[The show] is very pliable. We could have done it traditionally in Jerusalem or in Montana or the Land of Oz — it probably would form to almost any setting.”
Cast members range in age from 13 to 19, which can be difficult with such a mature show. There are themes of suicide, death, oppression, power and the wish to remain true to oneself and do what’s right. Rosenthal said it was controversial when it first came out, but she’s found the community very supportive, including the kids’ parents. It’s been important to her she maintain a constant dialogue with cast members about the content of  the show throughout the entire process.
“A lot of people kind of shy away from the real darkness in the show, but it was important to me not to do that,” Rosenthal said. “But it’s also important that when [actors] walk out of the theater, they leave their character in the theater. When the curtain falls at the end of the show, the character is done. We worked on a lot of techniques to make sure that happens.”
Performing as Mary Magdalene is Kelli Loughlin, who was convinced into auditioning after meeting the directing crew while working behind the scenes for Rock of Ages. As a Sunday school teacher, Loughlin is particularly familiar with the story and loves this new perspective of it. She thinks it’s timeless, applicable to any period, and Rosenthal agrees. 
“In my opinion, it’s very relatable to now and will be relatable 100 years from now,” Rosenthal said. 





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