Barley Sheaf Players will present a modern twist on 'Jesus Christ Superstar'
● By J. Chambless
Steve Carrasco as Jesus (Photo by Katie Farnum)
By Doug Schultz
This Easter season, the Barley Sheaf
Players will present “Jesus Christ Superstar,” the high-energy
rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice that tells the story
of the last week of Jesus’ life.
While the story is loosely based on the Gospel accounts, the show explores the human aspects of Jesus, including his relationship with Judas Iscariot.
The original 1971 Broadway production (and subsequent 1973 film adaptation) were quite traditional in sticking to the historical setting of Jesus’ time. The lyrics, however, include many intentional anachronisms, including contemporary slang. The Barley Sheaf production focuses on the contemporary themes that pervade the material, including the worship and allure of celebrity, popularity, and the fear of change.
Director Michele Bolay said that setting the show in a contemporary time and place allowed her to cast the show in a non-traditional way. She has sought to capitalize on the diverse talents of the Barley Sheaf community, and has cast the show in unexpected ways, including casting women as apostles and making the cast as racially diverse as possible.
The role of Judas Iscariot will be played by Barley Sheaf veteran Elizabeth Wheeler. For her, the opportunity is a dream come true. She has wanted to play the role for 25 years. With a female Judas, the relationship dynamic between Judas and Jesus becomes something new. Themes of love and jealousy can be explored in a new realm that audiences may not have seen before.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” will be staged at the Barley Sheaf Playhouse (810 N. Whitford Rd., Lionville) on March 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 and 26 at 8 p.m., and March 13 and 20 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $17 for adults, $13 for students (18 and younger) and seniors. Visit www.barleysheaf.org or call 610-363-7075.