Human and Divine
The Shorewood Players are finishing up their 78th season with a production of the opera that, despite some problematic choices, points out the strengths of the music and lyrics built around the last seven days in Christ’s mortal life.
Jesus Christ Superstar was revolutionary—and controversial—in its day for its contemporary approach to Christ, its use of slang and its references to modern-day sensibilities. In particular was the focus on Judas, whose perspective guides us throughout this one hour, 45-minute production (including intermission) which is completely sung.Judas becomes increasingly concerned about Christ’s claims as the Messiah as well as His apparent lack of a divine plan.
This Judas, played by Shane Morgan, has all the right moves, literally. Morgan plays Judas as a “playa” and fills the stage with exuberant energy and tricked out moves. However, the complex score with its shifting rhythms resulted in Morgan straining to reach notes as it did at times for other actors.
Director Terry Grazer has also created a first of sorts; he’s added children to the cast, which added a nice touch, given Christ’s focus on children.However, with 70 actors in this show, the traditional proscenium stage felt crowded at times, making it challenging to focus on the main and supporting characters, while others on stage simply stood and watched the ongoing action.
Kathryn Williams offered a lovely, sensitive portrayal of Mary Magdalene, her clear soprano evoking emotion and tenderness on “Everything’s Alright” and in particular “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”
But it is Adam Werlein’s depiction of Jesus that
really stands out in this Jesus Christ Superstar.Werlein captures the earthly persona of
Christ, exposing the fears and doubts of what awaits Him. Werlein sang and
acted the role well throughout the challenging score, especially on the
climactic Act I closer, “
Jesus Christ Superstar runs through June 29 at The
Shorewood High School Auditorium located at the corner of