Spring Musical Opens Palm Sunday Weekend


Devin Towne will star as Jesus Christ in Sacred Heart University’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Photo by Sacred Heart University Theater Arts Program.

By Stephanie Pettway

Staff Reporter

The Sacred Heart University’s Theatre Arts Program is bringing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” to the Edgerton Center for Performing Arts stage on Palm Sunday weekend.

The critically and publicly acclaimed rock opera is a blend of rock, heavy metal and theatrical pop.

According to the “Jesus Christ Superstar” website, the show is a “timeless work set against the backdrop of an extraordinary and universally known series of events but seen, unusually, through the eyes of Judas Iscariot.”

However, the program is taking a different approach by performing a more contemporary adaption.

“Our director definitely has his own interpretation of the show, so we are putting our own twist on our production,” said freshman
Lauren Celentano, who is playing Mary Magdalene. “It is being presented as a re-imagined version.”

The goal of their adaption is to retell the story of Jesus in a way that relates to today’s society.

“The story that we are telling is not just a story, but a way of life that is still alive today,” said senior Nicholas Patino, President of the Theatre Arts Program, cast member and producer of the show.

Two major roles in the production are Jesus and Judas, played by junior Devin Towne and sophomore Henley Solomon.

“Playing the role of Judas has certainly been a stretch for me. It’s easy to play a character with a bad name and depict him as the villain, but it’s a little more difficult to make an unrelatable character real and human for the audience to empathize with him,” said Solomon.

While being a devout Catholic, Towne felt that in order to embody Jesus and depict him accurately, it required more than just a physical appearance.

“[Jesus] is different than many roles I have played or have seen played before. To get a grasp of the empathy and internal struggles that fuel Jesus throughout the last seven days of his life, each moment in the production needs to be stripped to the core,” said Towne. “Without the character work, the audience would get nothing more than another recount of the biblical story. It takes a lot more than long hair to get into character for this role.”

The rehearsal process for the show has included both musical and technical preparation.

“The rehearsal process for a musical starts with learning all the musical numbers with the musical director, Leo Carusone. This is especially important in this show because it is a rock opera and all sung,” said Patino. “From there we start staging with the director, Jerry Goehring. Everything comes together as we start adding technical aspects.”

“Jesus Christ Superstar” opens in the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, April 6 and runs until Sunday, April 9.

Performances times are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m.

To purchase tickets, visit the Box Office in the Edgerton lobby or online at http://edgertoncenter.org/theatre_arts.php.

The cast and crew are ready for the surrounding community to see the work they’ve put into their production.

“Now that we are getting closer and closer to opening night, the energy and intensity is at an all-time high,” said Towne. “I promise you that this is a show you would regret not buying a ticket to.”

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