‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ at Vilar in Beaver Creek
Vail CO, Colorado
BEAVER CREEK, Colorado ” Editor’s note: Director’s Corner is a weekly column where Kris Sabel, who is in charge of cultural programming for the Vail Valley Foundation, gives his expert take on shows not to be missed.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” (JCS), the groundbreaking theatrical masterpiece by the legendary writing team of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber is coming to the Vilar Performing Arts Center for three performances Friday and Saturday.
The first collaboration between Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber to be performed on the professional stage, JCS is one of the most popular and enduring works ever created for the musical theatre. Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber also collaborated on two other very successful musicals, “Joseph and The Amazing Technical Color Dream Coat” and “Evita.”
Set in two acts, JCS tells the story of the final seven days in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. JCS dramatizes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the unrest caused by his preaching and popularity, his betrayal by Judas, the trial before Pontius Pilate, and his ultimate crucifixion. Perpetually changing the face of musical theatre, JCS will leave audiences captivated by its power.
Originally an audio-recording, “Superstar” was the first true rock opera, using both classical and rock elements in the musical arrangements. It was later staged on Broadway and in London’s West End. The title song, “Superstar,” sung by Judas, and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” sung by Mary Magdalene about her relationship with Jesus, were both big hits. But I find all of the music captivating and instantly recognizable.
I fell in love with this show by listening to the album when it came out in 1970 ” when I was still a Catholic school boy. While my parents were initially concerned about this rock ‘n’ roll take on the life of Jesus, they eventually realized my passion for the work and my father took me to see the first national tour in Milwaukee for my 13th birthday. I eventually wore that album out and replaced it on vinyl, CD and ultimately, now, it’s on my iPod. I know this will sound blasphemous to those Andrew Lloyd Webber fans of “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera,” but I truly believe this is his best and most enduring work. Tim Rice’s lyrics are as brilliant today as there were in 1970.
This national tour stars Ted Neeley who has played the title role on and off for 30 years. Critics still rave about his performance, writing: ” …he carried off Jesus … in a triumph of the soul. Those high, agonized ‘Gethsemane’ vocals wailed, cracked and soared, and Neeley took advantage of his slightly huskier voice to curl out some foreboding low notes. It being well over 30 years since Neeley appeared in the 1973 Norman Jewison movie version, there’s delicious irony in the words… This mature production surpasses the general run of remakes and, rather than redoing Rice/Webber’s complex statement, ripens it.”
I have had the fortune to help produce this show twice before, and each time I fall in love with it all over again. I look forward to doing so again this weekend. I hope you will join me for what promises to be an exceptional night of musical theatre at the Vilar.
Rounding out the weekend, we have a fun-filled show for all ages as Jamie Adkins brings his “Circus Incognitus” show to the Vilar Center stage. Bring out the entire family to enjoy this accomplished clown, comedian and aerialist in what promises to be a delightful show.
We hope to see you at the Vilar!