By Claire DeMarco
“Jesus Christ Superstar” is loosely based on the Gospels and the well-known story that details the life and times of Jesus Christ (Paulina Bradley) from his adulthood up to His death and resurrection. Although the characters coincide with those portrayed in the Bible, there is more of an emphasis on Judas (Bella McKivigan) and Mary (Emma Zelesnak) and their relation to Jesus. Judas is a tormented soul who appears to have a love/hate relationship with Jesus. We
see Mary as the supportive friend with a suggestion that the relationship might be more than casual.
Bradley’s portrayal of Jesus is multi-dimensional. It is often her facial expressions that convey her emotions. She is both tender and caring but shows anger when confronted by zealots. Ultimately, she is forgiving. Her emotions are highlighted in “Look at All My Trials and Tribulations.”
One sees the pathos in McKivigan’s portrayal of Judas as her mixed feelings about Jesus eventually destroys her. Her nuanced attitude towards Jesus is expressed in the songs she sings. Especially poignant is “Damned for All Time/Blood Money.”
Zelesnak’s rendition of “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” is superb. She easily and believably conveys her love and support for Jesus.
As the wicked Pilate, McHugh is convincing as she berates and physically abuses Jesus.
Shout out to fellow cast members Cara Vereb, Piper Redford, Santina Traficante, Sophia Burik, Keira Mosklaa, Natalie Koenig and Gray Wagner. Job well done.
Note: This is a great production of a well-known musical portrayed by an all-female identifying cast. It is especially gratifying to see this group of highly talented high school and GAP year students successfully tackling these roles.
They are part of The Collective, a pre-professional theater training academy.
Check out their website at wearethecollectivepgh.com for more
details on this innovative program.
The set is minimal with an elevated platform above the stage. There are no set pieces on stage and any props (like microphones on stands) are brought in by the actors themselves. The stage and surroundings are various shades of gray.
Costumes are not period specific but reflect modern day clothing.
Excellent Direction by Artistic Director Michael Campayno.
Note: Depending on the date, some actors’ roles are performed by other members of the cast.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” is a production of The Collective. Performances at Carnegie Stage in Carnegie, PA run from January 11 through January 21.
For more information, click here.