Jesus Christ Superstar: God and Everyone Else is Listening

Photos: Copyright The Boston Conservatory. Max Wagenblass, photographer.

presented by The Boston Conservatory

Music by Andrew Lloyd Weber.
Lyrics by Tim Rice.

Directed by Neil Donohoe
Music Direction by Bill Casey.
Conducted by Reuben M. Reynolds, III.
Choreographed by Michelle Chasse.

The Boston Conservatory Theater
Boston, MA

October 18 – 21, 2012

(Boston) It started out as a lovely evening. Boston Conservatory’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar is excellent – not only as a student production but as a piece of art comparable to professional area theater. The students in Friday’s performance were electric on the stage, filling every crevice in the theater with palpable, thrumming energy. Their acting was fine, their dance was great and their vocals blew the roof off. The modern dance choreographed by Michelle Chasse lends itself well to this updated production. The subtle yet evocative lighting design by Franklin Meissner Jr. was the cherry on the performance sundae. It is a good show.

JSC occurs in the modern-day Syria where Jesus (Marc Koeck) is a terrorist, Pontius Pilot (Stephen Markarian) a businessman, and Harod (Cole Ragsdale) a thinly veiled Saddam Hussein. There are male and female Apostles and they are Jesus’ groupies. (Modern historians argue that Jesus had both in his troupe so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see them in the show.) Mary (Chelsea de Lacy)  and Jesus are their R-Patz and KStew, their Middle Eastern Hollywood icons that first get built up and then horribly torn down. Koeck presents Jesus as a good but flawed man weary from fame and heavy with anxiety. He struggles to be both the man his People need and expect him to be. De Lacy’s tender Mary is the only person who sympathises with his humanity.

Jordan Fantauzzo plays Judas as a man suffering under the weight of preconceived civil duty. Despite Judas’s despicable acts, Fantauzzo presents him as passionate, a man worthy of compassion. Bravo.

So, after seeing such a good show, I was prepared for my theater experience to end well. That was until I visited the lady’s room and overheard two students griping about the show. In particular about casting. In specific about the alternate-performance Mary Magdelene, Lauren Kidwell. I will not repeat what was said but I will say that it was unkind, judgemental and concerned the physique of Ms. Kidwell.

Ladies and gentleman of the Boston Conservatory Student Body, if you learn one thing about the theater it should be this: Don’t shit where you eat. You can think what you want in the privacy of your own mind, in your own home or in places like the woods where only the bears can hear you bitch. Saying things like what those young women said in a public place could get you fired or black-listed. And, frankly, it should. You are students at a fine institution and your behavior reflects back on your staff, professors and the community that fosters you. BoCo is my Alma Mater and, if you’re lucky, will be yours too. It deserves respect.

As fate has it, Ms. Kidwell will get to perform for the majority of the scheduled performances. Now, Ms. de Lacy was a lovely Mary Magdelene; she is a talented young woman and it is obvious why she was cast. One can only conclude that Ms. Lauren Kidwell was cast for the same reason: her talent. Ms. Kidwell, I can’t be at your last performances but I will be cheering you on from far offstage. You must have talent and talent makes bitter people bitch a lot.

Fuck ‘em.

If they’re talking then you are probably doing something right.

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