When Jesus Christ Superstar hits the Imperial Theatre stage on May 26 observant audience members might notice a new approach to make the sound bigger and cleaner.
This is the first time veteran director Carrie Beauchamp of Hidden Talents has moved the orchestra out of the pit and onto the stage.
Ten musicians will be behind a curtain and raised seven feet into the air on scaffolding, all to provide more space for them and better miking of the instruments, says Beauchamp.
“It all comes down to the sound,” she explained.
And moving the orchestra out of the pit, which is in front of the stage, allows the stage to be extended and the action to move closer to the audience.
It’s a winning combination that Beauchamp, a veteran music director and big fan of Jesus Christ Superstar, is excited about.
Beauchamp started Hidden Talents more than 20 years ago with an annual Christmas production and musical theatre camp for kids in the summer.
Every few years, she also produces a big-scale musical. The last one was Les Miserables in 2014.
Beauchamp has always loved Jesus Christ Superstar, an Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice collaboration that debuted on Broadway in 1971. Jesus’ final days on earth are depicted through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. The music features an unforgettable line up of rock opera that has stood the test of time.
Many songs were huge hits such as ‘I Don’t Know How To Love Him,’ ‘What’s the Buzz?’ and ‘Superstar.’
The challenge in Sarnia was finding enough strong male singers to fill the 10 male lead roles.
“Men are hard to come by,” said Beauchamp. “Most shows have more women.”
But during auditions, she was happy to fill every lead part except for three apostles.
That meant getting the word out to local singers who have never performed on stage. New people were found and are proving a good fit, said Beauchamp.
“This show brought in new people who have been working extremely hard,” she said. “I can see they are just loving it. I think they’ve been bit by the bug.”
Hidden Talents’ version of Jesus Christ Superstar is modernized with innovative costuming and sets.
“It’s the same music and the same storyline, of course, but it doesn’t have the traditional, biblical feel of the movie,” said Beauchamp.
“I’m not a fan of the movie.”
The Hidden Talents version is also a large production. In total, there are 49 cast members including several children.
In the lead roles are Steve Thrasher as Jesus, Bil Eldridge as Judas and Gab Munro as Mary Magdalene.
The production team includes Beauchamp, choreographer Nicole Humble and music conductor Dan Sonier.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Hidden Talents Jesus Christ Superstar
WHEN: Friday, May 26 – Saturday, June 3 at 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.
WHERE: Imperial Theatre, 168 Christina St. N.
TICKETS: $36 adults; $30 seniors; $25 children. At the box office or call 519-332-7469 or online at www.imperialtheatre.net.
The Arts Journal focuses on Sarnia’s cultural fabric. Forward any ideas to [email protected] or call Cathy at 226-932-0985.