Players: All are Welcome for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

Adam Myers, Reporter

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The Misericordia Players will perform a student production of English composer and impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber’s spectacle ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in the Lemmond Theater, and all are welcome.

Jeff Kelly, Theater Director and Manager of Cultural and Special Events, said the wide range of participants makes this production special.

“The people that do our plays and musicals range from first-year undeclared students, graduates students, a faculty member, and almost every major that is offered on campus. We are blessed to be growing a very large talent base that can sing, dance, and act,” Kelly said.

Jesus Christ Superstar tells the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, with roles including Jesus Christ, Judas, Mary Magdalene, King Herod, and Pontius Pilate. Ensemble members will portray

Jesus’s apostles, priests, lepers, and angels.

Kelly has done multiple shows throughout his tenure as theatre director, and believes that this cast of 25 players are the strongest yet. The bonds and chemistry among the Players makes the production better.

“We are a family. It does not matter what you do, what background you come from, or what you believe in. We always have open arms and everybody is here together,” Kelly said.

Jacob Schweiger, third-year physical therapy graduate student who will play Jesus Christ, said listening to the soundtrack and working through the songs with the musical director made him fall in love with the show.

“‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ has helped me a lot. This show has given me a new passion to learn and think about the story of Jesus’s crucifixion in a different way,” Schweiger said.

He said the raw emotion of the show draws power and passion from him  and every other member of the musical. Schweiger believes everyone in the cast has a vocation, or in other words, a power given to them by God to do something great in the world. He said Players use the power of song and dance to portray one of the greatest and most important stories in history.

“No matter what you believe, Jesus did something important. Whether you believe he was a God or just a man, we all work extremely hard to show what just how powerful this show really is,” Schweiger said.

Although the play features many religious figures, it is also known as an “ensemble heavy” show, in which the ensemble cast caries as much importance in the production as lead roles do.

Dawson Kerch,  junior psychology and pre-DPT student, enjoys the fact that the ensemble has such a prominent part in the show.

“Without the ensemble, there would be no substance on to why the people cared about Jesus,” Kerch said.

The audience can relate to many of the ensemble members, making the show more engaging and inclusive of all, Kerch said.

Kerch will play Simon, one of the two leaders of Jesus’ apostles whom  Kerch classifies as “a rambunctious zealot that goes against the system.”

Kerch will also be part of the ensemble throughout the show.

With all of the hype that comes from doing a show like “Jesus Christ Superstar, Kelly wants to assure audience members and theatre lovers alike that the production will have many surprises, which have never been done before.

“When the audience comes to see the show, they should walk in, relax, and let the magic of the student’s actions and imagination take them for a ride,” Kelly said.

He said that while the university is not known for theatre, the Players have high expectations for their work. He wants to make things as “astonishing as possible” for the audience.

Kelly declined to provide details about stage design and props, not wanting to spoil the show, and said the audience will have to see it for themselves.

“If it is one thing that I want the audience to go home thinking after the show, is the smallest of actions can create world-changing stuff for years to come,” Kelly said.

Performances will be held April 11, 12 and 13 at 8:00 pm, with one matinee performance April 14 at 2:00 pm.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, online at www.misericordia.edu/superstar or by calling the  Theatre Box Office at 570-674-6719. General admission $8 and $5  for students, alumni and senior citizens.

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