Jesus Christ Superstar: Reborn in Burbank

James L. Alban, A&E Editor

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Forty years after its debut revolutionized the world of musical theater, the rock opera extravaganza “Jesus Christ Superstar” has been resurrected by the Theatre Arts department at Santa Rosa Junior College.

Opening April 29 in Burbank Auditorium, the company of more than 100 actors, dancers, musicians, technicians, artists and directors have come together to take audiences on a journey that dramatizes the final seven days of the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Directors John Shillington, Janis Dunson Wilson and Jody Benecke incorporate a modernistic approach, while following traditional aspects of the original production from the 1970s.

“‘Superstar’ is a show that has traditionally been very stylized, not only in the music, but in the costumes, set and props as well,” said Josh Sommers who plays Jesus in the SRJC production. “The show often combines aspects on ancient Jerusalem with aspects of modern times. This production follows that tradition.”

Intense rehearsal schedules, vocal and dance exercises and character studies have helped the cast develop a greater depth and build a better understanding of their respective parts. Sommers, who has been preparing for this role since 1994 when he first saw the show, has researched the life and history of Jesus Christ to better for the role and sought outside vocal training to handle the demanding vocal part that comes with his role.

“There is a great deal of talent, tremendous energy and commitment [from the company], all of which have made for an incredible experience,” Sommers said. “Without the guidance and vision of our directors, stage manager (Lori Heres) and choreographers (Lara Branen and Carrie Stillman), we would not have been able to harness all of these things into such a powerful production.”

Recommended for ages 14 and above, SRJC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” will be shown from April 29 to May 8. Matinee shows are available and tickets can be purchased online, or at the Burbank Auditorium Box Office. Ticket prices vary; associated students with valid ID and ASB sticker get in free.