Hey Sanna! Des McAnuff's Stratford Jesus Christ Superstar Will Play Broadway in 2012

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04 Oct 2011

Josh Young as Judas at the Stratford Festival.
Josh Young as Judas at the Stratford Festival.
Photo by David Hou

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival's production of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by artistic director Des McAnuff, will transfer to Broadway's Neil Simon Theatre starting March 1, 2012, the Canadian festival announced.

Jesus Christ Superstar will open March 22, under the auspices of Dodger Properties and the Really Useful Group. The Ontario production got rave reviews this summer in Stratford.

"I have wanted to do Jesus Christ Superstar for quite a long time," McAnuff said in a statement. "I'm extremely pleased to be able to stage the piece with the company of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. I am even more pleased to be able to go with them back to La Jolla Playhouse, which I still consider an important home. We will all be very excited to go from there on to New York."

The Festival's production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the pop-rock story of the final days of Jesus, opened in Stratford on June 3 and will run through Nov. 6. Following that, as previously repported, it will play La Jolla Playhouse in California, Nov. 18-Dec. 31.

Broadway casting and more production details will be announced. One might guess that due to actor conflicts involving casting in Stratford's 2012 rep season, the Broadway transfer might include new cast members.

The pop-rock musical of the last days of Jesus got enthusiastic reviews in Ontario, and earned the approval of lyricist Rice and composer Lloyd Webber. The full Stratford cast is expected to make the move to California.

Jesus Christ Superstar will play La Jolla Playhouse's Mandell Weiss Theatre in La Jolla, CA, from Nov. 18 to Dec. 31. It's currently playing in rep at Stratford's proscenium Avon Theatre in Stratford, Ontario, to Oct. 29.

The Stratford revival earned the approval of lyricist Rice and composer Lloyd Webber. The full Stratford cast is expected to make the move to California.

This new staging features Paul Nolan as Jesus, Chilina Kennedy as Mary Magdalene, Josh Young as Judas Iscariot, Tony Award winner Brent Carver (Kiss of the Spider Woman) as Pontius Pilate, Bruce Dow as King Herod and Mike Nadajewski as Peter.

The creative team includes choreographer Lisa Shriver, musical director Rick Fox, set designer Robert Brill, costume designer Paul Tazewell, lighting designer Howell Binkley, sound designer Jim Neil, video designer Sean Nieuwenhuis, dramaturg Chad Sylvain, fight director Daniel Levinson, aerial stunt coordinator Simon Fon.

Before joining the Stratford Shakespeare Festival as artistic director, McAnuff was artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse 1983-1994 and 2001-2007, and is now director emeritus. A two-time Tony Award-winning director, McAnuff received an honorary doctorate in June from his alma mater, Ryerson University in Toronto.

Come May 2012, if the Tony Award gods smile, Jesus Christ Superstar could be competing with a new Broadway production of Rice and Lloyd Webber's Evita in the Best Revival of a Musical category. Ricky Martin stars in Evita, a revival production that originated in London.