This weekend, the Absegami Drama Club, The Emanon Players, will be presenting Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s classic rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar at the Absegami High School Performing Arts Center in Galloway.
Based on the final week in the life of Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ Superstar explores the greatest story ever told through the eyes of Jesus' closest friend and eventual betrayer Judas Iscariot and features memorable songs such as "Heaven on the Minds," "Superstar" and "I Don't Know How to Love Him."
Starring in the title role is senior Coby Alavez, who will be majoring in music education next year at Westminster Choir College. “I’ve wanted to play this part since I first discovered the original cast album in middle school,” said Alavez. “I am honored beyond belief to be playing this part in my senior year of high school. I have truthfully never worked with a cast that is more motivated and passionate than this one. These attributes shine through on the stage and make this show more than just a musical.”
Playing the emotionally demanding role of Jesus’ betrayer, Judas Iscariot, is junior Grace Vu, who acknowledges the task of bringing this production to the stage. “ There is definitely a bit of nervous excitement since this role is such a massive undertaking, but at the same time, I can’t wait until opening night,” said Vu. “Through everyone’s hard work, especially those behind the scenes, we are able to put together a really special, one-of-a kind show. Not only is it an iconic musical, but also an intriguing tale uniquely told through artful displays of musical masterpieces and sublime choreography. Through a beautifully simplistic set and thought-provoking costumes illuminated by concert-style lights, this truly memorable experience one should not miss.”
“ I feel so blessed to play Mary and to be a part of this show,” says Absegami junior Sydney Mullin, who plays the role of Mary Magdalene and sings the most recognizable song in the show, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” “I've learned so much about Mary Magdalene's significance in both religion and history throughout the duration of this show and I am so excited to portray such a powerful woman.”
When asked how she felt about being in this demanding production, Mullin said, “I have had the ability to grow as a performer thanks to the teachers who have done such an incredible job in guiding my castmates and I through the process of putting on such a demanding show, in addition to the brilliant actresses who have played Mary in other productions who have inspired me so much. I also love how well-written and lyrically-dense this show is; each line, or even the show as a whole, can mean something slightly different to each audience member and I feel that that's something that only few shows can accomplish.”
Absegami junior Mara Justine Platt plays the apostle Simon in the play and is very enthusiastic for audiences to come and see this production. “People should come and see the show because it has such a beautiful message behind it and my peers and I, our directors, and stage crew are working very hard to bring that story to life.”
Absegami senior Courtney Jones, who will be attending Boston University in the fall, plays Annas, one of the temple priests who resists Jesus’ teachings and persecutes him. “I think the part I have truly exemplifies the "mob mentality" trait that people have,” said Jones. “My character shows the power hungry actions that lead to death--no matter how great the person who's dying is.” As a senior and veteran of many Absegami drama productions, she knows that every performance is special. “My favorite part of being in the Emanon Players are the moments before the performances. It is the those times that we take a moment and realize how much work we've put in and how all this work brought us together. In that moment we realize just how much we've accomplished, how close we've become, and how much we appreciate what we've done in order to put on an incredible performance that we're about to put on.”
Sophomore Connor Morrissey, who is playing the apostle Peter, really loves this show.
“Everything about this show is awesome. The music is spellbinding. The actors are amazing. The costumes are fantastic. The set and everything is fabulous. This entire show is going to be truly spectacular and it will definitely be something you will not want to miss.”
In the role of Herod, the ruler of Judea at the time of Jesus Christ’s life is senior Johnny Keen. Johnny plans on attending the University of Central Florida next year to major in Health Administrations. “ I love having the chance to play an antagonist in a show, especially as King Herod,” says Keen. “The sassy, cryptic tyrant may have only one scene, yet his scene sends Jesus to his death. I feel as if it’s an extremely powerful scene that has a fun, charasmic song along with it.”
Rounding out the cast of the play are Stephen Barnard, Andrea Brandt, Dominic Burlazzi, Mariela Cholula, Sophie Cohen, Donovan Cruz, Emily Deibert, Michelle Delemarre, Claire Dell-Priscoli, Samantha Garofolo, Zoe Greblunas, April Kachnic, Brendan Kopervos, Amber Lute, Daryl McAllister, Aaliyah McKethan, John Morrison, Andrew Ngo. Isabella Nieves, Lia Opperman, Dakota Palumbo, Billy Platt, Makael Rogers, Sunrose Rousnee, Anthony Schreiber, Breana Smail, Chloe Verderber and Lauren Walden.
Directing the production is Absegami High School drama teacher Chip Garrison.
“From the start, we challenged these students to rise to the occasion of being a part of this very challenging production. And they have risen to that challenge. The students in this production have worked so hard to bring this production to the stage. We are glad that we can celebrate Palm Sunday weekend performing such an emotionally touching play about the greatest story ever told.”
The production staff for the play includes musical director and Galloway Township Middle School teacher Brian Conover, choreographer and Absegami school psychologist Katie Taylor, lighting designer Peter Avagliano, sound designer Ed Johnson and costume/make-up designer and William Davies Middle School teacher Ashley Winkler.
Tickets for the production can be purchased online at ahs.booktix.com or at the door on the night of the production.
CAPTION: Some of the cast members in Absegami
High School’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Front Row from Left: Coby Alavez, Sydney Mullin,
Courtney Jones. Back Row: Grace Vu, Johnny
Keen, Mara Justine Platt, Connor Morrissey