IU Theatre will bring a touch of religion to campus with the visual exhibition that is “Jesus Christ Superstar.” The show will be performed 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Ruth N. Halls Theatre. It will be the last production directed by IU veteran George Pinney.
Pinney has directed at the University for 30 years and has seen the theater department grow and improve, he said.
“I started choreographing production members in gravel parking lots,” Pinney said. “Now we are in a state-of-the-art building. We also now have the MFA program. The musical theater program is 10 years old, and it is attracting top talent from coast to coast.”
“Jesus Christ Superstar” is a retelling of biblical events through the eyes of Judas. Created 40 years ago by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice, the rock-’n’-roll-style musical incorporates production details that aim to impress the audience, music director Brandon Porter said.
“From the set design to the light design to the costume design, it is quite a spectacle,” Porter said. “I think people will be wowed at just how much is going on on the stage at one time.”
The musical incorporates a large cast with a few central roles. The musical showcases characters people can identify with, said senior Meadow Nguy, who plays Mary in the musical.
“There are some pretty intense and emotional circumstances within the show that the spectacle really lends itself to rather than inhibits,” Nguy said. “My role isn’t only about love but forgiveness. My experiences working on this role has been very personal and connected with the production staff.”
The musical is a testament to the years of work Pinney has put into the program, Porter said.
“The work that George Pinney has done is some of the best work I’ve ever seen him do before,” Porter said.
Pinney’s work has affected artists like Nguy for the better, she said. Through work with him, she was able to understand musical performance in a new light, she said.
“He is amazing,” Nugy said. “His positivity and genuine self is what brought me to IU, and because of his gigantic past of performing and directing experiences, he is able to explain things to everyone in a way that truly works magic.”
The musical will star 32 cast members and 9 orchestral pit singers. Pinney said having this many people participate in “Jesus Christ Superstar” offers a great experience for those involved and for the audience.
“Educationally, there’s a lot more opportunity for more people, which is always a good thing, and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ is full of spectacle, so in order to achieve that, it takes a larger cast,” Pinney said.
Porter said he hopes audiences will be struck by the immensity of the performance.
“I just hope the audiences are completely wowed,” Porter said. “ I really hope people enjoy the monstrosity that this show is.”