Wagner College Theatre opens its 2011-12 season on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. when the curtain rises at its new, temporary Main Stage venue, Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center, for Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's “Jesus Christ Superstar.” This award-winning rock opera, which tells the story of the last days of Jesus’s life, revolutionized the Broadway musical and caused controversy when it first came out as an album in 1969 prior to its adaptation to the stage.
For faculty director and Tony Award winner Michele Pawk, the show has been a great opportunity to collaborate with some truly talented people.
“Rusty Curcio, our choreographer, is fantastic,” Pawk said. “To work with him developing this piece was just joyous. We are just blessed to have Nick Williams, our music director, and Phil Hickox and Vicki Neal doing the set and lights — it doesn’t get much better than that.”
Of the cast, Pawk says she is “beyond thrilled.” The large cast of 37 includes seniors Quinten Busey as Herod, Ryan Cole as Pilate, Michael D’Amico as Annas, Samantha DeSimone, John Garrish Jr. as Guard, Taylor Hilliard, Tara Kirk, Brian Krinsky as Caiaphas, Matt Sydney, Kyle Peter Van Sandt as Judas and Natalie Wagner as Mary. The cast also includes Robby Haltiwanger and Alex Boniello as Jesus and Anthony Colasuonno and Kyle Peter VanZandt as Judas. Due to the fact the roles of Jesus and Judas “are particularly demanding,” Pawk decided to cast “four very different men who could do” the roles rather than just two, which in turn gave the four talented young actors the chance to perform in the leading roles.
The move to Snug Harbor, although having its own challenges for the cast and crew has also been an opportunity to experience the production process, as it would be in the “real” world.
Speaking as a Broadway veteran and educator, Pawk said, “Getting them ready to cross the river and see what it’s going be like over there, it’s actually been really great. It will be good for them … [because] what we’re doing now, the way we’re rehearsing and then moving to the theater, is the way it’s done. So in a way, it’s not a bad thing at all.”
She went on to note, “Snug Harbor’s beautiful. It’s a charming, old, architecturally gorgeous space. … It’s going to be good.”
“Jesus Christ Superstar,” the work Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, premiered on Broadway in 1971. The music and storyline are heavily influenced by the social, cultural and political movements of that era. As for the obvious biblical theme, Pawk said she “went back to the gospels and reached out to various professors of religion at Wagner.” Pawk has also incorporated findings from research of the past 40-odd years since the show was first created, “making it a richer, more complex journey.” Needless to say, the story and music are beautifully written. Concludes Pawk, “It’s just gorgeous; I love it, I love it!”
“Jesus Christ Superstar” is produced in association with R&H Theatricals and runs Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. from Oct. 5-15, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturdays and a Sunday show at 2 p.m. on Oct. 16. Tickets can be ordered through our box office at 718-390-3259.
For tickets visit or call the Box Office at 718-390-3259. For security reasons, Wagner College Theatre does not accept any payments or orders via email. Please note: Due to the ongoing renovations to Main Hall, the Box Office has moved to Reynolds House.
“Jesus Christ Superstar” is presented through special arrangement with R&H Theatricals, 1065 Avenues of the Americas, Suite 2400, New York, New York 10018. Visit the the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization on the Web.
Please note: The license agreement between Wagner College and R&H Theatricals is contingent on the following advertising restriction: The use of the title, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” may only appear in advertisements and announcements within a 10 mile radius around Staten Island, N.Y. Internet announcements are permitted only on the Wagner College website and via emails to subscribers. Repurposing any materials found on the Wagner College website is strictly prohibited.