Castleton State College students will soon be treated to what theater students and faculty are calling a “crowning achievement,” the showing of Jesus Christ Superstar. The play, to be preformed on April 14-15, will be “unbelievably good,” said theater professor Harry McEnerny. The story begins with Jesus arriving Jerusalem and ends with his crucifixion. The play is based on Andrew Lloyd Weber’s 1969 musical that depicts the interpersonal struggles of Judas and Jesus.
McEnerny, who has been working with the production team since November, explains that depicting a story through song and dance can be one of the most powerful forms of communicating with an audience and is the most effective way to tell this biblical tale.
“Music works well when characters communicate through a place where they cannot express it any other way . sometimes even noises and screaming help vocalize this message,” he said.
He also stressed the amount of coordination it takes to put together a play of this magnitude. Close to 40 performers, 16 backstage hands, an orchestra, and 10 people on a production team make up the crew for this play totaling more than 100 members.
Louis Riquelme, assistant to the technical director and student at Castleton, furthered McEnerney’s thoughts.
“There is more work that goes into one of these departmental shows than people really see. We started having our ‘designers meetings’ before last semester even ended . We spend more hours thinking about this production and listening to the music than most people spend sleeping,” he said.
Riquelme also worked endless hours in his office constructing a three dimensional model of the set. His renderings depict a raised platform set littered with archways, stair sets, brick walls and pipes. He used a genre and style that he explains is called “steampunk.”
“Defining steampunk can be a confusing topic to handle. The way I’ve been explaining it is actually quite simple. If you take a look at the Victorian Era, and you take in their style of clothing, along with the ideas they had, chivalry and the like, and then ask yourself: what did they think the future would hold? That is steampunk. Industrial, mechanical, hard working, goggle wearing, grease covered people; but still in their traditional clothing,” Riquelme said.
With this theme in mind, McEnerny stumbled upon an odd stage piece after speaking to art professor Rita Bernatowicz. The object is an oversized nut, an uncommon and perfect addition to the steampunk theme. It belonged to recently deceased Castleton sculptor and professor Gary Fitzgerald, who Harry describes as having been enthusiastic about the theatre art performances at Castleton.
“He would always stop by my office to visit . had a great booming voice, great personality, he was a great guy,” McEnerny said.
He’s not sure exactly where on the set the nut will appear, but he said it will serve as a great addition and a warm reminder of his colleague.