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Jesus Christ Superstar in Wellington, New Zealand  
What's the Buzz? Check out our exclusive blog as Wellington College prepare to put on their own production.

Week One

Kia Ora! I’m Daniel Gendall from Wellington College (a state boys school in New Zealand) and I am here to tell all you keen Really Useful readers about our production of the legendary Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.

It is an honour to be even a small backstage part of this great show and we’re eager to fill you in on all the drama in the run up to our opening night in June.

As I write, it’s about five weeks to go and things are really starting to heat up in preparation for that first performance. With around 100 crew and cast members we are not short of hands but everyone (especially our director Mr. Andrew Savage) knows we still have our work cut out before the first notes of the overture are sounded.

It’s been a long and winding road to get this far because planning for the show started last November to secure the rights. Casting was conducted in March 2010, with students aged 13 – 17 from Wellington College and our sister school Wellington Girls College participating in the auditions.

In the end 50 male cast members were selected as well as 11 female students for roles such as Mary Magdalene. Rehearsals are held every Friday and Sunday afternoons as well as during the school lunch hour.

Our lead, as Jesus, is James Shaw and our Judas is Felix Sampson. These are two very accomplished young actors within the College.  After watching them in rehearsals, I believe they will carry off their roles with an uncanny likeliness to Ted Neely and Carl Anderson from the 1973 film version.

Director Mr Savage says there were many reasons for Wellington College selecting Jesus Christ Superstar for performing. Firstly, our school alternates between a musical production, and New Zealand’s national drama and dance competition “Stage Challenge” which Wellington College won in 2009.  We wanted to follow that success with something big, something with action, and something with ‘superstar’ status. In previous years we have performed other professional shows such as Blood Brothers but for 2010 only one would do: Jesus Christ Superstar and all its rock classics.
On the subject of music, during the show our very own Wellington College school rock band will perform all the numbers from Hosanna to Superstar. You’ll learn more about them and about our actors in blogs to come.

This is going to be a very contemporary production, combining modern multimedia elements with a simple set and costumes. We are working with a tight budget but that’s only making us more creative.

I hope that’s an introduction to JCS, New Zealand style. In the weeks to come some of our other crew members will have more news from backstage.

Wish us luck for the rest of our rehearsals. In the words of one of my favourite JCS songs, “Everything’s Alright!” at Wellington College.

Daniel Gendall, Publicity

Posted on: 18th May 2010

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