Chicago Lyric Opera Presents North American Premiere of London’s 2017 Olivier-winner Production of Jesus Christ Superstar
By: Ellis Nassour
What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening. The buzz right now is at Chicago Lyric Opera (20 North Wacker Drive) where the much-lauded house, soon to celebrate its 65th anniversary, is presenting the North American premiere of the Regent’s Park 2016 Olivier Award-winning production of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar, through May 20. The production also won the 2016 Evening Standard Radio 2 Audience Award for Best Musical [voted by listeners].
Directing is three-time Olivier Award winner Timothy Sheader (formerly Royal Shakespeare Company, now artistic director, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre), who helmed the much-acclaimed London production presented outdoors in 2016 with an encore in summer 2017.
The cast, all in modern dress, features a mix of Chicago, Broadway, and West End talent. Starring are Heath Saunders (American Repertory Theatre and Broadway, Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, Lennon) (Jesus); three-time Grammy-nominated soul singer Ryan Shaw (Judas), tUnE-yArDs band vocalist Jo Lampert (Public Theatre’s Into the Fire) (Mary Magdalene); Diane Coffee a.k.a. Shaun Fleming (Herod); and Postmodern Jukebox band jazz crooner Michael Cunio (Broadway, Hairspray; Chicago, Jersey Boys) (Pilate).
Featured are Mykal Kilgore (Broadway, Motown, Hair; First National, Book of Mormon) (Simon Zealotes); Joseph Anthony Byrd (Chicago, Cabaret, Little Mermaid) (Annas); Cavin Cornwall (reprising the role he created for the Regent’s Park productions) (Caiaphas); and Andrew Mueller (Peter and the Starcatcher) (Peter). The production features the Lyric’s orchestra and chorus, rock musicians, and a cast of 48 – twice that of the Regent’s Park production.
Sheader has brought with him his London creative team: music director Tom Deering, Olivier-winning choreographer Drew McOnie, Tony-nominated set and costume designer Tom Scutt, and Olivier-nominated lighting designer Lee Curran.
The Chicago Lyric premiere of Jesus Christ Superstar is sponsored by the Negaunee Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. J. Christopher Reyes in association with The Really Useful Group Limited. Lyric is under the direction of Anthony Freud, with Sir Andrew Davis as music director and famed opera star Renée Fleming (on Broadway as Nellie Fowler in the Carousel revival) as creative consultant.
Tickets for Chicago Lyric Opera’s Jesus Christ Superstar are $47.50 to $130.50. For the ultimate front-row rock concert experience, Lyric is offering $20 seating in their gigantic orchestra pit for the first time in the company’s history. For tickets and more information, visit www.lyricopera.org.