Arts and Entertainment

Ovation! presents 'Jesus Christ Superstar' for its 10th anniversary finale

Pictured are members of Ovation! Musical Theatre Bainbidge
Pictured are members of Ovation! Musical Theatre Bainbidge's cast of 'Jesus Christ Superstar.' Counter-clockwise from center are Gary Chambers as Jesus of Nazareth, Ryan Patrick O'Donnell as Judas Iscariot, Todd Baylor as Simon Zealotes, Matthew Cordell as Pontius Pilate, Chip Wood as Caiaphas and Michelle Lorenz Odell as Mary Magdalene.
— image credit: Keith Brofsky photo

The groundbreaking rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" will be the final show in the 10th anniversary season for Ovation! Musical Theatre.

Marijane Milton, cofounder of Ovation! and its volunteer managing director, said the musical theatre has long wanted to bring "Jesus Christ Superstar" to the Bainbridge stage.

“Jesus Christ Superstar has been on our short list for 10 years but it's been difficult to obtain a license due to its tremendous popularity," Milton said.

"There have been ongoing national tours, equity shows in the area and the recent Broadway revival. We were thrilled when the window finally opened and are delighted to be presenting one of our favorite shows with a vibrant rock orchestra and an outstanding cast,” she said.

"Jesus Christ Superstar" will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays, from Dec. 6 through Sunday, Dec. 22 at the Bainbridge High School Theatre.

"Jesus Christ Superstar" was released as a concept album in 1970 when Andrew Lloyd Webber, composer, was just 22 and Tim Rice, lyricist, was 28. The success of hit songs such as "I Don't Know How to Love Him" and "Superstar" led to professional stagings in London and on Broadway and sparked national tours that lasted for decades.

In 2013, a new “arena” production toured the United Kingdom to record-breaking audiences and spawned a new cast CD and DVD of the production.

Webber is regarded as one of the most important musical theatre composers of all time. His credits include "Evita" (with Rice), "Phantom of the Opera," "Cats," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" (with Rice) and "Sunset Boulevard."

Rice's body of work — besides his work with Lloyd Webber — includes "Aida," "The Lion King" and "Chess."

Ron Milton, Ovation!'s artistic director, will direct the production with Brandon Peck as musical director.

As conductor, Peck will lead a 16-piece rock orchestra, fronted by guitarist Justin S Davis.

“To do this amazing score justice you need an incredible lead guitarist and we have found just that in Justin S Davis,” Peck said.

Davis has performed and recorded with some of the world’s finest musicians, including Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses, Matt Cameron of Pearl Jam/Soundgarden, Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, Shawn Smith of BRAD, Santana drummer Michael Shrieve, Alan White of YES and Plastic Ono Band, Brendan Hill of Blues Traveler, Howard Leese of Heart, Chad Channing of Nirvana, the Seattle Symphony and many others.

The rest of the rock orchestra includes many prominent regional players including Phil Intihar (electric bass), Art Whitson (drums), Amy Duer-Day (oboe), Patti Beasley and Howard O'Brien (clarinet), Alan Franciscutti (violin), Katie Lee (percussion and keyboards), Mark McConnell (trombone), Dan Gottlieb (tuba), Austin Carver (trumpet) and Clarice Nash and Stephanie Grassia (flute and saxophone).

The cast features some familiar faces to Ovation! audiences and many newcomers to their

stage.

Gary Chambers plays the pivotal role of Jesus of Nazareth, a role he played for Bremerton Community Theatre.

Chambers has appeared in several other Ovation! productions including "The Pirates of Penzance" (2003 – Frederick).

“Gary played an important role in the founding of Ovation! back in 2003 and has recently relocated back to the area," Ron Milton said. "We are delighted to have him on our stage again and in this role that is so important to him and in which he infuses so much passion and conviction.”

The story is told from the point-of-view of Judas Iscariot, played by Ryan Patrick O'Donnell in his Ovation! debut. Local audiences have seen him recently in several BPA productions

("Spelling Bee" and "Chorus Line") and he has also appeared with Northwest Actors' Lab, quiet Productions and Sound Theatre Company ("Wild Party").

Michelle Lorenz Odell, who recently played Fantine in Ovation!'s 2013 production of "Les Miserables," will play the role of Mary Magdalene.

Lorenz Odell's credits include productions with Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre, Village Theatre, BPA and many others.

“I am delighted to be working with Michelle again on this outstanding production,” Milton said.

“She brought a humanity to Fantine in last summer's production of 'Les Misérables' and her touching and sensitive portrayal of Mary Magdalene infuses the iconic character with a very moving presence,” he added.

Chip Wood, a newcomer to the Puget Sound region, will play the role of the high priest Caiaphas.

Wood is an accomplished film, stage and voice-over performer who's musical theatre credits include "Titanic" (William Murdoch), "Rent" (Gordon), "Forever Plaid" (Smudge) and many others.

Tenor Sean Parker, a Bainbridge Island architect, will take on the role of the priest Annas in his Ovation! debut.

Todd Baylor, who is playing the role of the revolutionary Simon Zealotes, has appeared in several Ovation! productions including "Into The Woods" (Cinderella's Father), "Cabaret" (Herr Schultz), "My Fair Lady" (Freddy Einsford-Hill) and "Les Misérables" (Courfeyrac).

Nelsen Spickard will play song-and-dance man King Herod.

Spickard also appeared in Ovation!'s productions of "My Fair Lady" (Doolittle) and "Les Misérables" (Thérnardier).

Matthew Cordell, who appeared in Ovation!'s production of "Les Misérables" (Combferre) will play the Roman governor Pontius Pilate, and Bainbridge High graduate and Cornish student Nicholas Martin will play Peter.

The cast also features Henry Bacon, Madison Barrett, Elizabeth Faye, Kat Gilmore, Les Heinrich, Cordelia Janow, Shani King, Tori Konig, Sheamus Kreider, Lily Lucas, Ron Mackley, Sarah Mather, Trish McKee, Marijane C. Milton, Tom Moeller, Priya Niehaus, Jen O'Neill, Aria Rose, Michael Schmidt, Meghan Smith, Jeanna Strout, Amanda Swanson and Vicky Wezlau.

Behind the scenes, Debbie Pierce steps in as choreographer and April Spain as costumer.

Other key production team members include Evan Anderson as lighting designer and John N. Willson as sound designer.

Ovation!’s production of "Jesus Christ Superstar" is presented through special arrangement with Rodgers and Hammerstein Theatricals and is supported, in part, by One Call for All.

The production will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays, from Dec. 6 through Sunday, Dec. 22 at the Bainbridge High School Theatre.

Tickets range from $19 to $27 and are available at Winslow Drug, online at www.brownpapertickets.com and by phone at 1-800-838-3006.

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