The return of the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar

  • Arundhati Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 02, 2014 16:00 IST

He has staged Evita 150 times, and each time, with an improvisation to the act; he has also created three different productions of Death Of A Salesman over the past four decades.

Alyque Padamsee is known to embrace change, and as the veteran thespian revives his 1974 stage hit, Jesus Christ Superstar (JCS), theatre enthusiasts in the city can be assured that they're in for a spectacular show.

When asked why he's chosen to revisit this musical, Padamsee says, "JCS has relevance to all times. I believe, in Jerusalem at that time, Jesus was mistaken for a political leader in the struggle of the Jewish population against their Roman rulers. Earlier, I drew parallels between Jesus and Gandhiji in their belief that non-violence is the best way to achieve independence of mind and heart. The situation (politics around the world) hasn't changed much. This play will continue to be performed for centuries to come."

It has been eight months since Padamsee announced that auditions were on for the play's revival. Now that the stage is set with a massive cast of 50 performers, looking back at the journey of revamping the production, he says, "The main characters like Jesus, Judas and Mary Magdelene were chosen after we auditioned a hundred singers. To turn them into actors, it took six months of hard work for my associate director, Karla, and me. Today, I can proudly say that they are all singing actors."

All the characters of the play will perform live songs

Noted choreographer Shiamak Davar, who has collaborated with Padamsee on several other productions, is in charge of the choreography. "Alyque and I go back a long way. I've performed in many musicals by him, including Cabaret and Evita. When you choreograph for theatre, the focus must stay on the acting. So, the dance will enhance the show, but won't overshadow the story. I'm delighted to be part of this play," he says.

Alyque's daughter Raëll Padamsee throws light on the challenges she faced as a producer, saying, "So much could go wrong, considering the huge number of people that are involved, and the fact that it is such a technical production. We want it to be better than last time, but we also have to remain true to the heart of the story without overpowering it with special effects."

Jesus Christ Superstar will be staged at St Andrew's Auditorium, Bandra (W), on December 5, at 8 pm, and on December 6 and 7, at 7.30 pm.

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