April 23rd, 2024

U of L drama dept. staging Jesus Christ Superstar

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on March 12, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Director Doug MacArthur speaks to reporters about the Drama Department's latest production Jesus Christ Superstar during a media availability Monday at the University of Lethbridge Theatre.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The University of Lethbridge Department of Drama latest production, a Rock Opera titled Jesus Christ Superstar opens today at the university theatre with daily performances at 7:30 p.m. until Saturday.

During a media availability Monday morning, director Doug MacArthur told reporters the production would not have been possible without the collaboration of close to a hundred people.

“There’s 25 in the cast, I think 12 musicians, there’s a vocal director, a musical director, probably 12 or 15 people behind the scenes helping run the show between board operators and running crew and stage managers, not to mention the people that are involved in building the show, the costumes, the set, it’s somewhere between 50 and 100 people that are involved in this and the majority of those are students,” said MacArthur.

Without giving too much away, MacArthur described the production as an iconic musical that is just over 50 years old.

“It tells the story of the last week of Jesus’ life loosely based on the Bible, as interpreted by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim rice, and we’ve set it in a bit of a contemporary time, in a place that’s maybe not a specific place,” said MacArthur.

He said it has a bit of a contemporary feel to it, the music is very well known so it’s very exciting. He added that those in attendance may or may not be asked to take part of a sing along, as suggested by his wife.

 “I’ve been talking to people and they say, ‘oh I used to listen to that all the time, I knew the words off my heart,’ and I think it will be reminiscent for people, but it’ll be new at the same time and new for a whole group of audience members as well,” said MacArthur.

Stage designer Dave Smith while speaking to the Herald echoed MacArthur’s words about collaboration from multiple people, which included the stage building and design.

“Once the design was approved then we started building it in the fall semester. About the beginning of November, we started working on this show and I had 12 students in my scenic construction class and they all basically did a lot of the work,” said Smith.

The stage which depicts a stone building and floor, captured a lot of details and Smith said it was important to make sure those looking down at the stage from the top rows, had a well rounded perception of the world they were trying to create and therefore details were included on the floor.

“It also really interacts well with lights and our lighting designers, also the projection designer, she’s actually got a projector up focus straight down as well so not only is she projecting on the on the scenery itself she’s projecting on the floor,” said Smith. “So, the lighter the floor, the easier it is to see some of those projections.”

 He explained that another detail he really wanted to make sure he paid attention to was the look of the stones on the building.

 “With the stone walls I tried to achieve this feeling of imperfection, because when you see stone buildings, they’re not the exact same stone all the time, especially older buildings,” said Smith.

He said to achieve that look, he spent about 85 hours of painting, with the help of a few students who were able to help with 20 to 30 hours, depending on when they were available.

“This is my biggest design at the university without question, probably the biggest I’ve ever done in my professional career, both from hours wise, but also just from how dynamic it is,” said Smith.

 He explained he has designed big stages before, but none with so many moving parts.

 “In this one all the platforms and the big archway stay, but all the flats at one point or another fly out to give that sense of location change and movement,” said Smith.

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