Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Alliance Theatre to Stage Revolutionary New Gospel Musical

Photo left: Followers beg for a healing touch as Jesus (Darius de Haas, center) feels the extent of his difficult work in the revolutionary new gospel musical Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL Jan. 14 – Feb. 22 on the Alliance Stage.

There's a reason to rejoice at the Alliance Theatre this January as the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber blockbuster rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar hits the Alliance Stage in an exhilarating new gospel production.

The Alliance is thrilled to be mounting its largest production in 20 years, the rousing gospel event: Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL. Audiences will experience the hit musical as never before in an inspirational, hand-clapping event that puts the power of praise back into the gospels.

Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan V. Booth directs this groundbreaking musical about the last seven days of the life of Christ. Opening Night is Wed., Jan. 21, at 8 p.m. on the Alliance Stage. Tickets are available at the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office by calling 404.733.5000 or online at http://www.alliancetheatre.org/.

“I am profoundly lucky to be in the position of being the director of Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL,” said Booth. “One of the greatest works of the theatrical form meets the greatest sound in the world. This is pure, true Atlanta gospel. This is an event that transcends traditional theatre.”

Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL puts Judas at the center of the passion story with a rich and deeply human point of view. The show begins with Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem and continues through the exhilaration and apprehension of the new leader, the effect of the crowds on the Roman occupation forces, and Jesus’ betrayal, trial and crucifixion.

This new version will highlight Atlanta’s rich gospel tradition with an extraordinary 27-member local choir on stage alongside a Broadway-caliber cast. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s score gets an inspirational new beat that will move audiences to new heights with memorable songs like “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Everything’s Alright” and “Could We Start Again Please?”

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Lyricist Tim Rice gave special permission to develop this new interpretation of the work to Louis St. Louis, an experienced Broadway and film composer and music director (credits include Smokey Joe’s CafĂ©, Grease, Grease 2 and Mahogany), whose own musical roots spring from the Detroit Pentecostal Church.

The 50-member cast and choir includes 36 local performers. Actors in notable roles include Darius de Haas as Jesus; Nicole Long as Mary Magdalene; Darryl Jovan Williams as Judas; Eric Jordan Young as Herod; Destan Owens as Pilate; Keith Adams as Simon; and Philip Dorian McAdoo as Peter.

Members of the artistic team that will bring this new gospel musical to life on stage are Michael Yeargan, set designer; Paul Tazewell, costume designer; Robert Wierzel, lighting designer; Jon Weston, sound designer; Darryl Jovan Williams, gospel vocal arranger; Dave Pierce, orchestrator; and Jade Lambert Smith, dramaturg.

Performances are Tuesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Jan. 14 – Feb. 22, 2009 on the Alliance Stage. There will not be a matinee performance on Saturday, Jan. 17.

Opening/Media Night is Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. The Sunday, Feb. 8 show at 2:30 p.m. will be Audio Described for the visually impaired.

Tickets are $25 - $75 and are available at the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office by calling 404.733.5000 or online at www.alliancetheatre.org. Discount rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling 404.733.4690. Discount rates are also available for members of the military, seniors and students. The Alliance Theatre is located at the Woodruff Arts Center, corner of Peachtree and 15th Street, in Midtown Atlanta.

Do More: Gospel Grams
“Say what you gotta say with gospel!” Everything sounds better in gospel, so share grams with friends & colleagues to send Happy Birthday wishes, let them know traffic’s great, or that there are leftover bagels in the break room! Send a Gospel Gram, courtesy of the Alliance Theatre and the new musical Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL. Visit http://www.gospelgram.net/, choose your gram and click send, it’s that easy. You can also view behind the scenes studio footage of Gospel Gram recording sessions from that site.

Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL is part of the Coca-Cola Series on the Alliance Stage.

Additional Sponsors: Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL is sponsored by Delta Air Lines – Official Airline of the Alliance Theatre; Marriott Residence Inn – Official Hotel of the Alliance Theatre; and The Home Depot – Set Construction Sponsor of the Alliance Theatre.

Production of Jesus Christ Superstar GOSPEL is made possible with grants from the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, the Fulton County Arts Council, the Georgia Council for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Photo right (above): Jesus (Darius de Haas, seated center) with his disciples at The Last Supper [Left to right: Glenn Rainey, Darius de Haas, Eugene H. Russell IV, Jaime Cepero, Bernardine Mitchell]

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