Jesus Christ Superstar

Many changes have been wrought upon the touring edition of "Jesus Christ Superstar" since it visited the Universal Amphitheatre in May 1993. Several featured players and virtually all of the chorus are new, and there are some new costumes and a new musical director.

With:
Jesus of Nazareth - Ted Neeley Judas Iscariot - Carl Anderson Mary Magdalene - Syreeta Wright Caiaphas - David Bedella Annas - Danny Zolli First Priest - Jim Grigar Second Priest/Old Man - Chris Castillo Third Priest/Soldier by the Fire - Forrest Gardner Simon - Lawrence Clayton Pontius Pilate - James O'Neil Tormentors - Shannon Falank, Heather McFadden, Kristen Young Peter - Jeffrey Watkins King Herod - Laurent Giroux Maid by the Fire/Soul Sister - Karen Byers Soul Sisters - J. Kathleen Lamb, Hillary Turk

Many changes have been wrought upon the touring edition of “Jesus Christ Superstar” since it visited the Universal Amphitheatre in May 1993. Several featured players and virtually all of the chorus are new, and there are some new costumes and a new musical director. The overall production — on the road since December 1992 and scheduled to run through February — seems to have been cheapened to where the bus-and-truck company might now be traveling in Winnebagos and Aerostars. Yet in many significant ways this show is an improvement on the earlier version.

Main advantage is the relatively intimate size of the Pasadena Civic, which concentrates the action.

Ted Neeley and Carl Anderson, who both starred in the 1972 version and the ‘ 73 film, are still here, mounting what enthusiasm they can after 18 months on the road. In as Mary Magdalene for Leesa Richards (from the 1992 edition) is former Motown star Syreeta Wright, commendably not oversinging two of the show’s strongest numbers: “Everything’s Alright” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”

Other notable newcomers include James O’Neil, up from understudy to replace rocker Dennis DeYoung (from the band Styx) as Pontius Pilate, and Lawrence Clayton as a very strong Simon, in for Steven X. Ward.

Returning principals include Laurent Giroux as the campy Herod (puzzlingly otherwise occupied during curtain calls at Tuesday’s opening), and David Bedella and Danny Zolli as Caiaphas and Annas.

Bedella’s menacing baritone and Zolli’s cackling tenor may remind “Star Trek” fans of a Klingon and Ferengi, respectively; in any event, they’re a pair almost worth their own show.

Jesus Christ Superstar

Pasadena Civic Auditorium; 2,900 seats; $45 top

Production: Landmark Entertainment Group, Magic Promotions and Tap Prods. present a musical in two acts.

Creative: Music, Andrew Lloyd Webber; lyrics, Tim Rice. Director, choreographer, Tony Christopher; exec producer, Forbes Candlish & Associates; scenery, Bill Stabile; lights, Rick Belzer; costumes, David Paulin; sound, Jonathan Deans; musical director, conductor, Craig Barna; special effects, Gregg Stephens; general management, Niko Associates. Opened, reviewed July 5, 1994; closes July 10.

Cast: Jesus of Nazareth - Ted Neeley Judas Iscariot - Carl Anderson Mary Magdalene - Syreeta Wright Caiaphas - David Bedella Annas - Danny Zolli First Priest - Jim Grigar Second Priest/Old Man - Chris Castillo Third Priest/Soldier by the Fire - Forrest Gardner Simon - Lawrence Clayton Pontius Pilate - James O'Neil Tormentors - Shannon Falank, Heather McFadden, Kristen Young Peter - Jeffrey Watkins King Herod - Laurent Giroux Maid by the Fire/Soul Sister - Karen Byers Soul Sisters - J. Kathleen Lamb, Hillary TurkWith: Don Anderson, Kevin Bernard, Julie L. Dixon, Phil Dominguez, Jim Gricar , Eileen Kaden, Mark C. Reis, Pressley Sutherland, Jill B. Gounder, Hans Kriefall, Cindi Parise, Larry Vickers.

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