SUMMERSIDE - Fandango Musical Players Inc. is set to stage its third production, this time bringing Jesus Christ Superstar to Summerside's Harbourfront Theatre for three appearances.
Shirley Anne Cameron is the artistic director of the community theatre effort, a talent she has developed through years of school performances during her teaching career, and beyond the bounds of education.
"It was huge in my childhood," Cameron explains of her desire to stage Jesus Christ Superstar.
"Everyone loved it, were transformed by it: the music and the story itself. I just think it's a really great story to do," she described the play by the impresario of musical theatre Andrew Lloyd Weber.
Beyond just a love of the musical, Cameron has experience working on the show as well, having been music director of a 2004 rendition with another Island performance company. Her current role allows her to put her own spin on the show.
"I think the audience is different than it was 20 or 30 years ago. People are more... I would say worldly... than maybe they used to be," she considered.
"They would be looking for something that has meaning not just in the Christian context but in the overall, worldly context of a really good story about a really good person who was trying to help, and trying to do good, and the angst of Judas questioning that, and everyone going through a lot of psychological development or changes through the story," she advanced.
“It’s basically an awesome story. It happens to be the story of Christ, which for Christian people it’s really important, but it’s also a story for anybody.”
Cameron explained that the production started with the basic respects for Christian beliefs, as they concern the last week of the story of Jesus Christ, but also added some contemporary feeling, making Jesus less of a god figure and more of a human, as well as the people around him being affected by him as a man rather than as God.
There are 45 cast members in this production of Jesus Christ Superstar, and a
backstage crew of about 10. Though a casting call was put out, Cameron knew a lot of the actors from other Fandango productions and was confident they could make the show awesome.
"The leads are all very strong," Cameron vowed, and acknowledged that everyone has put heart and soul into their roles, recognizing that the only reason they are involved is because they really love what they are doing on stage.
The Fandango interpretation of Jesus Christ Superstar is being produced by Margo Thompson.
"Advertising and fundraising are my two big jobs," Thompson identified, and she has been pleased with the reception and support shown for the effort.
The show has turned into a bigger production than what they had planned, but the enthusiasm and talent that has come out has generated much more interest.
Practice for the May 8-10 production has been going on for nearly five months. At this point, the music is on track, the cast are fine-tuning their performances, sets are being finalized and the costumes tweaked.
Thompson also made herself responsible for set design, construction and painting, costuming was coordinated by Sandra McNeill, and Karin Doucette is fine tuning the choreography.
Ticket sales are encouraging, according to Thompson, who hopes the show will at least break even or provide enough surplus to secure the rights to a future show. Fandango has been averaging a show every 18 - 20 months since forming in 2010.
"We've had a great response so far," she said for sales of the $28 tickets.
“There was a need for this sort of adult combination with younger group of talented people,” she identified part of the interest in the Jesus Christ Superstar performance, both for audiences and aspiring actors and singers.
“It’s unreal the talent that is in Summerside,” Thompson praised.
“I think it is very needed. We have a beautiful facility down there, and I think people are interested in supporting community events, in order to have a venue for people to be able to express themselves."
"(The Harbourfront Theatre) is a perfect venue to have around for such talent. It’s a great mix,” she summarized.