Classic rock opera at TLP

Caleb Mathura as Jesus and Roy Brown as Judas in Timber Lake Playhouse's production of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” which runs through Sunday, Aug. 1. Tickets can be purchased from the box office at 815-244-2035 or online at www.timberlakeplayhouse.org.

By SAMANTHA PIDDE

Timber Lake Playhouse's third production for its 2021 mainstage season is a true Superstar. “Jesus Christ Superstar” opened last week and will run three weeks, ending Sunday, Aug. 1.

Director and choreographer Paul Stancato and his team of designers bring a fresh, modern, urban interpretation of this classic rock opera, which tells the story of the last week of Jesus' life from the viewpoint of Judas Iscariot, Pontius Pilate and other less traditional narrators of the story.

Roy Brown gives a nuanced performance as Judas Iscariot, showing not only the anger, but also the vulnerability of this traditionally villainized individual. Brown's renditions of "Heaven on Their Minds" and "Damned for All Time/Blood Money" are emotional and simply awe-inspiring.

Caleb Mathura personifies the titular Jesus Christ superbly. He shows a version of Jesus that is loving, but tired, scared and ultimately, resigned to his fate during the last few days leading up to the crucifixion. Mathura singing "Gethsemane" is mesmerizing and brings a tear to a person's eyes.

The woman who loves and follows Jesus, Mary Magdalene, is brought wonderfully to life by Nissi Shalome. Her version of "I Don't Know How to Love Him" is simply beautiful.

Savanna native Darren Mangler is great as Pontius Pilate, the Roman official who ultimately orders Jesus' death. Mangler does a suburb job showing a man trapped by other forces. His performance is haughty, but sympathetic. Mangler's rendition of "Pilate's Dream" does great justice to a great song.

Joey LaPlant and Eli Nash are dark and menacing as high priests Caiaphas and Annas. They both show off impressive ranges and harmonize well in songs like "This Jesus Must Die" and "Damned for All Time/Blood Money."

Jack Hale and Luis Garcia-Godoy give solid performances as Peter and Simon Zealotes. Autumn Key is resplendent and wonderfully over-the-top as the mocking and flashy King Herod. "King Herod's Song" was a great deal of fun.

With music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, Jesus Christ Superstar's soundtrack is wonderful. Whether a long-time fan of the show or a first-timer, the music will grab the audience.

As always, this wonderful music is possible due to the orchestra, directed conducted by Michael McBride.

Tickets are available online at timberlakeplayhouse.org or by calling the box office at 815-244-2035.