A locally-driven Pro-Am Arena spectacular of Jesus Christ Superstar will be performed in Townsville in July 2019.
One of Townsville’s most successful music and musical theatre exports, Luke Kennedy, will return home for the titular role; in the five-date season produced primarily to raise funds and awareness for Suicide Prevention Australia.
The show is the brain-child and passion-project of performing arts teacher Sharon Ransom, who has been assembling a crack team of highly experienced performers, directors and technicians to deliver a show of the highest quality.
“We’ve already got some big names in Townsville confirmed, some of them have only given verbal confirmation, so I’ll wait to have signed contracts before I tell you who they are.
“But I can tell you that we have Luke Kennedy confirmed for Jesus Christ Superstar and Kelly Stone returning to reprise the role of Judas.”
Kelly has previously played Judas in the Townsville Choral Society’s 2009 production, while Luke has headlined the show as Jesus six times including in Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra and – his very first time – in Townsville for NQOMT’s 2001 production.
“When I asked Luke to get on board, the first thing he said was ‘Who’s your Judas?’ because you have to have a really strong performer in that role,”Sharon said. “When I told him it was Kelly, he jumped at the chance.”
Sharon has also secured the widely-desired skills of Darcy Mullamphy as Director, Jamie Schmidt for lighting, Daks Plozza for sets and Paddy Higgins as Band Director; while a limited number of locals will have the chance to audition for the ensemble.
“I love working with – and Paul (Ransom) has always loved working with – Terri Brabon and Brendan O’Connor from Theatre iNQ. They don’t throw casting out to everyone – it’s a very Pro-Am approach, that I’d like to take on as well. I want to know that there’s [experienced performers] cast who have a reason to be involved,” said Sharon. “Darcy, however, wants to open it up to the community. So we’ve chosen to compromise and do it kind of like Opera Queensland does – we’ll pre-cast the lead roles and open Expressions of Interest for others. We’ll be holding a vocal and dance session on 16 March for anyone who meets the criteria and wants to be part of the show.”
For Sharon, this production of Jesus Christ Superstar could be the first piece of a much bigger puzzle.
“I don’t know whether it will become a Pro-Am Theatre Company as such, but I think it will become a Pro-Am cause,” she said. “The feeling in my gut is that there’s more and more we can do to give back to the community.”
Sharon’s first husband passed away from suicide 23 years ago today, making suicide prevention and building resilience through the Arts deeply important to her.
“We’re self-funding this show, and the production is all from the heart, which is why getting this team and this show right are so extremely important.
“That everyone involved in this show is already so experienced with it is amazing. We had a production meeting yesterday and having everyone sit around my table at home was just phenomenal. There’s a great energy.
“Jesus Christ Superstar is one of those shows that doesn’t come around very often, but it’s never done as a stadium show. When Tim Minchin did it, he interviewed (writers) Sir Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Weber and they said that’s the way they’d always intended it to be. It’s really exciting to be able to present this show in the way it was written to be done.”
Jesus Christ Superstar will be performed at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre on 16-20 July 2019, with tickets on sale tomorrow.
Performers wishing to be involved can submit their expression of interest via email to North Queensland Performing Arts.