Near West Theatre to Present JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, 11/21-12/7

Near West Theatre to Present JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, 11/21-12/7

Awaiting winter completion of its multi-million-dollar performance space in the Gordon Square Arts District, Near West Theatre will stage a unique production of Jesus Christ Superstar this fall at West Side United Church of Christ, 3800 Bridge Ave., Cleveland. Performances will run for three weekends, Nov. 21 - Dec 7.

Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr. says the rock opera will take unique advantage of the feel of the historic 160-year-old sanctuary where it will be performed. "We want people to experience the convergence of lead guitar, pipe organ, percussion, church pews, stained glass and this stirring score, which is driving, majestic, satirical and tender," says Navis, who will direct Superstar. "The show first ran on Broadway over 40 years ago, but it's still relevant and provocative. It reflects society's superficial obsessions, misplaced idolatry, and, at times, wavering morality." Created by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber at the end of the turbulent 1960s, the musical centers around Jesus of Nazareth as an engaging social and political rebel. His meteoric rise to fame provides, as the title suggests, a parallel to contemporary celebrity worship.

The venue for this production is across West 38th Street from the theater's former longtime home, the St. Patrick's Club Building. This interim location was needed so that, when Superstar closes, the move to the newly constructed theater can begin immediately. "Over our 36-year history, we have often used West Side UCC in addition to St. Pat's," says Executive Director Stephanie Morrison Hrbek. "We're grateful that the congregation and staff have opened their doors to us for this entire audition, rehearsal and production process. It feels like a home away from home during this transition."

This fall's production of Jesus Christ Superstar will feature a large, volunteer cast of children, teens and adults, chosen through a group-oriented audition process Sept. 2, 3 and 4, with no experience or preparation required. Details are at www.nearwesttheatre.org.

Tickets to performances are $20 for a reserved Star Seat with special benefits, $10 for adult general admission, and $8 for children's general admission (12 and under). They can be purchased anytime at www.nearwesttheatre.org or by calling 216-961-9750 weekdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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