BWW Interviews: JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR's Chilina Kennedy

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Jesus Christ Superstar has been the surprise hit of Stratford's 59th Season, boasting a completely sold out run and visits from Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice. Tickets are virtually impossible to come by, and when a few are released, they are snatched up within minutes. Directed by Stratford's Artistic Director Des McAnuff, this new, lavish production of Jesus Christ Superstar started receiving Broadway Buzz almost as soon as it opened. While a Broadway transfer has not yet been confirmed, the entire production is going to La Jolla, San Diego to play a six week limited engagement.

The production comprises a cast and crew of some of the most talented actors, singers and dancers Canada has to offer - all of whom would no doubt make a stellar addition to the Great White Way. BroadwayWorld is thrilled to be devoting an entire week to this production of Jesus Christ Superstar, where we will feature interviews with many of the lead cast members and find out what it's like to be part of such a massive hit. Today we speak with one of the Festival's favourite leading ladies - Chilina Kennedy:

Congratulations on Superstar - you are nearing the end of the run now, what's been the best part of the process so far?

The best part of the process for me is always rehearsal. I find it extremely exciting to develop a character and discover the show with my colleagues. In rehearsal you get to explore who your character is and experiment with choices your character might make in a given situation. You get to play with your scene partners and it can be really fun.

Stratford theatre is done in rep, meaning you have to juggle more than one role.  Have you ever had a moment of confusing which part you were playing on any given night?

I find rep challenging and rewarding because it keeps the work fresh. I often get asked the question about whether I ever get confused as to which part I'm playing. I think of it like comparing cooking a roast beef dinner and a chocolate cake - you would never mix up the ingredients. Even my dressing room feels like a different place depending on which show I'm doing.

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding this particular production of JCS, what is it that makes it stand out to you?

I think Des' focus on the love triangle (the relationships between Jesus, Mary and Judas) and his exciting staging makes this production stand out. Also, the contemporary feel of the choreography from Lisa Shriver and Bradley "Shoes" Rapier is really cool and it helps to connect a younger generation to the show.

What's different about Des' version of JCS compared to versions people may have seen over the last 30 years?

Again, the focus on the relationship between Jesus, Judas and Mary is strong. It's a fresh take on the show and on the story of the Passion.

Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice both came to check out the show - did they have any tips or advice for you? Were you glad that you didn't know they were there until after the show?

Yes! I never like knowing when someone is in the audience, let alone the writer or composer of the show so it was a good surprise. Both Sir Andrew and Tim were very nice and their feedback was positive. You really couldn't ask for a better compliment.

There has been much talk of a possible Broadway transfer when you finish your run in La Jolla - is that something you would like to do? And if so, is the hope to keep the entire cast intact if the show gets to go to NYC?

Talk about the "B" word is still only rumor :) Obviously I would be thrilled to go to New York, especially with this show and with the cast that we have. But that still remains to be decided. I would be happy with whatever success our production has.

When we spoke with Paul Nolan early on in the run, we discussed the potential for "rabid" fans when a show develops this kind of hype. At the time he said you didn't have many crazed fan stories or a lot of "groupies" like some shows - has that changed with the increased popularity and buzz surrounding the show?

Not so far. I do find that people's opinions and feelings on the show and the story are very passionate. Many people we meet are moved to tears when they talk to us and frankly, that's why we do theater - so we can move people and make them think.

And finally, what is the one reason you would give to encourage a younger audience to come and check out the show?

Because the music is awesome, the story is captivating and when else do you get to see Jesus and hip hop on the same stage?

When and Where?

Stratford Festival

Currently on stage until November 6th and SOLD OUT

Please visit the Stratford Festival's official website for ticketing details, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter (@stratfest) for updates on ticket availability.

La Jolla Playhouse

November 18th - December 31st 2011

Performance Times:

Tues-Wed: 7:30 pm
Thurs-Fri: 8:00 pm
Sat: 2:00 pm & 8:00 pm
Sun: 2:00 pm & 7:00 pm

Special 2PM weekday matinee performances on Nov 23, Dec 20, 22, 28 and 30th

Tickets can be purchased by phone at (858) 550-1010 or online at http://www.lajollaplayhouse.org/the-season/plays/jesus-christ-superstar

 

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Kelly Cameron Kelly Cameron's love affair with the theatre began when she was just five years old, on an outing to see the Original Canadian Cast of Les Miserables at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. She instantly fell in love, and is honoured to be representing the Toronto contingent of BroadwayWorld as Senior Editor overseeing the GTA region.

Her writing career started almost by accident, though it has always been in her blood as her Mom was an English teacher who firmly believed in the importance of being able to turn a phrase. She also loved sharing her love of theatre with her students (and her children), and was a staunch supporter of the arts in Toronto.

When not at the theatre, you can usually find Kelly with a Starbucks in one hand and her BlackBerry in the other, tweeting, reading or doing something quirky and clumsy for the sake of getting that next big story.

She's incredibly grateful to the amazing Toronto theatre community who have embraced her with open arms, giving her the greatest gift a little redheaded theatre geek could ever ask for - getting to be a part of this vibrant arts and culture scene. She may have never had the skills to be on the stage, but is thankful every day she gets to write about the inspiring people who do.

Headshot photo by Racheal McCaig www.rachealmccaigphotography.com


 
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