BWW Interview: Jenna Rubaii of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Bass Concert Hall
JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR has been one of the most beloved shows since it was first written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. With the release of the American album in 1970, it has become known as the "Brown Album" based on the original cover. It became an instant hit in households all over the United States. The story of Jesus Christ is told through the eyes of Judas Iscariot, who would come to betray the very man he believed in most. The newest North American Tour is set to begin in Austin, Texas from October 8-13, 2019. It's been almost 10 years since an extensive tour and audiences are anticipating what will be a breath-taking re-telling of the musical phenomenon. As the cast prepares for opening night in Austin at the Bass Concert Hall, BWW caught up with Jenna Rubaii who plays Mary.
What got you interested in performing in the first place?
My parents always said I was singing before I could talk! When I was six years old, I auditioned for an all-girls song and dance group in Tampa, FL. I ended up performing professionally around the state and the country with that group for 12 years of my life! Having the opportunity to perform 50+ shows a year at such a young age really sparked my love for live performance.
You've had a lot of successful shows that you were a part of; originating the part of Joelle in "Groundhog Day" on Broadway, "American Idiot" the international tour, and "Saturday Night Fever," what are some of the things that prepared you to take on such amazing roles?
Commitment & curiosity to live performance and life experiences. I think it's important to always stay inspired. When I step out of my own bubble and explore places, meet people and see things that will expand my artist mind, I get even more excited to dive into the roles & stories I am telling.
Now, you are part of the tour of Jesus Christ Superstar playing the character of Mary. How did you get the part?
My audition process for Jesus Christ Superstar was actually one of the longest I've ever been through. I originally came in for the creative team in November 2018... after multiple work sessions and callbacks over the next 9 months, I got the call from my agent saying I booked it. That experience proved you never know what will happen.
Were you familiar with the famous "Brown Album" of the original recording of Jesus Christ Superstar? If you were, what did you think when you were auditioning for the part of Mary? If not, did you take the time to listen to the album and learn some things from it? Does it affect the way you portray Mary?
I have fond memories of my dad playing "The Brown Album" when I was a kid. He is the biggest Jesus Christ Superstar fan! It feels a bit surreal having the opportunity to sing, "I Don't Know How to Love Him" every night. I think it is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. Our brilliant music supervisor, Tom Deering, really encouraged me explore the purity of Mary's tunes. Honoring the simplicity of the original record has allowed me to access more colors, both musically and emotionally throughout the show.
What are some of the things you are looking forward to most with this tour?
I am so excited to hear what audiences think of this production. I know Jesus Christ Superstar is a beloved show and I so look forward to sharing this unbelievable version with them. I also LOVE exploring new places. I'm a sucker for oddities and curiosities. I'm interested in finding unique sights in each city- it's my favorite part about touring.
PHOTO CREDIT: Evan Zimmerman, MurphyMade