BWW Interview: James Delisco Beeks of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR at Hennepin Theatre Trust
Hennepin Theatre Trust's Orpheum in Minneapolis just welcomed a national touring production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR this past week, celebrating the 50th anniversary of this show that changed the genre of American musical theatre in the 1970s. It starred a talented cast of singer/dancers, including James Delisco Beeks, who took a few minutes to answer 6 Questions & (new this year!) 6 Quick Hits:
Can you begin by explaining what this production of the 50th anniversary tour of JCS is like? What can audiences expect?
It's like a rock concert infused with a dance concert. Very high energy and not what you're use to seeing or hearing; this is not your grandma's Superstar. I'd suggest to come in with an open mind, maybe pull out the brown (concept) album to refresh your memory or to even study beforehand because that is our foundation, the music.
What's your favorite part about playing Judas in this show?
I may be a bit biased but Judas has some of the best songs in the show. I love singing 'Heaven On their Minds'. It is vocally one of the most challenging roles in musical theater, and I love the challenge. The character of Judas is a complex one to begin with and I enjoy telling his part of the story because, I believe, Judas has a nuanced story to tell. For someone to be so hated throughout history I want the audience to at least look at Judas in a different light as someone who did was he was supposed to do otherwise the plan of salvation would not have been achieved.
Judas is such a big part -- how do you keep your voice and self healthy and energized to do this show eight times a week (in the winter -- in Minnesota!)?
Proper sleep, water, vitamins, and exercise are very important to maintaining good health with this demanding role. It also helps to bundle up as I am prepared for the winter with my fashionable layers.
Good for you - that's the key! You got your start singing in Las Vegas shows and doing a tribute to Michael Jackson -- how did you end up doing Broadway shows?
I actually did Broadway before I went to Las Vegas, I was in such shows as Smokey Joe's Café, Ragtime, and Aida. The reality TV show I did called "The Entertainer' was after my first Broadway experience. The music Of Michael Jackson is now retired as I am busy with Judas, but I had a great time carrying on the legacy of Michael Jackson.
What was your earliest performing memory?
When I was 9 years old in the 4th grade I sang 'Ben' by the young Michael Jackson in a talent show where there wasn't a dry eye in the theater. As a kid who was very shy I felt that my voice was heard when I sang that song and I felt that I could do this and here I am.
You've been in some terrific shows like Ragtime, Aida and Kinky Boots -- what other shows are on your personal bucket list?
I would definitely love to play 'Burr' in Hamilton. I actually went back to musical theater because of being inspired by 'Hamilton'. I did Kinky Boots in Australia and on Broadway, then Judas came along and I am living a dream, as it is one of my favorite roles in one of my favorite shows. I have a new single out now called "Lock You in' and have a new single release called "High" coming out next month and would ideally love to do my own show(s) with my original music as I am a singer first.
6 Quick Hits:
Favorite Musical: HAMILTON
Favorite Song: "Circles" (Post Malone)
Guilty Pleasure: Ice cream
Twitter or Instagram? Instagram: @jamesdbeeks
Vacation Spot: Ibiza
Favorite Word: Gnosis
Photo: James Delisco Beeks, courtesy of Hennepin Theatre Trust