Superstar show preparing to impress

The dressed up lepers get into character at Sunday’s costume day. Below, ensemble members (back from left) Ella Neutze and Leah Maw and (front left) Molly Milmine and Casey Higson and Brent Gray tries on his Pontius Pilate costume.

Incredible vocals, top sound and  lighting and a professional-standard production are all set be showcased when Variety Theatre Ashburton stages Jesus Christ Superstar later this month.

It is 50 years since the show debuted on Broadway and 19 years since it was last performed in Ashburton.

Back in 2002 a fresh-faced Roger Farr was the co-director alongside Gavin Templeton and Jo Castelow was the musical director.

Both Farr and Castelow are back in the two key roles and Julia Bell is the choreographer.

Showtime is just a little over three weeks away.

Roger Farr said the Jesus Christ Superstar show would be top notch and a very high standard.

In terms of technology and special affects it would be a big step up from the show in 2002.

The costumes, set and music would all be quite different and an 11-piece orchestra was replacing the recorded music used nearly two decades ago.

Mr Farr said the vocal quality in the show would “wow” audiences.

Although a joint fundraiser for Variety Theatre Ashburton and Ashburton Trust Event Centre, the production would not compromise on quality and had a budget of $120,000, Mr Farr said.

“People will be blown away by what they see and hear and we need them to come along to support the show.”

Jesus Christ Superstar is a show of two halves.

The first half is warmer and friendly and features Jesus and the apostles, while the second half has Roman soldiers and the crucifixion.

The costumes reflect the lighter and darker sides and includes clothing from the 1970s and more modern elements.

Taking on the lead roles are experienced local performers like Matt Williams (Jesus), Chris Woods (Judas), Murran Buller (Mary) and Brent Gray (Pontius Pilate).

The rock opera is all about songs and includes the classics Superstar, Gethsemene and Everything’s Alright.

The cast of 65 includes an on-stage choir of 19, an ensemble of 18 and the 12 apostles.

Seven shows of Jesus Christ Superstar will be performed between August 30 and September 5. Tickets from the event centre or its website (

-By Mick Jensen