Cast shines in NKU’s ‘Superstar’

Mikki Reynolds-Schaffner

With a full house every night, the rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar” has been a success at Northern Kentucky University.

The show presents the last week of Jesus’ life leading up to his crucifixion.

Director Ken Jones’ musical production uses talent, catchy songs and inventive choreography to wow the audience.

The show stars Aaron Lavingne as Jesus and Roger Justice as Judas.

Judas is a tough role. It’s not easy to play a bad guy, especially when you’re the antagonist to Jesus Christ.

The emotion and feeling Justice poured into this role, however, made the audience empathize with a character who betrays his leader and his friend.

The role allowed Justice’s talent to shine before the audience.

The production begins with Judas singing in anger toward Jesus.

The connection between Judas and Jesus felt real, as if their bond was truly deep.

The pain and anguish that Judas experiences when he betrays Jesus is felt in every fiber of the audience’s being.

Lavingne shined especially bright during “The Last Supper” scene.

The way he connected with the 12 apostles led the audience to appreciate the close relationships Jesus built during his time on earth.

The dancing apostles are introduced in quick succession. Dressed in urban attire, the selected twelve set the mood for the production.

In their performance of “What’s the Buzz?” the cast displays obvious talent.

The diversity and skill of this cast was tremendous.

Dressed in layers, the apostles were able to change from their characters into people on the streets mocking Jesus in the song “The Arrest.”

The group once again lifted their voices in anger, transforming from their characters – a transition that fit in perfectly with the play.

The costumes set the mood for this urban production.

Jesus is dressed plainly in white and Judas in bold black leather.

The symbolic contrast of the colors accentuates the different personalities of the characters.

Jones added a new twist to an old tale.

He did not try to hide the set changes. Instead stage hands, dressed in normal clothing, openly brought out the props.

It seemed Jones dwelled on the fact that, well, this is only a production.

He wasn’t trying to be over-the-top with elaborate sets, but attempting to deliver the message of the story.

The simplicity of the set enhanced, rather than detracted from, the performance.

The characters used only necessary and versatile props.

For example, the table used for the Last Supper was also used as cage walls for Jesus’ arrest.

The musicians, as well as the actors, used the stage. They could be seen playing in the background behind a transparent screen.

Seeing the musicians with the actors at work allowed for a dramatic feeling to the performance.

The lighting was executed in perfect harmony with the mood of the play, aiding the perception of the entire spectacle.

The show first debuted in 1971 with lyrics by Tim Rice and music by Andrew Lloyd Webber. It made a comeback in 2000, and now in 2004.

This performance was the first “Jesus Christ Superstar” I’d seen, and I came away impressed.

A winning cast bubbling with chemistry, a rock band playing the right notes, and lights creating the perfect mood, all created the greatest collaboration I’ve seen at NKU.

Students, faculty and staff can see the show at Corbett Theatre until Feb. 29.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and at 3 p.m. Sunday.

General admission is $10. Faculty and staff pay only $9, and students pay $6.

For tickets, contact the NKU Theatre ‘ Dance Box Office at 859-572-5464, or visit its Web site at

The show is sponsored by NKU Department of Theatre and Dance.