A Superstar Is Born
City Lights brings a big 'Jesus Christ Superstar' to a small stage
By Marianne Messina
DIRECTING the City Lights Theater Company production of Jesus Christ Superstar, artistic director Lisa Mallette's collaborative style goes well with jazz-minded musical director Gus Kambeitz. He and Mallette have updated parts of Andrew Lloyd Webber's funky rock opera with the occasional hip-hop beat, a smattering of rap and a dynamic range that goes from big production to "unplugged." Both directors wanted the feel of a rock concert while highlighting a very human drama (as opposed to pyrotechnics). Since Kambeitz plays bass through most of the show, he is not there to cue performers in and out of his layered vocal arrangements and Webber's complex time signatures. On the one hand, that has unsettled a few performers who like every cue scripted. On the other, as Kambeitz points out, characters won't have to keep looking up for musical direction. "We've freed them up to just act. ... There's a little more flexibility."
Kambeitz enjoys the idea that every performance will be somewhat different. He offers performers the safety net of a cohesive, synergistic band unit, having just released a jazz album with two of the five-member orchestra. What—Superstar with no string section, no horn section?...more...