‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ comes alive in Tahoe

Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage
“Jesus Christ Supersar” will be performed four more time this weekend at Lake Tahoe Community College. Jesus of Nazareth is played by Mark D. Williams.

Director David Hamilton has taken on the challenge to produce the 1970’s rock opera cult classic Jesus Christ Superstar, his second time directing the musical at Lake Tahoe Community College (LTCC), the first being back in 1998. The music by Andrew Lloyd Webber with lyrics by Tim Rice, is not clean and precise – it is raw, passionate and messy.

It is true 70’s rock. Conceived as a concept album in 1970, it went to Broadway in 1971 and has been performed in nearly 20 countries and translated into 18 different languages since then, with Broadway revivals in 2000 and 2012 each earning a Tony nomination for Best Revival of a Musical. The more recent live televised production in the spring of 2018 also earned acclaim with popular artists John Legend and Sarah Bareilles, as well as Broadway singer/actor Brandon Victor Dixon playing the lead roles.

For Hamilton, the story is specific but also universal, exploring the conflicts within power and truth and this production takes the last days of Jesus and moves them out of place and time, while focusing on inner conflicts, relationships and the human struggle.

Sponsored by LTCC and the Tahoe Arts Alliance, the production is a new idea since the small Community College opted to discontinue its full time Theater Program due to low enrollment. This is the first experiment at a truly Community Theater effort – a collaborative of volunteer local talent – actors, singers, dancers & technical crew – all being produced at the College’s Duke Theatre. According to Hamilton, “The idea is to determine if non-profit organizations, can collaborate with the college, using the Duke Theatre, to continue to bring productions – especially the more complicated and labor intensive musicals – to the community of South Lake Tahoe in a sustainable manner”.

For the Tahoe Arts Alliance, whose primary mission is to “promote and advocate for arts & culture” on the South Shore, this is an opportunity to help foster a stronger theatre community. TAA is not a producing organization but rather a facilitator and resource to support opportunities in all the arts. Along with this project TAA has provided support and energy to many other projects on the South Shore including helping to define and promote a vision for the arts in our community.

Hamilton, who ran the LTCC Theatre Department for twenty years and is now retired, is producing and Directing, Donna Axton, who has worked on prior LTCC productions, is the Music Director for the live rock band and also plays piano. Dr. Mark D. Williams, LTCC Music Department Chair, provides vocal direction and Meg Peart, who has been involved in many prior LTCC productions and is also the Director/Coordinator of the Vagina Monologues, is the Choreographer as well as the designer of the poster.

Williams is participating in this production as a sabbatical project. A large part of the project is to help craft an agreement that can be used by community groups and the college to facilitate the use of the theatre and the sharing of revenues. As Vocal Director, he is working with a cast that runs from seasoned performers to people who are making their theatrical debut. As if that wasn’t enough, he was also tapped to play Jesus, a lead with a challenging vocal range and demanding character acting. Mark jokingly reminded himself, “don’t conduct the ensemble while on stage,” as the show got closer to opening.

The artistic effort for this show doesn’t stop with the vocals, acting and dancing – you can also see it in the creative costume design by Darla Bayer, who has also worked on prior LTCC productions, and the energetic, colorful art panels on stage, designed and painted by local artist Ellen Nunes. Hamilton, with help from some of the cast, created and built the set, while Former LTCC Theatre technician Mike Kelly is responsible for lighting and Kurt Munger, who still works full time at the College, (though now only part time as the Theatre’s Technical Director), provides sound.

  • The cast includes:|
    Jesus of Nazareth – Mark D. Williams
    Judas Iscariot – Sharon Kerrigan
    Mary Magdalene – Saundra Whitt
    King Herod – Andrea Rogers
    Caiaphas – Dave Anderson
    Peter – Tom Callahan
    Pontius Pilate – Chris Taylor
    Simon Zealotes – Joanie SanAgustin
    Annas – Shelly McCarty
  • Rounding out the cast in the ensemble are Yona Abiko, K.C. Carroll, Stephanie Castillo, Amber Heron, Julie Hupwitt, Amanda Sanderson, Valerie Smith, Pam Taylor, Darya Vogt and Kendall Wilson.
  • Remaining performances:
    7:30 PM – Thursday Oct. 25
    7:30 PM – Friday Oct. 26
    7:30 PM – Saturday Oct. 27
    2 PM – Sunday, Oct. 28th – Matinee
  • Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 students/children in advance, and $23 general admission and $18 students/children at the door on the day of. Box office opens 30 minutes prior to show time. Advanced tickets may be purchased at: https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3607989 .
  • All performances will be held at:
    Lake Tahoe Community College – Duke Theatre
    One College Drive
    South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150


ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.


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