Playing the Son of God in Jesus Christ Superstar can
be a cross to bear, but it is a challenge director Marty
Newell is familiar with, having played the lead role in
Queenstown 15 years ago.
He said the musical was ''an emotional roller coaster'' for
the cast, especially Finley Brentwood as Jesus and Paul
Halsted as Judas.
''You rip everything out of you and put it on stage,'' Newell
''It's an absolute hell-ride for those guys and I can
empathise with what Finley is going through and what he needs
to be given from the rest of the cast, so that's an
''I believe the character should be coming from within and
from emotions they know as a person to draw on stage. They've
got to use what's within their own lives.''
The roles call for emotional dexterity as well, as anger,
confusion, isolation and love are all conveyed within Jesus'
''If it's played to one emotion in the whole song, it's not
working,'' Newell said.
Last year, Newell happened to watch clips online of the UK
Arena Tour of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice musical,
which toured to sell-out audiences and starred award-winning
Tim Minchin as Judas, Spice Girl Melanie C as Mary and the
winner of ITV2's Superstar, Ben Forster as Jesus.
He checked if the technical challenges of the modernised show
could be met in Queenstown and if Wakatipu musicians, cast
and crew were keen.
He asked fellow participants of the 1999 production if it was
too soon for a reprise, but everyone embraced the
Newell made a proposal to the Showbiz Queenstown committee,
which included a plan, a budget and the names of those eager
to be involved.
Committee members unanimously approved and the Queenstown
Events Centre was booked to stage Jesus Christ
Superstar from May 14-24.
This version is special as Newell is directing his wife for
the first time, among the 32 cast members.
Emma Newell plays an apostle and one of the three ''soul
However, the director said he asks everyone to leave their
personal lives at the door and focus on rehearsals and the
Newells are no exception.
''We talk about the show at home, but I don't analyse her
performance and she's not getting any special directing
treatment at home that the others aren't getting,'' Newell
''It's a fresh creative team, but we're working hard and the
cast and crew can't wait to start rehearsing in the memorial