“You can’t find a bigger classic than the Bible”

The cast of Jesus Christ Superstar rehearses a scene from Andrew Lloyd Weber's rock musical recently at Peace United Church in Rochester. The show runs May 4 through May 20.

"Every time I look at you I don’t understand why you let the things you did get so out of hand. You’d’ve managed better if you’d had a plan. Now why’d you choose such a backwards time in such a strange land? If you’d come today you would’ve reached a whole nation. Israel in 4 B.C. had no mass communication."

These are the opening lines of the title track in "Jesus Christ Superstar." But if the story had been set in modern times, would anything have changed?

Once & Future Classics wants to find out.

Aaron Rocklyn, the theater’s artistic director, said he chose Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera because it fits the mission statement of Once & Future Classics perfectly.

"You can’t find a bigger classic than the Bible," he said.


With that said, the new company didn’t exactly opt to end their first year easily. To do the 1970s classic justice, they added extra staging and searched hard for actors and actresses who could handle the music.

"The voices were the most important thing we cast for," Rocklyn said. "The show is almost all music - and challenging music, too."

Setting events from the Gospel in the ’70s was already anachronistic, but Once & Future Classics fast-forwarded another several decades for their modernized interpretation.

"It’s a show that is very often set in different time periods to try to make it relevant," Rocklyn said. "We’re bringing it to 2018. … We’ll see exactly what they would have dressed like and looked like today."

For example, the Pharisees are more of a high-powered law firm than a social group, and Jesus and his followers will have updated looks. Fear not, though - Rocklyn is adamant that the setting will not overshadow the script and music, which remain unchanged.

The show hasn’t been performed in Rochester in about 20 years, Rocklyn said, since the Civic Theatre staged it in the late ’90s.  

"It would be easy to do this show and just hope that people enjoy the music," he said, "but the themes are also still so relevant. People haven’t changed so much in the last 2,000 years."


What: Jesus Christ Superstar

When: 7:30 p.m. May 4-5, 11-12, 18-19, 2 p.m. May 20

Where: Peace United Church of Christ, 1503 2nd Ave. NE, Rochester

Cost:$20, or 507-282-6117

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