What’s the Buzz?

Beacon Players to present Jesus Christ Superstar

By Alison Rooney

Somewhat unbelievably, Jesus Christ Superstar is middle-aged. Yet, the rock opera, born from a concept album, has a timeless storyline paired with an opportunity for those telling the tale to belt and emote and otherwise let it rip.

With teenagers seeking to shape laws and effect change, the material seems very much of the moment for its presentation April 13 to 15 by students at Beacon High School.

Zack Kotzias as Jesus with the apostles at the Last Supper (Photo by Sierra Caban)

First produced in 1968, the musical is based on the final week of Jesus’ life, as seen through the eyes of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. It features well-known songs such as Superstar and I Don’t Know How to Love Him. Written by Andrew Lloyd Weber with lyrics by Tim Rice, it is loosely based on the Gospels and explores the relationships and struggles between Jesus and his followers.

Anthony Scarrone, who directs the Beacon Players (and, in something of a miracle, is directing a production of Les Misérables at Spackenkill High School the same weekend), says about 75 students are involved in the production, including in the pit, where the 11-piece band is a mix of student and professional musicians.

The grand entrance of Jesus (Photo by Sierra Caban)

The cast has been investigating its characters. “Every one of the students playing the apostles has traced where they wound up,” he says. “It was important to be sensitive to the plight of the people and their fear that their religion would be toppled. The kids have been getting into it, even arguing — in a good way — about the political and religious issues that have come up.”

Outside of the roles of Jesus (Zack Kotzias) and Mary Magdalene (Elizabeth Cenicola), the show was cast without regard to gender, resulting in a female Judas (Leah Siegel) and a mix for the other roles, including the apostles. Scarrone says he does “age-blind” casting, choosing a senior only when it comes down to all things being equal at the auditions.

Elizabeth Cenicola as Mary Magdalene with Kotzias (Photo by Sierra Caban)

He says the players continue to raise the bar with their productions. “We have flame bolts that look like fire, a rising cross that was welded by a parent, a 37-foot-high set,” he says. “We’re in the home stretch now; everyone’s just chomping at the bit.” Of the Easter Sunday live performance of Jesus Christ Superstar on NBC, Scarrone quips, “That’s just a warmup for us!”

Jesus Christ Superstar will be presented at the high school’s Seeger Theater at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 15. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for students and seniors at the door, from beaconplayers.com or at the school box office, which is open Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Cast List

Jesus – Zack Kotzias
Judas – Leah Siegel
Mary Magdalene – Elizabeth Cenicola
Pontius Pilate – Alexander Ullian
Herod/Centurian – Jake Robillard
Annas – Joshua Esposito
Caiaphas – Kaljay Brown
Simon Zealots – Sebastian Uribe
Peter the Apostle – Jaylen Hills

High Priests
Joshua Flemming
Ellery Harvey

Apostles
John – Devin Bethards
Andrew – Brooke Bennett
James – Melina Cicigline
Phillip – Jordan Zinserling
Bartholomew – Lindsay Fister
Thomas – Aine Gunn
James – IriJah Leiner
Matthew – Isabela Leon
Jude – Amanda Montaldo

Ensemble
Eliza Principe
Arriana Annicchiarico
Ali Caruso (also Mary, Mother of Jesus)
Liam Byrne (also Centurion)
Anna Cenicola
Ila Harvey
Elyse Istavan
Jessica McTeer
Samantha Tutasi

Temple Dancers
Melina Cicigline
Elyse Istavan
Lindsay Fister
Anna Cenicola

What Do You Think?

The Current welcomes comments on its coverage and local issues. Submissions are selected by the editor to provide a variety of opinions and voices, and all are subject to editing for accuracy, clarity and length. We ask that writers remain civil and avoid personal attacks. Submissions must include your first and last name (no pseudonyms), as well as a valid email address. Please allow up to 24 hours for an approved submission to be posted. All online comments may also appear in print.

Your email address will not be published.