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‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ a community tour de force

Special to The PREVIEW

Photo courtesy James Kiker Curtains Up Pagosa presents “Jesus Christ Superstar,” opening tonight at 7 p.m. at Pagosa Springs High School. Future performance dates are June 27 and 28; July 2, 3 and 6 (Sunday 2 p.m. matinée). Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce office and at the door. Adults $15, Seniors (65 and up) $12, Students $10. Reserved seating is available at $20 through the Chamber office only.

Photo courtesy James Kiker
Curtains Up Pagosa presents “Jesus Christ Superstar,” opening tonight at 7 p.m. at Pagosa Springs High School. Future performance dates are June 27 and 28; July 2, 3 and 6 (Sunday 2 p.m. matinée). Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce office and at the door. Adults $15, Seniors (65 and up) $12, Students $10. Reserved seating is available at $20 through the Chamber office only.

Curtains will go up for Curtains Up Pagosa’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” tonight, June 26, at 7 p.m. at Pagosa Springs High School.

Tonight’s performance will feature a talk-back session following the performance, hosted by the directors and cast and led by Fr. Doug Neel, rector of St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.

“This will give the audience a unique opportunity to ask questions of the cast and share their thoughts. Doug is not only a great actor (playing the part of Herod), he is a priest, theologian and author,” says production director Dale Johnson.

Future performances are June 27, 28, July 2 and 3 at 7 p.m.; July 6, 2 p.m. matinée. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors age 65-plus and $10 for students. Tickets can be bought in advance at the downtown Chamber of Commerce office or can be purchased at the door.

Curtains Up Pagosa! (formerly Music Boosters) is a community grassroots organization now celebrating its 25th anniversary as a nonprofit group supporting public school arts programs and offering college scholarships for students majoring in the arts.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” is a true musical and theatrical tour de force representing the amazing talent among us here in Pagosa Springs. Actors, directors, pit orchestra musicians, set builders, costumers, technical crew, concession workers and promotional artists all donate their time to assure our community has first-class artistic performances and ongoing support for the arts programs in our schools.

“Every single person involved in this production shares in CUP’s commitment to promoting the arts in our community,” says Johnson.

Laith Sherer, playing the role of Jesus, is a Pagosa Springs High School graduate and is no stranger to the stage.

“The first time Laith tried out for a one-act play during his high school years, I knew we had an extraordinary new actor on the scene,” says Johnson. “He has gone on to hone his skills both through other high school productions, Curtains Up Pagosa! productions and Thingamajig theater productions. He brings such passion and strength to his performance as Jesus. I know our audiences will be very moved.”

The part of Judas will be played as a female role in this production by Darcy DeGuise, a professionally trained singer and actor who teaches English literature at PSHS. Darcy is no stranger to the CUP stage. She showed her natural comedic side as the Fairy Godmother in CUP’s production of “Cinderella” in 2010. She then wowed audiences in her intense performance of Aldonza in “Man of La Mancha.” Last summer, she played conniving Fastrada, the stepmother of Pippin in the musical by the same name. She brings her strong acting skills and amazingly versatile voice to the role of Judas.

Robert Neel, a senior at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and CUP scholarship recipient, returns to the stage in the role of Pilate. Robert has been wowing audiences in Pagosa Springs since his first appearance as Jack in CUP’s 2008 production of “Into the Woods.” His fans have watched him grow both in his acting skills and as his beautiful voice has developed with age. He portrays Pilate as a tormented man who is very conflicted about his role in Jesus’ crucifixion. Audiences will witness both the beautiful full resonance of his voice and the power of his acting skills.

Chrissy Ferguson, playing the part of Mary Magdalene, grew up in Pagosa Springs and has brought her beautiful voice and acting skills to numerous CUP performances. Her rendition of the popular “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” will, no doubt, touch the audiences with her fears and conflicted feelings.

“I think this is Chrissy’s best role ever,” says Johnson. “She has really grown up and developed her natural talent on our stage. We are so proud of her.”

On a lighter note, Doug Neel will play the part of Herod. He makes only one appearance, but his performance will be unforgettable. Though the character himself is not a nice one, the music is fun in a ragtime style, complete with a delightful dance number.

“This is the role I’ve always wanted to play,” says Doug Neel. “Plus, since I only have one appearance, the amount of time I have had to spend at rehearsals has been considerably less than the rest of the cast, who has to stay on stage almost constantly. It’s been great fun.”

Max Miller, another CUP scholar, returns to the stage, home from school at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. Miller plays the role of Simon, Jesus’ dear friend, who wants Jesus to lead them into Jerusalem to fight against Rome’s persecution.

No CUP performance is complete without wonderful choreography, developed and taught by Hayley Hudson, another CUP scholar. Hayley is a sophomore at University of Northern Colorado.

“CUP trains these wonderful young people on the stage and they continue to give back from their talents. We are so proud of Hayley and all our CUP scholars,” says Johnson.

This story was posted on June 26, 2014.