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‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ receiving rave reviews

Special to The PREVIEW

SUN photo/Randi Pierce Laith Scherer and Darcy DeGuise star as Jesus and Judas, respectively, in “Jesus Christ Superstar” — a production of Curtain’s Up, Pagosa! — now showing at Pagosa Springs High School. Two showings of the play remain, today (July 3) at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 6, at 2 p.m.

SUN photo/Randi Pierce
Laith Scherer and Darcy DeGuise star as Jesus and Judas, respectively, in “Jesus Christ Superstar” — a production of Curtain’s Up, Pagosa! — now showing at Pagosa Springs High School. Two showings of the play remain, today (July 3) at 7 p.m. and Sunday, July 6, at 2 p.m.

The reviews are in and people from Pagosa Springs and beyond are raving about the Curtains Up Pagosa! production of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” If you have not seen this performance, you still have an opportunity to do so tonight, July 3, at 7 p.m., and during a matinee performance on Sunday, July 6, at 2 p.m. at Pagosa Springs High School. This is truly a not-to-be-missed production that theatergoers will be talking about for a long time to come.

Tickets may be purchased at the Visitor Center or at the door for $15 for adults, $12 for seniors 65 and older and $10 for students and children. The show is rated PG due to violent content.

The rock opera, featuring strong performances by Laith Sherer playing the part of Jesus, Darcy DeGuise as Judas, Robert Neel as Pilate, Chrissy Ferguson as Mary, Max Miller as Simon, Doug Neel as Herod and Christopher Young as Peter, brings the story of Jesus’ last week on earth to powerful and dramatic life.

The high priests, played by Andy Donlon as Caiaphas and Keith Paulson as Annas, along with Kurt Laverty, Harvey Schwartz, and Ben Reece, bring an ominous atmosphere to the stage as they plot Jesus’ capture and death. The cast of singers and dancers share the stage almost constantly and give an electrifying performance as disciples, temple gamblers, lepers and an angry mob.

“We have had guests from all over the country attend these performances and without exception, their response has been one of incredulity. They cannot believe that a town the size of Pagosa Springs could produce such a professional-quality performance of work of this magnitude utilizing an all-volunteer cast and pit orchestra,” says Dale Johnson, production director. “I hear over and over again from people who have seen this production on Broadway, in Chicago, in California and in other large theater venues and they concur that our production is equally powerful and professional-looking.”

There is certainly something magical about Pagosa Springs. It is a small mountain town that happens to have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to artistically talented citizens.

“This fact comes as no surprise to those of us who have lived here a long time and have had the opportunity to work with these talented people,” says Johnson, “but our productions never fail to illicit shock and amazement from visitors and newcomers to our area. The arts in our community are strong and growing stronger all the time. Our pit orchestra has never sounded better and our volunteer actors, ranging from age 7 to 78, consistently give confident on-stage performances.”

Curtains Up Pagosa! (formerly Music Boosters) discovered this fact 25 years ago when a group of local thespians decided to put on a musical review featuring local talent. After several years of developing and improving upon this fun community activity, the group produced its first full-blown Broadway musical, “Brigadoon,” utilizing a volunteer cast and pit orchestra.

David Mitchell, who was at that time the owner and publisher of The Pagosa SUN, recognized that this group had given the community “the gift of a lifetime,” bringing to the surface the golden richness of talent our town had to offer. The SUN has continued to be an important part of CUP’s growth and development, as well as that of other arts organizations in our town.

Over the years, Curtains Up Pagosa! has continued to cultivate and train the artistic talents of Pagosa’s youth and adults alike. As a result, the organization has become an important financial beneficiary and training ground to our school arts programs, offering artistic mentoring to individual students, college scholarships to selected students wishing to pursue the arts as a career, providing additional funding to school music and theater programs, and bringing opportunities for children and adults alike to hone their skills and talents on the stage.

CUP is a training ground for students behind the scenes, as well, offering opportunities for high school kids to learn technical skills in sound and lighting, set design, choreography, costuming and stage management.

Twenty-five years of active mentoring and support of the arts in Pagosa Springs has paid off in spades. The proof can be witnessed on stage this week with the final performances of “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Come and see what makes Pagosa Springs a small town with big art.

For more information about how you can become involved with Curtains Up Pagosa!, go to www.CurtainsUpPagosa.org.

This story was posted on July 3, 2014.