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  • Writer's pictureJohn Gonzalez

The iconic 'Jesus Christ Superstar' returns to Michigan for 50th anniversary tour

Updated: Jul 6, 2023

BY JOHN GONZALEZ

EAST LANSING, MI - At age 50, “Jesus Christ Superstar” has never looked better.


The award-winning musical that wowed audiences when it first was released as a concept album, before the musical and film versions, is back on a national tour, and everyone is excited to hear all those iconic songs.


It makes a stop this week on its 50th anniversary tour at the Wharton Center in East Lansing for eight performances. (Details below or HERE.)


There’s a “buzz” about the show, said actor Faith Jones, who plays Mary Magdalene.


“I feel like we don’t have to convince people to like the show,” said Jones in a phone interview on a tour stop in New Jersey.


“But, all in all, we are able to be a part of a 50-year legacy of this show, and we get to look out into the audience and see people singing along.”


With lyrics and music by EGOT winners Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, “Jesus Christ Superstar” was first released as a concept album, which was a hit, and then became a stage show in 1971 and movie in 1973.


It’s a “sung through” musical, clocking in about 95 minutes with no intermission, and it is set against the backdrop of the final weeks in the life of Jesus Christ, as seen through the eyes of Judas.


The legendary score includes “What’s the Buzz,” “Gethsemane,” “Superstar” and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” which became a Top 15 pop hit.


Jones said she considers herself “very lucky” to play the character who sings that classic song.


“People have such a liking to that song,” she said. It stirs up “memories for people from when they were a kid that they hadn’t even thought about until they hear these iconic songs and melodies. I feel really lucky.”


Considered a “rock opera” for its time, she also loves that her character balances out the rock side of the show.


“I get to sing so many great songs that bring peace and calm to the chaotic rock nature of the show… It helps a lot that the music is so iconic that people enjoy it. It makes getting on stage a celebration of the work we have put forward, and we continue to push ourselves and get better every step of the way."


A singer-songwriter from Durham, N.C., this is Jones' first major tour, which is a huge accomplishment considering she recently graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill.


Professionally she hopes to keep pursuing music, but right now she’s using the experience of this tour to grow a little.


She graduated during the pandemic, then moved home with her parents before landing the role in “JCS.”


Rehearsals began in September and the tour in October. She had to grow up in a hurry.


“Being on the road teaches you a lot,” she said, referring to the challenge of getting enough sleep, resting your voice and making smart choices.


“Being on tour is the first time experiencing life on my own,” she said. “I’m just at that age when I’m leaving the nest and coming into my own.”


While traveling and “getting to see America for the first time,” she has learned to preserve her energy, and at the same time take care of her “mind and body.”


“It’s a balance of taking the work seriously and having fun on the road,” she added. “I’m proud of how I have balanced it out.”


She is excited about returning to Michigan, where she hopes it is warmer than in March when the tour stopped in Detroit.


“We had some snow, that was kind of funky,” she said. “We had good audiences in Detroit, people were friendly…. We were mostly worried about staying warm.”


As for the show, Jones said fans can expect 95 minutes of “amazing singing, amazing dancing.”


“Our show is vocally intense, musically intense, physically intense, and I think people are going to be really impressed,” she said.


“We have a dedicated cast of people who all love the show. We all love our production. And we all really believe in it. And so with that, every night I feel like we give incredibly committed performances.”


She also hopes people use the experience to look closer at their own lives. She hopes it’s illuminating.


“Our show, because of how intense it is, and how dedicated each of us are, I think it reveals a lot about humanity in general.”


Learn more about Faith Jones on her website faithjonesmusic.com.


Learn about “Jesus Christ Superstar” tour at ustour.jesuschristsuperstar.com.


Get tickets and parking information about the Wharton Center at whartoncenter.com.


IF YOU GO

“Jesus Christ Superstar”

When: June 13-18, 2023

Where: Wharton Center, Michigan State University

Performances: 7:30 p.m. June 13-15; 8 p.m. June 16-17; 2 p.m. June 17; 1 and 6:30 p.m. June 18

Run Time: Approximately 1 hour and 35 minutes with no intermission.

Tickets: From $39, available HERE


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