BRUNSWICK – The Maine State Music Theatre will kick off the summer season Wednesday, June 4, with a production of the Andrew Lloyd Webber controversial rock opera, “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Set to fill the two pivotal roles of Jesus of Nazareth and Judas Iscariot are Gregg Goodbrod and Chan Harris. Both men have starred in MSMT productions in the past.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” opened on Broadway in 1971 to much controversy. Christian groups were upset to see Judas portrayed as a sympathetic character and found his criticism of some of Jesus’ actions throughout the show as sacrilegious. Jewish groups protested the portrayal of Jews as villains.

“In preparing for the role of Jesus of Nazareth in the past, I have gone and spoken with ministers and other religious leaders,” said Goodbrod in a prepared statement. “I have heard concerns that the show diminishes the Christian viewpoint that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the people, but this show is about how Jesus lived. It’s about Jesus as a man, and it was during his life that he shared his teachings and theories.”

Goodbrod made his MSMT debut in the role of Chris in the 2005 production of “Miss Saigon.” He returned in 2006 to perform in “South Pacific,” “Aida” and “Full Monty” and again in 2007 as The Baron in “Grand Hotel.”

Harris’ last visit to MSMT was in 1997, when he starred in The Who’s rock opera, “Tommy.” This will be his first time portraying the role of Judas.

Harris has in the past performed the role of Jesus as well as directed a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” outside of Maine. He described Judas’ role in the show as that of a radical or revolutionary during a tumultuous time in history.

“I think our tolerance for new religious ideas has changed in recent years. This musical was written at the dawn of an era of free-thinking that was itself a radical notion, but that movement has now moved into a more acceptable realm within our culture,” Harris said.

“This show is an artistic expression that asks its audiences how much of Jesus Christ was a man and how much was a God, and can we ever really know? It was not written as an attempt to recreate history,” he continued. “In the end, it’s the message of Jesus’ teachings that is most important, regardless of your opinion of the way the story is told.”

“Jesus Christ Superstar” will run until June 21 at Pickard Theater on Bowdoin College’s campus. For more information about tickets and showtimes, call the MSMT box office at (725-8769 or visit www.msmt.org.


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