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Painted Fish Theatre Company in rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar

Painted Fish Theatre Company in rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar

by Laureen F. Guenther


Jesus Christ Superstar, the 1970 rock opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, will be performed by Painted Fish Theatre Company.

“The rock opera takes a very human look at Jesus through the eyes of Judas,” says Marian Jordan, Painted Fish’s artistic director, who’s also directing the show. The iconic musical tells the story of the last days of the life of Jesus.

“As a Christian, I find myself very drawn to how the story is told,” Jordan says, explaining why she chose to have Painted Fish produce this oft-told musical. “I find myself really understanding and relating to the people who experienced Jesus on earth. Would I have reacted in the same way had I been there? It’s that personal connection that makes me want to tell the story over and over again.”

“The music is also very powerful,” she says. Every actor is a singer, and in this production, they’re directed by Nancy Thomson, a Calgary choral conductor and vocal instructor. The band, a traditional rock combo of lead guitar, bass guitar, piano and drums, is led by Chinley Hinacay.

The Jesus role is sung by Kyle Sailer, who previously sang the role of Joseph in Painted Fish’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. “(Sailer) has already captured the idea (in his performance) that Jesus could understand us as human beings because He became human, while still portraying His divine relationship with the Father,” says Jordan.

David Kampel, the producer, is singing the role of Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus.

Kayla Bil is playing Mary Magdalene in most performances. Rachel Brodsky is playing Mary Magdalene in the other two performances, through a Painted Fish program that offers talented but inexperienced singers an opportunity to perform a major role in limited performances. Jordan designed the set, and the costumes follow a bohemian theme.
“I want (audiences) to feel the story deeply in their hearts,” Jordan says, “because they have understood what an enormous sacrifice was made (by Jesus) for them.”

She hopes her cast and crew, amateurs from diverse backgrounds, will experience the story in the same way.

The mandate of Painted Fish Theatre Company, according to its website, is to “produce plays and musicals that express good family values and offer positive messages of encouragement and hope.”

A secondary mandate, the website says, is to offer musical and theatrical performing opportunities to people of all ages who have performing talent but little or no experience.
Painted Fish also encourages families to participate, says the website, and that their productions have included performers from 5 to 75 years of age. In fact, the organization intentionally chooses shows that offer performance opportunities for children as well as adults.

“Most who come to us have little experience in the theatre but would like to give it a try,” Jordan says. “Many are very talented but haven’t explored that talent on the public stage.”

Ten matinee and evening performances of Jesus Christ Superstar will be held from May 30 to June 9, at Cite des Rocheuses Theatre, on Richard Road SW, Calgary. The show is recommended for children ages 7 and up. Adult, senior and child-youth tickets are available at or by calling 403-827-3050. You may also be able to purchase tickets at the door. “The intimacy of the theatre allows for a very personal experience of the show,” says Jordan. “I invite everyone to come and feel the songs ‘I Don’t Know How to Love Him’, ‘What’s the Buzz’, ‘Hosanna’, and ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ for themselves.”