Since its debut over fifty years ago, the show written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice has both stirred debate and filled theaters.
Revolutionary and empowering, a new musical adaptation of Jesus Christ Superstar has arrived featuring an actor outside the gender binary as the lead role – with Judas Iscariot now being portrayed by a female.
Last night, the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group launched a revolutionary production of their rock opera – believed to be the world’s first gender-neutral version.
Roza Stevenson portrays Jesus in this adaptation, and the 12 apostles are depicted by female and non-binary actors – those who don’t exclusively identify as either male or female.
Lew Forman, Creative Director of the production, revealed that they had decided to incorporate ‘gender-blind casting’ as a way to refresh the story of Jesus’s last days and make it more relevant for modern audiences.
He stated: “Jesus is remembered as being a man, but who are we to decide?”
“It’s the same story and songs but the audience will view it from a different perspective.”
Lloyd Webber Licensing was willing to grant permission for the production, however, they refused any alterations of lyrics and pronouns.
Sofia Pricolo, portraying Mary Magdalene, will be singing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” instead of “I Don’t Know How to Love Them.”
According to Mr. Forman, the “equal opportunity” production has “definitely been a bit controversial” as several posters were vandalized. However, he is unaware of any objection from a religious perspective.
He stated: “Jesus Christ Superstar was never particularly beloved by the Christian community. It doesn’t end with the resurrection. It ends with Jesus on the cross.”
Stevenson stated: “The group has taken a well-known story and made it something new and special. Being a non-binary actor is a strange line to walk. Being able to audition for a show where my gender presentation didn’t make a difference broke down barriers.”
She said: “By casting the whole show gender blind, it really helps us focus on the core aspects of the characters and with the help of the fabulous production team, bring them to life.”
Izzy Ponsford, the director, remarked: “The aim was to fulfill the spectacle demanded by this epic show while retaining the delicate emotional core of the show and making the production feel as relevant to our audience as it did to audiences 50 years ago.”
“Through precise use of set, costume, and lighting, I believe we have achieved a careful modernization of this piece, fore-fronting the emotions of the story while still enjoying the show to its absolute fullest.”
The Church Hill Theatre in Edinburgh will be showcasing this remarkable production until Saturday.