‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Breaks Records

Daniella Amendola, Editor-in-Chief

The University’s production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” is officially record-breaking.

The musical, which was performed in Lemmond Theater from April 11 to April 14, was heavily attended and received tremendous praise.

Jeffrey Kelly, Manager of Special and Cultural Events and Theater Director, said the play broke attendance and other records.

“That’s an understatement,” Kelly said. “We broke every record we have.”

The play marked many firsts, he said.

“Let’s see if I can get all of them,” Kelly said. “Highest attendance of a single show was initially ‘Godspell’ at 452. Closing night of ‘Superstar’ was 457. That is after we set the house number to 400,” he said.

He had to accommodate a waiting list of about 60 people, he said.

“So we pulled some ropes, and some people sat in front of, behind, next to some moving lights, and looked into the wings for half the show, but we— we got almost everybody, and a couple people didn’t want to wait around, so we did unfortunately have to turn some away.”

Along with attendance for a single show, “Jesus Christ Superstar” broke the record for total ticket sales.

“Total number of a show was 1,174, if memory serves me correctly, from ‘Godspell.’ I don’t have the hard number yet, but I know we’re over 1,400. So we obliterated that one,” Kelly laughed.

“Superstar” sold out not only its Saturday night performance April 13, but also its closing show Sunday, April 14.

“We actually opened the show Thursday— so before the box office even opened Thursday night for day-of show tickets— we pre-sold more tickets than the second largest musical the university had ever seen, which was ‘Pippin.’ ‘Pippin’ ended at 778, something like that, very close to 800, and we opened ‘Superstar’ with over 900 tickets. So every record we had is gone. It is happily, happily destroyed.”

Breann Hunsinger, first year graduate physical therapy student and part of the ensemble, chimed in to say, “You’re welcome.”

From a background perspective, Kelly believes the show went better than he could have  expected.

“No matter what craziness I could have thrown at this cast and this crew, they still managed to beat it. There was no small piece of the show, every single part had a lot going on with it, whether that be 25 microphones for my sound guy, you had what, probably a hundred light cues of some crazy, impossible timings that needed to be perfect, and the crew just nailed it every time. The stage managers in the pitch-black darkness, while needing to stay quiet, still managed to get all the props and stuff out, and without a curtain to cover them or anything— it was some crazy, crazy stuff.”

The sound guy Kelly spoke of was Richard Baldovin a staff member, while Carolyn Maguire, senior occupational therapy major, primarily operated lights.  The two stage managers were Olivia Katulka, senior psychology major, and Jess Martin, first year undeclared student.

Kelly said that the show was absolutely beautiful, from a musical standpoint, and  the cast and crew took one of the hardest books he has ever considered, due to the range of notes and voices, and they “killed” it.

“When audience members come up to me and say, ‘How did you get such an ensemble?’ It’s such an awesome feeling.”

Kelly said he would not change a single thing about the show.

When asked about what is coming up next for the Misericordia Players, there was a small uproar, to which Kelly responded, “The infamous question.”

Kelly is still considering options for the fall, including “Momma Mia’ or “Children of Eden.”

“We are playing on the strengths that we have. What we had with this show, we had such strength in our male voices, and dancing and acting, and not losing any females, and we said, okay! This was the perfect fit. We’re not losing that many males, so we still have some strength there, but we have this large influx of amazing, amazing female talent. We need to find a show that can show off everybody.”

Ensemble members, Hunsinger, as well as Patrick Joyce, senior middle level math and social studies education major, were pleased with how the show turned out.

“Considering it was both our first times being in a musical here,” said Hunsinger, “it was a little overwhelming. For me, I haven’t been in a musical since high school, and I’ve been in straight shows here, which tend to not get as big of a turnout, so it was definitely a surprise, but it was definitely invigorating, and like, fun and amazing, and I’m so proud of all of us.”

Joyce agreed, adding that the show was insane.

“It was definitely— I don’t want to say a motivation booster, but it made us feel like all our work finally would be worth it. It wasn’t like it was a crowd of just like, twenty people, like… we sold out two nights in a row. That’s insane we were able to do that,” said Joyce.

“Validating,” Hunsinger added. “All our effort was validated, like oh, we didn’t do this for nothing.”

Annette Ritzko, senior speech language pathology major, attended the show both nights it sold out.

“I just thought it was such an overall awesome experience. Being in the audience, not only seeing so many people on stage that I care about, but also seeing, like, such a large audience. Having been in shows previously, it just… the experience was unlike any other to me, just being in the audience and watching it, and feeling not even just the energy on stage, but the energy the people watching it felt,” said Ritzko.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” was a record-smashing hit for the university, and whatever the Misericordia Players produce next is sure to be great.