Colby Katz-Lapides, a senior majoring in dramatic literature, has found Jesus without religion.
Katz-Lapides, who is directing “Jesus Christ Superstar,” in association with Generic Theater Company this weekend, said working with a musical that offers only a soundtrack and a vague story line was a welcome challenge.
“The play gives us the music but no script, so I got to make a lot of choices as to what happens in the story,” he said, adding that the process involved researching historical beliefs.
The musical, composed by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber in the ’70s, is set during the last six days of Christ’s life and told from the perspective of the apostle Judas.
“The show focuses more on Jesus’ message, his movement, his start of a religious revolution and why Judas felt he needed to turn him in – so Roman authority wouldn’t come down and crush the people,” Katz-Lapides said.
“The show wasn’t meant to be religious at all,” he later added.
The musical will mark his first experience directing. He said he chose this show specifically for the way that its music fluidly tells a story.
Though a first-time director, Katz-Lapides is no stranger to the University theater community and has participated in about eight shows with different companies over the course of his time at GW.
“The show demands an extremely talented cast,” he said, adding, “When I proposed the show I was afraid I wouldn’t get the crazy talent I needed, but luckily I did, thanks to Generic.”
Having seen several community theater productions of “Jesus Christ Superstar,” in addition to a touring production featuring the actor who played Judas in the 1973 film adaptation, Katz-Lapides cites a feeling of relief with his version of the show – one that completely modernizes the story. For example, audience members will see actors in the beginning using cell phones.
“They [other productions] stay really safe with the Jesus story,” he said. “I was very happy to see my show would be nothing like that,” he added, while giving a nod to his cast.
“They’re a very experienced cast who are very serious about theater.”
Katz-Lapides himself is involved in the theater department as a theater minor and says he plans to move to either Los Angeles or New York after college to work in the entertainment industry as an actor or writer.
He said, “The audience can expect to see the most famous story in the world shown in a unique way.”
Generic Theater Company will present “Jesus Christ Superstar” in the Lisner downstage Thursday, April 9 at 8 p.m. and Friday, April 10 and Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.