The only topic of conversation in the Migliazza household these days is Jesus Christ Superstar.
The Thunder Bay family has been living and breathing the famous Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera the last few months as they’ve been pulling together a local production to run this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Redwood Park Church.
Sam Migliazza has taken the directorial reins for the production as well as portraying Judas in the musical. His mother Rose is the music director and his sister Angelica has taken on choreography.
“I can tell you it’s all that’s talked about in our house from morning to late, late evening,” said Angelica.
“It’s nice because it’s difficult to rely on someone so much and you know you have that support from family,” said Sam. “And for something like this, having that support is vital, so without it, I wouldn’t be able to do it.”
Along with the Migliazzas, the production, which loosely chronicles Jesus’ last week before the crucifixion, features 46 actors and actresses, an 11-piece band and another half a dozen crew members.
“It’s consisting of a lot of powerhouse vocalists in the city and it’s all local talent,” said Sam, noting the age demographics of the cast ranges from 14 to 32.
“I love this musical because the music is so identifiable separately than the actual show itself. Usually with musicals, they come together as a package, but people identify with the music; people identify with the show. It’s different crowds so I feel like it’s that much more powerful,” Sam said.
And while the show is a classic, that didn’t stop the Migliazzas from putting their own spin on it.
“When I first started doing it and blocking the scenes, I tried to aim it and structure it around the movie but then I took it into my own idea and it started growing. It’s based around the ’70s like the movie but it takes a more political aim,” said Sam, adding there are a few twists.
The choreography also takes a bit of a turn from the original.
“Typically Jesus Christ Superstar doesn’t have this type of choreography so we had lots of different aspects we threw into the musical that changes it up and the choreography really adds to it,” said Angelica.
And with a cast of 46, getting everyone up to speed with the choreography was a bit of a daunting task, especially with many actors without dance experience.
“I really focused on just doing lots of groovy moves because it’s the ’70s,” said Angelica. “It is challenging choreography so I have to say that was a challenging aspect for them to catch onto and they’ve come so far with it and the audience is really going to love it.”
The band consists of the usual electric guitar, bass guitar and drums, but also comes with keyboardists, a horn section and some extra strings. The music in the play is rock and roll and the band is filled with seasoned musicians, said Rose.
“They’re experienced and have been performing in their own bands. They’ve come together and formed this wonderful group. I just can’t say enough about them,” she said.
“They’re working really hard and they’re really excited to be playing this style of music.”
The cast and crew have been practicing at least twice a week for months and while Sam said he knows everybody’s ready for opening night, he’s still a little nervous.
“Every play, every musical has the nerves. It’s good to have those. You don’t want to go in there feeling perfect because otherwise you won’t strive to make it even better,” he said.
Jesus Christ Superstar plays this Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Redwood Park Church at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. Proceeds go to the church food bank.
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