A Creative Human Theatre Person.
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Jacob writes a lot about theatre and stuff, so here it is.

 

FINAL CURTAIN: My Thoughts On Closing Weekend of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' at Casa Mañana

Always hoped that I'd be an apostle; knew that I would make it if I tried...

I am in utter disbelief for several reasons; one is the fact that Casa Mañana's production of Jesus Christ Superstar ends its nine-performance run tomorrow (Sunday, 9/18) and the other is the fact that I had the opportunity to be involved in it.

I grew up going to Casa on field trips with my school; this was long before I even considered myself being involved in the theatre. We'd see shows like Frosty The Snowman and other whimsical fairy tale stories, and apparently (which I recently learned thanks to a cousin) a Casa production of Winnie The Pooh was my first show I saw there as a toddler.

Funny story, actually... I was with my mother and cousin, and I ran through the parking lot with my baby legs and was bribed into the theatre with food from our lunch at KFC we had before... which we snuck into the theatre.  Yes, I was that child.  In hindsight, I must admit I was not the best at audience etiquette, but I surely learned as I got older and became more involved.  Anyway, back to the present...

Sure, I may have thought, "I'd love to come back to Casa" but I never thought it would be like this.  As my interest in theatre blossomed, I had better appreciated theatres like this and found myself going to see a few shows here and there on my own or with a friend until I had the opportunity to actually study theatre or participate in shows.

The Dome, not even ten minutes from where I live, is one of Fort Worth's infamous and unique landmarks and it has been a tremendous honor and privilege to witness, and now even be a part of, its production history with Superstar.

Going into this, I felt a sense of nervousness and trepidation because of how quickly this process would be; we started rehearsal on a Monday and would preview with an audience the following Friday.  On top of that, I would be working with an incredible team headed by Broadway director/choreographer Josh Rhodes.  We reviewed the entire score in a day and the next day we started the first staging/choreography rehearsal; my nerves started to settle down a little bit and being able to work in that environment became such a breeze thanks to Josh who allowed us the freedom to explore and have fun, and thanks to a phenomenal cast that I've had the pleasure of working with.

Since we had such a short amount of time, everyone knew we had to really step up to the plate and this has honestly been one of the most fun, nerve-wracking, and rewarding experiences I've had working on a show.  There was no time for slack or taking things at a steady pace.  We always had to be "on" and alert, and willing to mess up and try new things.  I'm not a dancer by any means, but I can move and have always had trouble piecing together dance combinations, which I'm still learning thanks to classes.  But learning our Superstar choreography that quick really helped me try to train my brain to work and process all the information being given and how to implement it.

Next thing I knew, we had a fully-staged run through of the show within four to five days.  It was exhilarating knowing it happened that fast and then it allotted more time for character development and choreo-cleaning so we were ready for spacing and tech rehearsals in the theatre.

The design team put together a top-notch production that looks and sounds incredible, not to mention our incredible orchestra led by our masterful music director James Cunningham.  Jackie Burns (Mary), Daniel Rowan (Jesus), and Michael Hunsaker (Judas) give me chills every time they open their mouth and sing Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice's tuneful and rocking score.  They work so well off of each other and their relationship and chemistry offstage translates to their performances onstage which is undoubtedly important for the roles they play. The audiences have been able to see their real connection with each other, and what they do cannot be "phoned in".  It makes their story that much stronger.  They've been a joy to work with and I hope we cross paths again someday.

Every single member of our cast and crew have been so warm, welcoming, and supportive of each other. I always find joy in the show families whose goal is to "put on a show" and we certainly have here at Casa and have the determination to prove it. Thanks to the entire Casa and Superstar families, I've made some new friends and have shared the stage with some old friends, and have gotten close with our amazing backstage and wardrobe team, and staff over at The Dome... each one of them brings their talents, personality, and skills to the table which these incredible audiences have been able to witness every night from the moment they walk through the door.

The last audience will also witness something special at tomorrow's matinee, too. There is a uniqueness to doing a final performance of a show which follows the final days of Jesus Christ. There will be an ever-present feeling of authenticity as we really say goodbye to this show, these people, and this experience.  It reminds me of why I love the theatre to begin with; it's ever-changing, it's different, and it doesn't last forever. As painful as it may be to say we are closing and moving on to new chapters and journeys (and cities!), there's also something warm about it... that for a brief moment in time, we told a story that resonated with people and left a mark in the landscape of Casa's history and theatre itself.  There will never be another production like this... with these people... with this environment, and this feeling of warmth and success.

For nearly every performance, I've watched the Crucifixion scene from backstage, which is illustrated in a beautiful, innovative, and haunting way thanks to some special "stage magic". Not only does it remind me of what I feel strongly about in my faith and relationship with the Lord and what He did, but it also reminds me that there is never really an "end"... it's only the beginning of something greater than ourselves.  I will walk off the stage on Sunday feeling accomplished.  Moved.  Saddened. Fulfilled.  Overjoyed.  Hopeful.  Ready.  Anew.

Be strong and do not give up, for your hard work will be rewarded.  - 2 Chronicles 15:7

Jacob Rivera-Sanchez