Q: Why Jesus Christ Superstar for 2010?
Mr Savage: To start with, we were looking for a work with a number of male roles. We were looking for something robust, something that would allow us to get as many people as involved as possible. In Jesus Christ Superstar we can have a group of 12 apostles and a wider group supporting them. We had about 100 to the auditions and have settled on a cast of 50, plus crew.
This show has a dangerous feel to it, it’s not a pantomime. And there is the rock element, which is a great challenge for our musicians.
Q: What do you like best about Jesus Christ Superstar as a production?
Mr Savage: I have to confess that I have never seen it as a stage production! But I think that’s a strength – I don’t have any preconceptions. I have seen the movie, I first saw it when I was 16, but a film is not something we could copy. So we are starting with a clean slate.
In any show there has to be something that really interests me because of my other role as Head of the History Department. The Christ story and the historical perspectives. Humanity and divinity and Judas in particular – I believe there is something of Judas in all of us. I’m always interested in the ‘broken ones’ of history.
Q: So how would you describe your relationship with JCS?
Mr Savage: I first heard the music as a teenager growing up in Rotorua (in the North Island of New Zealand). I was into bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath and on the original album, the one before the show came along, the part of Jesus was sung by Ian Gillan from Deep Purple. He also worked with Black Sabbath. Judas was sung by Murray Head. I was fascinated by that album and the white cover and I played it a lot in Rotorua. That was my bogan period I suppose.
Q: How do you keep up with the long hours of the production as well as the demands of the History Department?
Mr Savage: It is a challenge. It has been a very supportive team, headed by the producer Kirsty Hazledine and the musical director, Carey McDonald. This is my third production at Wellington College, previously I worked on Niu Sila, a story of race relations, and On Chunuk Bair, the story of New Zealanders at Gallipoli.
Q: What is your dream for this production of JCS?
Mr Savage: I like to think that it’s Andy Warhol painting the Sistine Chapel: it’s a pop art / rock and roll version of JCS. Jesus is our rock star and the disciples are his fans. Was JC the Bono of his time?
I see this as a contemporary production showing what young people are capable of. I don’t want it to be a ‘school production’ as if that was an excuse for something lame. I want the audience to go away respecting what we have done. We don’t have to settle for anything less.
– as told to the JCS publicity team