If you go
What: "Jesus Christ Superstar"
When: 8 p.m. today, Friday,
Saturday and April 5-7
Where: WVSU Capitol Center
Tickets: $10 for adults,
$6 for students and seniors
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ryan Hardiman headed into the season of Lent with what he very appropriately calls his "Jesus diet."
Hardiman has eaten lean meat, fish and lots of vegetables in preparation for the title role in the Tim Rice/Andrew Lloyd Webber rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar," which opens tonight at WVSU Capitol Center Theater as a production of the Contemporary Youth Arts Company.
Hardiman, who has performed the role of Jesus twice before, said the diet has been more difficult than learning his part.
"I am very familiar with the score and listen to it a lot because it's one of my favorites," said Hardiman, a veteran of local stage and a former Symphony Idol.
While Hardiman has had no particular weight loss goal — nor has he weighed himself — he said he wanted to trim down a touch for the role, a motivation that comes from a certain costuming requirement.
"There's a strong motivator when you know you have to be shirtless on stage as part of the show," he noted. He hasn't lost as much as he did when he played a transsexual in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch," in which he was down to a gaunt 135 pounds.
"I'm not going so far with this one," he said.
Director Dan Kehde said the timing of the show — it plays this weekend and next, leading up to Easter — was deliberate on his part, though he knew only in January that he had secured the rights to produce it.
The show focuses on the conflict between Jesus and Judas in the week leading up to Christ's crucifixion.
Although the show was first staged on Broadway in 1971 and has been widely produced by professional and community theaters in the years since, it is back on Broadway, which limited the number of other sanctioned productions.
Kehde first started seeking the rights last May because he knew he had a group of kids uniquely qualified to fill many of the roles. While the Contemporary Youth Arts Company uses older adults in roles, its focus is on teens and young adults.
"This is a group of kids that have the capacity to make it a spiritual piece," Kehde said.
Kehde said he expected to get approval for the show and have it cast by the end of last year.
"They put me off," he said. May became June, and then August and by September, the company with the rights to the show still offered no promise.
"I finally said, 'If you were me, would you just schedule a new show?' " Kehde recalled. He was told to be patient. Finally, in January, he sent in a final application and was approved.
Fortunately, Kehde cast veterans in the main roles and has been able to bring the production up to speed very quickly. Two weeks ago, his original Herod had to drop out because of scheduling conflicts, but community theater veteran Ted Brightwell stepped in to reprise a role he has done with Kehde in the past.