‘Superstar’ starts transforming church space

Cast members give Director Bob Navis Jr. (standing in background) a little chaos. Photos by Hans Holznagel

Cast members show Director Bob Navis Jr. (standing, background) a little chaos. Photos by Hans Holznagel

Director Bob Navis Jr. called out from the pews of West Side United Church of Christ to the actors poised in every part of the sanctuary that was doubling as a theater wing. “This time I want you to find reasons inside yourself to make the stakes higher,” he told them as they prepared to improvise a high-energy crowd scene again. “This is not a quiet, private journey. That’s not what this scene is about and that’s not what the music is saying. I want to see chaos.” Musical Director Ian LeRoy hit the rehearsal piano and on they came, kids, teens and adults, groups at a time, encountering each other in aisles, on steps and atop platforms. Noise and action reigned. On Wednesday evening, Oct. 1, just two weeks into rehearsals, this grand sanctuary was well on its way to becoming the stage for Jesus Christ Superstar.

Musical Director Ian LeRoy (left) and Director Bob Navis Jr. (lower center) work with actors already using the first of temporary platforms.

Musical Director Ian LeRoy (left) and Director Bob Navis Jr. (lower center) work with actors — some already up on the first of temporary platforms.

Having spent initial rehearsals focusing on music, movement and ensemble-building exercises, and with principal roles now cast (see updated list below), actors are beginning to use just about every inch of this tall, arching sanctuary built by German Protestants in 1866. Temporary platforms and step units will help the cast fill that vertical space, adding visibility and dramatic effect. The show runs for nine performances, Nov. 21 through Dec. 7 at the church, 3800 Bridge Ave. (at West 38th St.), Cleveland. Tickets — $20 reserved Star Seats, $10 adult general admission and $8 general admission for 12 and under — are available online anytime or by calling 216-961-6391 weekdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Dec. 4 performance will be interpreted by the American Sign Language troupe, The HeArd. –– Hans Holznagel


[UPDATE, Oct. 10: Five more men, veterans of NWT shows, are needed to complete the cast. Interested? Call Director Bob Navis Jr. at 216-281-6879, or Assistant Director Kelcie Dugger at 216-961-9750.]

Near West Theatre’s community theater production of


Lyrics by Tim Rice       Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Cast: Felix Albino, Edie Barcelona, Angie Bendahan, Raymond Boyd, Jeffrey E. Braun (King Herod), Sara Danielle Chapman (Simon Zealotes), Bridget Chebo (Mary Magdalene), Roger Connors, Kevin Conroy (Caiaphas), Carlos Cruz (Jesus of Nazareth), Sharron DeCosta (Maid by the Fire), Lauren Dockery (Annas), Angela Galarza (Old Man), Venchise Glenn, Lindsay Hajostek, Hannah Horton, Hillary Horton, Corinne Howery, Sophie Hull, Angellise Irizarry, Rachel Johanek, Louis Johnson II, Kevin Joseph Kelly (Pontius Pilate), Meg Kilbane, Bryen Kilbane, Sabrina Kim, Mike Knobloch, Jonas Kukelhan, Christine Larson, Elliot Lockshine, Roger Lowe (Roman Soldier), Amaya Moore, George Morgan (Judas Iscariot), Finn O’Malia, Jocelyn Perkins, Aaron Phillips (Peter), Mary Prucha, Eric Ritter, Daniel Ross, Lillian Ross, Jennifer Ryan (Priest), Brandon Schumacker, Cole Tarantowski, Nora van Lier, Piet van Lier, Kyanie Vazquez, Connie Wynn, Lawrence Young (Priest), Bob Zombar (Priest).


Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing operating support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.


About Near West Theatre

Our Mission Statement: "Near West Theatre builds loving relationships and engages diverse people in strengthening their sense of identity, passion, and purpose, individually and in community, through transformational theatre arts experiences." View all posts by Near West Theatre

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