...with Newport New's Faith Jones, playing Mary Magdalene.
Words by Penny Neef.
Images courtesy of Seven Venues by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade.
The last Broadway in Norfolk show of this season is Jesus Christ Superstar. It is playing right now at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk through Sunday, June 4.
Jesus Christ Superstar is one of the first, arguably the most famous, rock operas. It was written and produced as a concept album in 1970 by the then little-known duo of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. It is the ancient story of the final weeks of Christ’s life, told through the eyes of his close friend and apostle, Judas. It debuted on Broadway in 1971.
This very powerful production of Jesus Christ Superstar marks the 50th anniversary of the musical the authors “weren’t sure could really be a stage show.” It was reimagined and directed by Timothy Sheader with new “cutting edge” choreography by Drew McOnie. It debuted at London’s Regent’s Open Air Theatre and won the Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival. The music and lyrics remain the same – lush, fast-paced, complex, and explosive. The new choreography is also complex and often dark, threatening and animalistic.
It all fits together for such a sad story. There’s no spoiler alert needed. (Editor's note: It amuses me that this still acts as one.) Everyone knows that Jesus dies in the end. In Jesus Christ Superstar, that is the end. There is no resurrection, which makes the story even sadder.
Faith Jones, who portrays the much-maligned Mary Magdalene, believes Jesus Christ Superstar is a story about “the falling apart of a friendship.” In the end, “these are just people who are at odds, trying to do what they think is best.” Jones agrees it is a story about “pain and suffering, but it is also a story about love and caring.”
Faith Jones, was born in Newport News, grew up in Durham, North Carolina and graduated from UNC – Chapel Hill in 2020. She moved back in with her parents after graduating. It was during the pandemic, and she was unsure of her next move. She had just earned a degree in vocal performance at UNC. She is a singer and songwriter, and was already at work on several concept albums. While auditioning for something else, a casting director for this touring group of Jesus Christ Superstar saw Jones and asked her to come and audition for the part of Mary Magdalene. Just like that, Jones was in New York for three weeks of rehearsals, and on the road a month later. Jones admits, “It was trial by fire.” She was in a demanding starring role, traveling and performing 8 shows a week. She says, “there is no way to prepare for this.” Luckily, many of her fellow performers were new to this kind of nomadic life as well. They have bonded, traveling throughout Canada and the United States for the past year.
Faith Jones is coming to the end of her tour with Jesus Christ Superstar. She is thrilled to be back in Hampton Roads. She finally got to see her Granny for the first time in person since before the pandemic. She will probably have relatives in the audience for every one of her performances at Chrysler Hall. She is not sure what is coming next for her. She knows she wants to live in New York. There may be more Broadway in her future. She would like to get back to work on her EP’s.
If you would like to see the extremely talented Faith Jones before she becomes a star on Broadway, go see her this week in Jesus Christ Superstar at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk. You can purchase tickets here –
Ticket packages for the upcoming season of Broadway in Norfolk can be purchased here - https://www.sevenvenues.com/events/broadway-in-norfolk