SOUTH SHORE – The inaugural production of the South Shore Summer Theatre (SSST) will take place in the coming days.
The cast and crew will be performing a classic musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, at the Astor Theatre in Liverpool Aug. 18-20 beginning at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at southshoresummertheatre.com or by calling 902-624-0167.
However, before the main production, they will be hosting a preview concert gala at the Lunenburg Opera House Aug. 11 at 7 p.m.
This is the first year for the SSST which started recruiting actors in May. The brother-and-sister team of Shane and Jerri Southcott are behind the formation of the new non-profit group.
Both have a long history of performing and working in theatre. Their parents began a program for young people in North Bay, Ont. more than 30 years ago. The siblings have been involved as both students and teachers.
They are continuing on their parents' legacy by offering professional theatre on the South Shore. Jerri said there is nothing like being a part of a theatre group.
"Being a part of a theatre, we have always found that kids develop life-long relationships and camaraderie that you would normally get in competitive sports or anything else," said Jerri. "Everybody wins in this kind of an environment. There are no winners or losers."
She said the cast really help one another and have quickly become like family.
The upcoming production features the talent of 20 actors ranging in age from 10 to 42 and they come from all along the South Shore.
Shane, who spends much of his time during the year in Mexico, where he and his wife started another theatre company several years ago. He returned to Canada last month to direct the musical.
He was amazed at how quickly the cast came together.
"The cast we have assembled is phenomenal. They have really jelled," he said, adding they would have liked to have had more cast members taking part, but added that this will still work well.
"They're all playing multiple parts because it's a smaller cast than we probably should have for a production this size. But that's cool. They will never not be on stage," he said.
This is the ninth time that he has been a part of this musical, seventh as a director.
Tristan Kenny, from Bridgewater is playing the role of Jesus Christ.
"I'm very excited to do this because I haven't been a part of a musical for quite some time. It's been hard to find opportunities," he said, adding that the musical will attract a lot of different types of people. "There's a lot of emotion, a lot of fun in this play. It's great to be a part of it."
Jonathan Carroll plays the high priest Caiaphas is the high priest who, according to the gospels, organized a plot to kill Jesus.
He was a theatre performer in high school several years ago but hasn't done anything along that line in over a decade.
"I saw a poster for auditions in Lunenburg. I said I had to be a part of this play. It's my favourite musical and I have been a fan of it since I was a child. I just had to take this opportunity," he said.
His wife, Cat Bluemke, plays the high priest Annas and also King Herod.
"This is my first musical. I'm a big fan of the musical itself, the movie and soundtrack," she said. "I'm very excited and it's been great to work together with other people."
Carroll and Bluemke live in Bayport and both are visual artists and agreed that they are enjoying getting out since pandemic protocols have eased.
"It's exciting to work with other people after two years of only looking at everyone on a screen," noted Bluemke.
All three cast members agreed that the South Shore Summer Theatre has been a productive experience.
"The South Shore is such a vibrant, artistic community already, so I think it just makes sense. There were a lot of people that wanted to be a part of the program, so I think it's just going to grow," said Kenny.
Carroll commented, "it's fun to be doing stuff with an organization that is just starting because it feels like we're making up its spirit as we go along."
He added that it's been great to work with the Southcott's and the rest of the staff "to see the experience that they bring unfold in the play. I feel that they empower us to make decisions as well about our characters."
They all agreed that everyone supports each other in their roles and that they truly feel like they are a part of one big family.
ABOUT THE MUSICAL
Borrowing from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the musical tells the story of the last seven days of life of Jesus Christ through the eyes of Judas Iscariot. It explores the personal relationships and struggles between Jesus, Judas, Mary Magdalene, his disciples and followers and the Roman Empire.
The musical, featuring iconic 1970s rock numbers, opened on Broadway in 1971. The musical score was written by well-known composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.