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Avondale Alumni Returning to Stage for Classic Rock Opera This Weekend

Catch 'Jesus Christ Superstar' starting Thursday night.

Generations of Avondale thespians have come together this summer for a production that promises to showcase their legacy.

The Avondale Theatre Company, under the leadership of Edmond Guay, presents the Andrew Lloyd Webber-Tim Rice rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar this Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. 

Dozens of alumni will join current students on stage for the three shows. 

“Three years ago, the idea of ATC Past Present and Future came to light when alumni proposed bringing old school and new school together for something bold,” stated Guay, who is celebrating his 25th year with the high school. 

The show rocks out the last seven days in the life of Jesus, told from the perspective of the apostle who betrays him. In the Avondale production, Jesus is a rock god – a simple man whose music is the message and who shuns the commercialization that has become the modern music machine.  

Alumnus Sameer Barua, class of 2001, plays Jesus in the show.

“Seeing Jesus Christ Superstar in 1995 as a child is what got me started on the path to becoming a musician," Barua said. "Longtime fans of JCS will find our sound to be familiar and comfortable, while still hearing new surprises and boundaries that nobody — amateur or professional — has ever pushed before.”

The crew

  • Assisting Guay with directing duties is Joe Danz (class of 2013). 
  • Stage Managing the show is Michael Sheldon, class of 1996, who, after leaving Avondale, earned his Bachelors and Masters in Theatre from Northern Michigan and Alabama, toured nationally with Miss Saigon and Cats, and now runs the technical theatre program at Alma College. 
  • Co-stage managing with Sheldon is Rebecca Smith-DeVille (class of 2000) who earned her theatre degree from Western Michigan University and has spent the past eight years touring with various professional companies, and stage managing numerous variety shows for cruise lines out of Florida and California.
  • The production’s Assistant Stage Manager is Nick Matejzel (2013).
  • Coordinating the scenic elements for JCS are Tony Burean (1991) and Rachel Bruhn (2013). 
  • The show’s lighting designers and directors are professional lighting designer (she just closed a production of Les Miz in California) Sara Broadhead (1995—and the student director of the original ATC production) and Maria Macauley (2013). 
  • Josh Simpson (1996) coordinates costumes. 
  • Sound, projections and effects are coordinated by William Harris (2004), Michael Catalano (1989), and Jordan Ridenour (2013). 
  • Choreographing the dance numbers is Travis Staton-Marrero (2009). 
  • Heading up the front of house is Tyler Siems (2012). 
  • Nathan Smith (2000) serves as the production’s conductor.

The cast

The cast is equally diverse of history, spanning over two decades of onstage experience with the ATC.  Joining Sameer Barua (Jesus) is Julie Spittle (2005) as Judas, Jennifer Blanchard-Foster (1994) as Mary Magdalene, David Foster (1993) as Caiaphas, Suzi Wdowik (2014) as Annas, ATC teacher and rockstar in his own right Rick Shelley as Pilate, Creg Lyles (2005) as Simon Zealotes, Travis Ketterer (2011) as Peter, Andrew Smith (1991) as Herod, and Jacob Robertson (2011), Meghan Locker (2002), and the director as the high priests.  The multi-character ensemble who portray the Apostle band, Jesus’ followers, accusers, and the mob includes Josh Simpson (1996), Lily Czartorski (2015), Joe Danz (2013), Bethany Guay (2009), Jacob Guay (2008), Anushree Jagtap (2014), Hayley McInerney (2011), Jasmine Buckley (2014), Cody Parent (2011), Julia Byers (2012), Sal Chimenti (2015), Rob Klinger (2014), Brandon Major (1996), Tyler Mercer (2015), Larry Pete (1994), Elaina Tang (2012), Stephen Wright (2009), Betina DuBois (2002), Trisha Grady (1997), Camille Hogan (2015), Emily Krupp (2015), Kendra Lawrence (2014), Monica Rossman (2013), Heather Tang (mom), Michele Tisler (1989), Alaina Vettraino (2011), and Misty Welter (1994).

The cast also features over 30 youngsters, ranging from age 5-13. 

The recording process has also allowed numerous other ATC alumni to participate even though they cannot be onstage for the show.  Adam Guay (2003), Allison Prost (2012), Lance Jones (2002), Melanie Walters (2014) Adam Monterosso (2001), Halle J Little (2012), and Melissa L’Heureux will be heard in the ensemble, with musicians Jakob Locker (2004), Eric Zehnder (2004), Josh Wright (2002), and Ryan Turek (2012) joining Sameer, Meghan Locker, and Nathan Smith, providing the show’s strong hard rock sounds.

The shows

The ATC’s Jesus Christ Superstar hits the stage at the Avondale Performing Arts Centre, located in Avondale High School at 2800 Waukegan in Auburn Hills, off Squirrel Rd between South Blvd and Auburn Rd. for three performances, Thursday, Friday and Saturday beginning at 7:35 p.m. Admission is $10 and all seating is general admission. 

Tickets are available by calling the ATC any time at 248-537-6210. 

More info is available on the web at avondaledrama.com or on Facebook at Jesus Christ Superstar – Avondale Community Theatre 2012.

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