I’ll start off by admitting I hadn’t seen Jesus Christ Superstar until last night. I have seen a LOT of Broadway shows, this just wasn’t one of them. So this revival of the musical started off with me trying to guess what had changed between the original and today—and the most obvious were the costumes and the set. This revival was a lot more modern than what I imagine the original designs looked like in 1970! And they were stunning.
I adored everything about the set. From the cross-shaped platform that sloped downstage, to the multi-tiered backdrop where the orchestra played on the second floor.
The large musical numbers were fascinating to witness with powerful voices and tribal dancing, culminating in a solemn portrait of Jesus hanging on the cross.
For those that haven’t seen the show, Jesus Christ Superstar follows the last few days of Jesus before his death, mostly from the point of view of Judas. We see Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene, the last supper with his disciples, his betrayal by Judas, and his interactions with Pontius Pilate. All in a 90-minute whirl of activity with no intermission!
Before seeing the show I had the chance to talk with one of the ensemble cast members, Brittany Rose Hammond. Brittany is a southern California native and I saw her a few years ago playing the role of Kathy Seldon in Singin’ in the Rain at San Diego Musical Theatre.
I started off asking Brittany if she was glad to be back in San Diego.
Brittany: I love working in Southern California whenever I get the opportunity, having grown up there. I got to know San Diego just enough during the five weeks I worked at San Diego Musical Theatre and just fell in love with the city!
Nikki: What is your favorite part about being in Jesus Christ Superstar?
Brittany: The first part is the material. The music is iconic, it’s incredible. It’s nostalgic. But the best part is the people. They assemble the most incredible team and incredible cast and everyone gets along beautifully and we all breathe as one. We have a circle time before each show where we set an intention for the show and each person gives a word or a phrase that might inspire them. Then we all breathe together before the show with that in mind.
Nikki: What is the favorite role you’ve ever played?
Brittany: I would have to say that my favorite role was the last show I did, playing Sally Smith in Me And My Girl. But I also loved my experience in Hair, the revival tour. As an onstage swing, I went in for pretty much every track in the show at some point. It was a special experience to be able to tell that show from so many perspectives. And being an onstage swing in this show, I have a feeling my journey may go there as well. I’m looking forward to challenging myself trying out the different tracks.
Nikki: What would your dream role be?
Brittany: Eve in Children of Eden. That’s another biblical musical, which seems to be a common theme with me!
Nikki: What is the favorite city you’ve traveled to on a tour?
Brittany: Playing the Pantages was a huge bucket list for me, having grown up and seeing shows there. So playing there on our last stop was a dream!
Nikki: Speaking of tour, do you prefer tour or being in a fixed location for a run? What is the best and worst thing about being on tour?
Brittany: I love tour when I have energy at the moment, but I think my personal preference would be a longer sit down, especially with a show as hard on the body as this show is. The worst thing is packing my suitcase because I’m very inconsistent and worrying if the suitcase weighs too much! The best thing is the people. They really are your family. You are forced to get along but in a beautiful way. You’re showing your true self and being vulnerable, every single day.
Nikki: What have you learned about yourself in the audition process?
Brittany: This sounds cheesy, but I learned to follow my dreams regardless. Do it because you love it, not because you’re trying to achieve some role. I decided to take a free Jesus Christ Superstar Equity Chorus Call and called it (in my head) a master class. I didn’t have intentions of getting far, and I knew it would hurt if I didn’t get the role, but I went in to learn with full force, and I ended up getting the role!
Nikki: When did you start doing theater?
Brittany: I started pretty young because both of my parents are in the industry. My mom was a music teacher and conductor and my dad is a actor, writer, and producer. I was thrust onstage in my youth and then I took a six-year break in my late teens/early 20s to make sure this was a path I wanted. At Orange Coast College I changed my major from dance to musical theater and here I am!
Nikki: Do you have any advice for mothers who are interested in getting their children in the industry?
Brittany: It is extremely hard, but I think as long as they are following the path because it is their passion—not because they happen to be good at it or they don’t know anything else. Make sure your children are truly following something they love and brings them the most joy.