Gender-neutral ‘controversial’ production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ features non-binary Jesus


The University of Edinburgh’s Savoy Opera Group (EUSOG) would present the first gender-neutral production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’.

The rock opera “Jesus Christ Superstar”, by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sir Tim Rice, chronicles the last weeks of Jesus from the perspective of Judas Iscariot.

EUSOG’s version, which aired at Edinburgh’s Church Hill Theater this week, is fully licensed as gender-neutral, allowing the cast to portray any character despite traditional male and female roles, The Edinburgh Tab reported. The production team made the arrangement with Lloyd Webber Licensing, with the understanding that the show’s lyrics and pronouns remain the same. In the band’s version, Jesus is played by a non-binary actor, someone who does not identify as male or female, and Judas is played by a woman. The 12 Apostles are performed by female or non-binary performers.

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A child reading the holy bible with guidance by parents.
(Stock)

“The gender-neutral casting is one of the most important features of the production – we have a female Judas and a non-binary Jesus as the protagonists,” producer Lew Forman told The Tab. “We bring non-binary and feminine creations out of the shadows and into the spotlight, providing equal opportunities in all aspects of production.”

“EUSOG proudly presents ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, coming to the Church Hill Theater January 24-28 only!” the band wrote in a Facebook post on January 10. “Don’t miss this thrilling production – a modern retelling of the ancient tale of love, betrayal and tragedy.”

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Forman said they “really pushed” for the production because “it’s not that I don’t think we could have found men to play these fantastic roles, I’m convinced we could have done it. It was more of an equal opportunity issue.” He admitted the play had “been a bit controversial” as posters advertising the performance had been vandalized.

Mother Mary and Saint Joseph caressing baby Jesus sleeping in the manger under bright divine light after birth in a stable in Bethlehem.

Mother Mary and Saint Joseph caressing baby Jesus sleeping in the manger under bright divine light after birth in a stable in Bethlehem.
(Stock)

“By throwing the whole series regardless of gender, it really helps us focus on the core aspects of the characters and, with the help of the fabulous production team, bring them to life,” said Roza Stevenson, who plays Jesus in production. “That decision was the reason I applied for an audition! Being a non-binary actor is a strange line to walk. Being able to audition for a show where my gender presentation made no difference broke down all the barriers.”

“Jesus Christ Superstar” debuted on Broadway in 1971. It has been adapted several times over the years, including a live-action television production in 2018 starring John Legend as Jesus Christ and Sara Bareilles as the role of Mary Magdalene.

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The Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group presents a version of Jesus Christ Superstar featuring a non-binary Jesus.

The Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group presents a version of Jesus Christ Superstar featuring a non-binary Jesus.
(Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group)

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Schools have been pushing the envelope on gender and gender theory in recent years, both on stage and in the classroom.


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